Plans to divert traffic away from a town high street have led some businesses to express concern they "may not survive".

Oxfordshire County Council is hoping to introduce a Relief Road in Watlington with roundabouts and zebra crossings in order to remove vehicles from an area with "traffic-related challenges".

The road would provide direct access to the B4009, known as Shirburn Road and Britwell Road, either side of Watlington.

Oxford Mail: Watlington Relief Road plan.Watlington Relief Road plan. (Image: Oxfordshire County Council.)

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Loraine Daniels, who is joint owner of eight years at the Bella Luce lighting shop in Watlington High Street, said: "90 per cent of our customers are passing trade.

"Absolutely without a doubt 90 per cent of our customers come because of our windows.

"I'm older so I could close my shop and it would be fine but we have got a couple of youngsters who have recently invested.

"I can promise you that there is a lot of concern amongst all the high street traders."

Oxford Mail: Bella Luce lighting shop.Bella Luce lighting shop. (Image: Loraine Daniels.)

A spokesman for the county council has said the aim is to reduce congestion, noise and air pollution in the town centre and to enable future housing developments with more cycling and walking options.

Judy Roberts, Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for infrastructure and development strategy, has been criticised over the plans.

Chris Church of ORAA, the Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance, said: "The reality is that there are no traffic lights in Watlington and it does not have a one-lane-only bridge.

"It is shocking that someone who is so clearly ill-informed or poorly briefed is making important decisions on new infrastructure, spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money.

Oxford Mail: Watlington High Street.Watlington High Street. (Image: Loraine Daniels.)

"We can only conclude that she has confused the village with the larger town of Wallingford, several miles away."

Debbie Davies, also from the ORAA, added: "Traffic and pollution are likely to increase overall if the road is built.

"It will also undermine the county council's transport plan to reduce private car journeys and increase public transport.

"The £10m scheme has no bus infrastructure."

A statement from Shiburn Parish Council said: "The traffic and the extensive residential development will cause harm to the Conservation village of Shirburn."

A planning decision for the development is anticipated in May 2024.

Ms Roberts said: “Oxfordshire County Council is fully committed to the Watlington Relief Road project. There is a live planning application, and we anticipate a decision in the spring.

“The Watlington Relief Road project aims to provide an alternative route and direct access to the B4009 either side of Watlington without the need to travel through the town centre.

"It will connect the western side of Watlington on the B4009, looping northwards and connecting back to the B4009 on the eastern side of the town.

“Its aim is to alleviate congestion, noise and air pollution in the town centre and enable future housing developments, by offering more sustainable modes of transport including cycling and walking.”