A notorious subway could be removed as part of wide-ranging plans to improve the appearance of a busy shopping area, writes Stephen Deal.

Councillors said the subway - which runs under London Road, Headington, Oxford - is likely to be one of the major topics of conversation when a public meeting is held early in the new year.

The ideas for Headington, commissioned by Oxford City Council, also include plans to improve the appearance of the shopping area and introduce traffic-calming measures. Members of the city's planning committee also agreed to implement a number of short-term improvements before the planned public meeting.

These include:

*Providing additional benches

*Providing better signs for motorists and pedestrians

*Improving the condition of the subway

*Painting steps on London Road to improve visibility *Providing additional bins

*Relocating existing cycle racks and providing more of them.

In the longer term, other ideas include providing a design brief to improve the bingo hall site, promoting the shopping centre as a quarter for health and learning and improving pedestrian links between the John Radcliffe Hospital and the football ground.

Although the plans also include providing lighting, mirrors and decoration for the subway, councillors suggested local people would like to see it taken away altogether - and pedestrian crossings improved instead. Cllr Jean Curran said: "It was originally meant for people going to football matches but it is in the wrong place, anyway. People will not walk down to the subway."

Cllr Roberta Woods said the study, carried out by a department at Oxford Brookes University, was already proving useful. She also backed calls for the subway's removal.

She said: "The subway is extremely unpopular and not just for the reasons already given. It also for general safety issues."

The public meeting will be held on a date yet to be fixed.

Story date: Thursday 11 November

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