Archive for November, 2011
The Cogges Link Road (CLR) inquiry returns on Wednesday 30th November for what may be its final day. In the meantime, here’s a quick guide to what it’s all about and (at the bottom) links to blog posts which summarise each day of the inquiry so far.
What’s the inquiry about?
After two very successful Swap Shops recycling Witney’s secondhand goods in the Corn Exchange, Sustainable Witney are currently without a venue for our next one on 18th February. Although SW haven’t been contacted by the Public Halls manager to say that is the case, the Town Council press release gives no indication when the Corn Exchange will reopen.
It’s an excellent town centre venue for the Swap Shop and has been perfect for our public meetings too. The fact that it’s central, has all the bus services stopping just across the Market Square, has cycle parking, and is fully accessible for people with disabilities makes it our first choice.
It’s also very versatile. In addition to the two meeting rooms, the main hall with its stage and retractable, tiered seating is ideal for both entertainment and markets. Not to mention the projector room used by the popular independent cinema Screen at the Square.
It’s not clear at the moment why problems with heating and ventilation have crept up on the Town Council and caught them unawares. Hopefully this is just an aberration.
This took place on Friday 11th November and began with the submission of more documents from Oxfordshire County Council. The inquiry adjourned at 11am to allow people to observe the two-minute silence.
The case for the Mawle Trust continued with evidence from Isan McNeill, traffic and transportation witness for the Mawle Trust. Mr McNeill commented that Shores Green is better value for money. He also said that county council traffic models do not appear to promote any kind of shift in transport modes from the car to cycling or walking.
This took place on Thursday 10th November and opened with preliminary business. The planning inspector asked when he can expect to receive certain documents from Oxfordshire County Council but Matthew Reed, lawyer for the county, replied that he couldn’t say when they would be available.
This took place on Wednesday 9th November and began with housekeeping business. The planning inspector asked for the traffic queue data on Ducklington Lane that he had requested the previous day. David Holgate QC, lawyer for the county council, replied that it was being done that same day. Mr Holgate added that the council was currently handling seven outstanding submissions from non-statutory objectors.
This took place on Tuesday 8th November after a recess of nearly four weeks. It began with new document submissions from both sides. Mark Lowe QC, lawyer for the Mawle Trust, expressed his concerns over documents that have still not been received, as well as over the large number of new documents submitted by Oxfordshire County Council. Stephen Roscoe, planning inspector, echoed his concerns and wondered aloud whether the county council had been aware of the number of documents that would be submitted at the last minute before the recess began.
This took place on Wednesday 12th October and began with Paul Kinchesh presenting his case as a non-statutory objector. His main point was that the county council’s flood model data are flawed, making it impossible to calculate suitable flood mitigation. Better data have been available to the county for over two and a half years but have been ignored.
This took place on Tuesday 11th October. David Holgate QC, lawyer for the county, continued his cross-examination of Christ Whitlow, flooding expert for the Mawle Trust. Key points arising from the cross-examination:
- Witan Park Industrial Estate should be included in any flood model. There is a wall to protect it, but this wall is not a flood defence.
- There is debate between the two sides about what values should be assumed for the water flow when flood modelling. Dr Whitlow does not accept the county council’s values.
This took place on Friday 7th October and began with some housekeeping business: Oxfordshire County Council had submitted a new document (OCC50), dated October 5th. Plans for the traffic lights on Bridge Street were also received. The planning inspector asked non-statutory objectors to submit any additional objections before Tuesday 11th Oct so that he can decide if further sessions need to be scheduled.
This took place on Thursday 6th October. The inquiry was split into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, because the venue wasn’t available in the afternoon. The entire day was taken up with the evidence from Dr Peter Shepherd, ecology expert and witness for the Mawle Trust.
In his initial evidence, Dr Shepherd reviewed the statement of common ground prepared by both sides and highlighted the difference between the proposed Cogges Link Road and the Shores Green alternative. Key points:
This took place on Wednesday 5th October and opened by continuing the case for the non-statutory objectors.
Steven Fletcher, lifelong Witney resident and Witney Fire Officer for 30 years, gave his objections. He said that Bridge Street is suffering too much traffic and that HGVs are causing the old buildings to vibrate. Mr Fletcher believes that the proposed Bridge Street traffic lights will exacerbate the problem by causing more stationery traffic and increasing pollution. He said that Shores Green would be a better option for reducing the amount of through traffic using Bridge Street.
This took place on Tuesday 4th October. The inquiry opened with 10 statutory objectors making the case against the Cogges Link Road (CLR).
Tim Walker, statutory objector, raised again the issues of cost, the loss of Hay Meadow, congestion on Station Lane and increased flood risk. He also asked why Oxfordshire County Council have not sought legal advice over the status of the Section 106 money. David Holgate QC, lawyer for the council, asked whether Mr Walker was aware of the “statement of common ground” prepared by both sides in relation to Section 106 money. Mr Walker asked Mr Holgate to clarify his question but Mr Holgate simply replied “No.”