Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 15

November 11th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

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.

David Holgate QC, lawyer for the county, stated that the council had prepared a document called Evaluating Costs & Benefits. This contains recalculations of the projections of accidents over a 60 year period for both the CLR & Shores Green, using default values.

Mark Lowe continued cross-examining the county’s traffic and economics witnesses, Matthew Hall and Ian Woods. Much of the questioning of Mr Hall was about the county’s traffic flow data. Mr Lowe suggested that the county’s modelling is weighted to over-assess demand and traffic flows through Bridge Street, making Shores Green seem like a less appropriate option. Mr Hall replied that there had been “an unfortunate error” by the county.

Nick Wilcock, non-statutory objector, asked why the county’s evidence contains large changes in data tables. Mr Woods replied that this was down to human error. Mr Wilcock also pointed out that if the pedestrian crossing at the Jubilee Way/Oxford hill junction is removed, this will increase the risk of accidents.

Mr Holgate re-examined Mr Woods before the case for the Mawle Trust continued with evidence from Ian McNeill, traffic and transportation expert. Mr McNeill stated that the county’s traffic modelling overstates traffic demand. Other issues raised:

  • The county council states that the CLR will improve the level of service for cars, which is in direct conflict with Government transport policy requiring a modal shift from cars to cycling/walking for short journeys. Mr McNeill stated that it important to ensure that traffic flows are managed at an early stage because travel habits, once formed, are difficult to change. Free parking (obviously a political issue) does not dissuade people driving to the town centre. Most towns which identify a traffic problem manage their parking. Mr McNeill believes that if a sustainable transport strategy were implemented this would effectively remove the need for any scheme to be done immediately in order to relieve Bridge Street traffic.
  • The Shores Green option will remove traffic not going into the town and improve opportunities for sustainable travel as well as decreasing traffic flows through key air quality areas. It would also make the best use of the existing A40 infrastructure. Together with a new Downs Road junction onto the A40, it would help to keep unnecessary traffic away from the town centre.

The inquiry resumed with the case for the non-statutory objectors from Nick Wilcock, Gill Solway and Katy Jennison.

Ms Solway read a proof of evidence from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Dr Jennison stated that Oxfordshire County Council underestimate the significance of the farm bridge route and fail to acknowledge its indication of westbound demand for the A40. Both Station Lane and Witan Way are designated as distributor roads, but both are highly used and this misrepresents their true nature. There is a need to separate long distance and local traffic at its earliest stage. The proposed traffic lights at the Staple Hall junction are to dissuade the use of Bridge Street and encourage the use of CLR, but it will only result in stationary traffic and congestion in Bridge Street. Heavy goods vehicles favour junctions rather than roundabouts and hence would favour Shores Green over Bridge Street but Bridge Street over the CLR. She added that the county’s policy of favouring the CLR because they have developer funding to spend is like buying a useless ornament because your gift voucher is about to expire!

The case for the Mawle Trust continued with more evidence from Mr McNeill. He stated that Witney town centre is of a ‘compact nature’- that is, good for walking and cycling. 30-40% of car traffic using Bridge Street is making short trips and this could be changed if people were actively encouraged to use other forms of transport.

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