At a meeting with the Expressway Action Group (EAG) on Tuesday 10th October it was revealed that some headway had been made to find out what has been happening so far in planning a new “Growth Corridor” to link Oxford and Cambridge and, more important from our point of view, one of three published possible routes referred to as the “Southern route”. The map was shown on Page 14 of the October issue of the Dorchester News. This was the second public meeting for some of the Parishes close to Cuddesdon and Denton but the first for Dorchester as we only discovered the extent of the plan in the middle of September from our County councillor. More information is being sought from some of the reluctant organisations involved but they are remaining somewhat tight lipped.
The EAG are treating this possible route very seriously and are mounting a campaign to fight it as robustly as possible now, as by the time a consultation takes place they fear that a decision in principle will already have been made. Time is short and some decisions may be made before the Chancellors Autumn Statement.
How could it affect Dorchester?
The southern route would intercept the A34 near Blewbury, pass South Moreton, Brightwell cum Sotwell, cross the hillside somewhere near Wittenham Clumps, cross the River Thames somewhere between Dorchester and Warborough, heading north using the Thame valley near Stadhampton, Denton, Cuddesdon Little Milton crossing the M40 and on towards Thame. This road is likely to be two or possibly three lanes with the occasional junction and the scale of the only map we have is such that the accuracy of the route is limited to about a mile. Perhaps of greater concern is the fact that the whole route which is 100 miles long is expected to deliver a possible 1m new houses . Given that the part of the route closest to us is about 10 miles long this could mean another 100,000 houses in South Oxfordshire.
Therefore we are urging every resident to start lobbying now before any decisions are made that would be difficult to address later. The key points are listed below but we recommend you read the more detailed explanations and recommended recipients to lobby on the web site.
1. Any proposed Southern Route will cut through the heart of Oxford’s Green belt, in contradiction of national and local planning policies
2. The Southern Route will cost over £400 millions more than the Northern / A34 option (NIC and Highways England’s own figures)
3. A Southern route would separate the Ox-Cam Expressway from the East-West Rail Link, preventing transfer from road to rail, and would deny easy access to Oxford Parkway, Bicester & other stations, generate MORE road traffic and city congestion and pressure on ‘park & ride’ services.
4. A Southern Route will leave the A34 through West Oxford unimproved and miss the opportunity for regeneration in that area
5. A Southern route will cut through a pristine Flood Plain environment and wildlife corridor: it would cause huge environmental damage
6. A Southern Route to M40 Junction 6,7 or 8 will prevent designated Growth Towns of Bicester, Witney, Banbury, Northampton etc. receiving the growth boost and advantages of the new Expressway. Any Southern Route would run on the ‘wrong’ side of Oxford for linking them to the Expressway.
7. A Southern route would deliver much-needed housing growth later than a Northern option, which would link existing growth towns which already have town centres, infrastructure, schools, surgeries, employment zones etc.
8. The Northern option via A34 and Bicester is closely aligned with the new Oxford – Cambridge Rail link: access from Expressway to Rail stations would allow faster ‘last-mile’ access to Oxford / Didcot and other Knowledge SpineTowns, and reduce road traffic pressure and congestion on Oxford City.
9. The Northern route along A34 would see junction improvements and improved flows all along the A34 to M40 at Junction 9, and especially at J9 itself, and would eliminate the daily traffic jams on the M40 there.
The Parish Council