Our submissions to Oxford County Council
In August we sent a summary of your consultation issues to the Council and discussed it with their Traffic Officers.
We have now conducted a survey of your issues and invited Yvonne Constance (Cabinet member for the environment) to join us in a discussion of our concerns before a decision is made on 13th October.
The email is as follows:
Dear Cllr Constance,
I am writing to you on behalf of Oxford Waterside Residents Association on the subject of the proposed bus gates. Although this is one email, we represent the clear majority view of over 600 people living here. Please do not construe one email as one response - it is a very much collective and coherent voice of several hundred invidivuals. I'd like to flag our invitation later in this email to a friendly, socially-distanced meeting in Merrivale Square with a small committee and Cllr James Fry and Cllr John Howson to understand the particular issues affecting residents here whose lives are already adversely affected by current travel policy, even before the current proposals.
We have attached a survey of residents – which show that over 70% of residents would support the bus gates with appropriate mitigations such as 2 journeys/day (including peak time) or 24/7 exemptions. Peak time exemptions seem to be critical for the families and professionals who live here.
Waterside, comprising 199 households on Plater Drive, Merrivale Square and The Rutherway, runs parallel to Kingston Road. Waterside can only be accessed through Walton Well Road. Our development is only 0.7 miles from the current Walton Street barrier.
All residents have off-road parking and do not require parking permits- we are concerned that currently the council may not be factoring in our households and vehicles in its modelling of the impacts of the current proposals, nor would have any way of identifying our vehicles for any exemptions that are granted. This also applies to William Lucy Way / Eagle Works.
We are already a committed “active travel” inner city neighbourhood with most residents, where physically or logistically possible, cycling or walking. Our survey show that over 90% of journeys within the area and to the city centre are conducted on foot or bicycle. In fact this neighbourhood was always a Low Traffic Neighbourhood until the Walton Street barrier diverted the traffic associated to 3,000 households from that commercial street north through entirely residential roads such as St Bernard’s Rd and those to the North.
See map below.
Residents have expressed extreme concern about the bus gate proposals as in order to access their workplaces (e.g. Harwell, Culham, Milton Park, Wallingford, Abingdon) and schools (e.g. The Europa School in Culham, Magdalen College School, Abingdon, St Helen’s, Matthew Arnold School etc) in peak times.
Without 24/7 access through bus gates, they would be making daily detours north of 10-15 additional miles, let alone facing hours of delays weekly sitting on the A34 in traffic that is frequently stationary at peak times. Access to supermarkets and hardware stores on the Botley Road ( our local shopping centre for weekly shop and numerous services) as well as the railway station and doctors / dentists , would also entail roundtrips of 15 miles instead of just over 2 currently. Please see image below.
Over 45% of respondents consider they will have 90 minutes more commuting time per week…..for 16% this will result in over 3 hours extra commuting time per week.
For residents living busy working lives, juggling jobs and children’s lives, and those who are elderly and voiceless in some of these debates, the disruption would make life impossible. We are 1 mile distant from a bus stop that would take us to the Botley Road. The area is poorly served by bus services – even the cancelled PickMeUp service did not cover Waterside. 84% of residents reported that no bus route covered their most commonly used route through the proposed bus gates.
The combination of bus gates without 24/7 access and some of the LTN schemes proposing dividing Walton Street into two for example, would completely kettle us in. Our analysis of household numbers and traffic journeys shows that if the JLTN goes ahead as currently planned, some 1800 households worth of traffic (own journeys, deliveries, trades people, carers) will be forced to travel through Walton Manor Streets on a daily basis.
We recently held a positive Zoom meeting with your officers Mr Kraftl and Mr Rossington to explain our city centre location and the challenges that will be faced by the households on the estate. Cllr James Fry has suggested further that we reach out to you to invite you to a friendly socially distanced meeting in Merrivale Square so that you can see for yourself the difficulties that these proposals will have on our neighbourhood unless there are exemptions 24/7. We would also be pleased to share the outcomes of the survey we conducted of residents to detail the impacts of the proposal on their daily lives.
To arrange this please could you contact Emma Dadson (contact details deleted)
If you are unable to meet we can put together a more detailed briefing for you or arrange a video call, but feel that that a meeting in person, perhaps with the opportunity to walk the perimeter, would give greater context and insight.
Kay Gordon, Chair, Oxford Waterside Residents Association