The Delegated Decision by Cabinet Member for Highway Management item will be considered and determined by the Leader of the Council, Cllr Liz Leffman, at a public meeting that can also be viewed by video link.
Background to the upcoming decision
The decision on whether Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials will proceed in the Divinity Road, St Mary’s and St Clement’s areas (‘East Oxford LTNs’) was deferred from a previous Cabinet Member Decision on 29 July 2021, when Cllr Tim Bearder, Cabinet Member for Highway Management, asked officers to review the options based on residents’ responses to an initial (non-statutory) public consultation, update the proposals and re-consult on the schemes.
The officers have since carried out further targeted engagement and consultation with community stakeholders as requested and submitted a second report for decision at Thursday’s meeting.
Although the Council isn’t required to carry out these preliminary informal consultations by law (hence ‘non-statutory’), it has taken this discretionary step, as it did for the Cowley LTN trials, in order to feed local residents’ views into the design of the proposed trials.
Should the trials go ahead, the formal statutory consultation will take the form of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO), in which the trial itself is the consultation with a survey running alongside.
Further informal consultation
Following Cllr Bearder’s Cabinet Member Decision in July, the officers engaged with the following stakeholder groups to discuss their concerns and alternative options: local mosques, local taxi companies, disability groups, local schools, the council’s Special Educational Needs Transport team, the Emergency Services and waste collection services.
They also carried out a targeted consultation exercise with the residents and businesses of Howard Street on the position of the Howard Street traffic filter and overall design.
The feedback gathered from this further stakeholder engagement has been used to develop the recommendations of the report.
Key information from the report
There’s no substitute for reading the full report (see below), but if you’re looking for a quick summary, the Equality and Climate Impact Assessment (starting on p21 of the document (p23 of the PDF)), gives a useful outline of the background and public health aims of the proposed schemes and their potential impact on groups with protected characteristics.
Further key information from the report:
“In recognition of the Fair Deal Alliance’s priorities, the Cabinet Member is recommended to approve the implementation of the East Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.”
“In addition, the Cabinet Member is RECOMMENDED to:
Note the outcome of the targeted engagement activities and acknowledge the risks that arise from implementing the East Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in advance of other strategic transport measures.”
- “In line with government guidance, alongside its statutory obligation to consult with emergency services and other statutory consultees, Oxfordshire County Council will be undertaking surveys if measures are implemented.”
- “The county council has been monitoring air quality since March 2021, whilst city council data has been ongoing pre-Covid-19.”
- “Boundary roads, such as Cowley Road, Iffley Road and Morrell Avenue have been monitored since early 2019 and are ongoing. Further monitoring in Divinity Road and Cowley Road will be undertaken using permanent automatic traffic counts from July/August 2021.”
- “Analysis of the whole LTN area has been ongoing since 2019 using Geofence and will be procured for 2020/2021. Journey time data is also available using Google Journey Planner and is based on current congestion levels for cars.”
Proposed amendments following feedback
- “Concerns were raised through the consultation period about contracted SEN Transport Vehicles not being able to move as required around the LTN area, as well as the potential increase in traffic on the arterial routes resulting in increased journey times beyond acceptable levels. [...] To address this, it is recommended that contracted routes are provided with an exemption to the filters and given keys to enable access through the East Oxford LTNs. This should be introduced as a trial and if successful could be rolled out to other contracted vehicles providing SEN Transport in other LTN areas. This should help address the concerns of the service.”
- “During the consultation concerns were raised specifically about the operation of the St Mary’s LTN along Howard Street. [...] A targeted consultation exercise has been undertaken with local members and residents of Howard Street who will be directly affected by the proposals. [...] Should the LTN be progressed the amended design should form the basis of the proposal for Howard Street.”
Timing and connection with wider strategic transport schemes
- “Delivery of the East Oxford LTNs in Spring 2022 is in line with the Fair Deal Alliance’s priorities, which include climate action, inequalities, the health and wellbeing of residents; and investment in inclusive, integrated and sustainable transport networks.”
- “Subject to consultation, funding and final scheme approvals the County Council, in partnership with Oxford City Council, intends to implement aspects of its Connecting Oxford proposals in 2023. Connecting Oxford includes a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) and traffic filters on some of the city’s main radial and orbital routes, as well as improvements to walking, cycling and public transport provision. These changes aim to create a “low traffic city” making it easier for residents, commuters and visitors in the city to walk, cycle and use public transport.”
- “The Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) will support Connecting Oxford by further reducing traffic and encouraging the use of low and zero emission vehicles, improving air quality and further reducing transport carbon emissions. A ZEZ pilot, covering a small number of city centre streets, has already been approved and will be implemented in February 2022.”
- “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the city will complement Connecting Oxford and the ZEZ by reducing vehicular traffic in residential areas.”
- “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and cycle Quietways were proposed for Oxford in the Oxford Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) as an effective way of promoting walking and cycling, in line with council objectives of public health, decongestion, climate change and air quality.”
- In relation to Corporate Policies and Priorities: “The LTNs have been identified as part of the Oxford LCWIP and are consistent with Oxfordshire County Council’s aim to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2035.”
- “In May 2020, in response to COVID-19, the government issued statutory guidance as an update to the 2004 Traffic Management Act (TMA) requiring councils to take measures to reallocate road space to promote cycling and walking, including the use of filters to create LTNs. Oxfordshire County Council was successful in bidding for Tranche 2 Active Travel funding which is being used to create the East Oxford LTNs.”
- “The East Oxford LTNs and Quietways are funded as part of the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Tranche 2 programme. The funding will cover the cost of physical measures, consultation expenses, legal costs and staff costs.”
- “The current works estimate for the East Oxford LTNs and Quietways is approximately £185,000 which includes an allowance for reactive works and changes to the scheme during implementation.”
What does this mean for Headington?
We’re encouraged to read in the report that the County Council has undertaken further engagement work and listened to the concerns of community stakeholder groups. It has also proposed modifications to the schemes in response to the feedback received. We assume that a similar level of engagement will be carried out ahead of the Headington LTN trials.
It’s also reassuring to know that the Council is carrying out extensive monitoring of air quality, traffic counts on boundary roads and journey times around the affected areas.
If implemented, the East Oxford LTNs will provide a vital link for people wishing to use active transport between Headington and East Oxford itself as well as onward to Oxford city centre.
However, while Cllr Bearder also asked the officers to “fully assess the impact of the delay on resources and budget on the wider Active Travel programme” at the Cabinet Member Decision in July, there’s no mention in the report of the impact of this delay on the timing and funding for the Headington schemes.
Although the Headington LTN proposals formed part of Oxfordshire’s successful Tranche 2 Active Travel Fund bid, the report states: “Whilst the current funding is sufficient to implement the East Oxford LTNs, it is noted that the overall Active Travel Tranche 2 budget is under pressure.”
Headington is the eastern gateway to Oxford and the city’s largest employment zone outside the city centre, with several major hospitals and a university. As such, it draws large volumes of traffic, destined both for the rest of the city and for the neighbourhood itself. It therefore remains in urgent need of measures to improve road safety and air quality and enable people to move around the neighbourhood safely using sustainable transport to reduce traffic volumes. With major new housing developments on the horizon, this need has recently become even more pressing.
It’s therefore vital that the Headington schemes aren’t kicked into the long grass, so Headington Liveable Streets will be seeking clarity on these points. If you share our concerns, please add your voice by writing to your County Councillor.
Read the officers’ report submitted for decision at the 16 December meeting.
View the public meeting by video link.
More background on the East Oxford LTNs:
How LTNs fit within Oxfordshire County Council’s wider transport strategy: