"To every complex problem there is a simple solution, startling in its simplicity, piercing in its clarity, and hopelessly and completely wrong" - Gore Vidal.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Headington Headlines #215

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 18 - 24 May.

The @oxfordguardian reported on the @BartonPark_ developers' presentation on Phase 1. The report includes a video.

If you missed the Barton Park presentations (the last was on Tuesday) you can see the developer's display boards here.

Surveyors were seen on Tuesday taking measurements for a possible extension of the car park at @ManorSurgery in Osler Road. The surgery is planning a significant expansion - see HH207 and this Oxford Mail article.

@HeadingtonPlan is running a poll asking if you think the first 30 minutes of parking at the two Headington car parks should be free. Vote here.

The Ampleforth Arms in Risinghurst is on the market for £700k as an "unopposed community pub".

A crash at the Headington roundabout on Wednesday morning caused traffic delays in all direstions and as far out as Elsfield.

@Oxford_Brookes released an update on their long-term Estates Strategy which includes moving the Faculty of Business from Wheatley to Headington.

Despite the recently-announced cuts in subsidies from Oxfordshire CC, Stagecoach has said there will be no changes to the timetables of routes 14 and 14a serving Marston/Old Marston. The company also says that with the completion of the Loondon Road roadworks, the 800 & 900 hospital services will revert to a 20 minute frequency — they've been every 30 minutes while the works have been happening.

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Revised Proposals for the Development of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry
  • Mr. Darke's ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE THREAD.
  • School places
  • Lye Valley
  • Botnar Trees
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Headington Headlines #214

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 11 - 17 May.

On Monday, work started on the site of the new access junction for @BartonPark_ with lane restrictions on the Headington-bound side of the Northern Bypass (A40). On Wednesday there was an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the development proper.

If you missed the presentation of the developers' latest plans for Phase 1 last Monday and Saturday, there's a final chance on Tuesday from 4 - 7 pm at the Northway Community Centre in Dora Carr Close. When they submit their formal planning application there will be the usual opportuntiy to comment via the City Council. They have distributed a flyer with some general information about the development.

The Headington Shark featured on Channel 4 on Monday, in a programme called "Damned Designs - Don't Demolish My Home.

Oxforshire County Council announced it intends to cut £2.3m from the bus services it supports. The Dial-a-Ride service is to go, but the other services to be affected have not yet been announced. The occasional H1 and H2 services which connect Headington shops with Old Marston, Sandhills and Quarry are possible targets, and the 280 service to Aylesbury might also be a victim. For anyone unfamiliar with the H1 and H2 routes, this is when they run.

Starting on Bank Holiday Monday (25 May), @CreationTheatre are running "Put On A Play In A Week" drama workshops for 6 - 8 and 9 - 12 year-olds in Headington Baptist Church.

The much anticipated closure of Headington Post Office in its present home and a move to the Co-op has been confirmed, with the Post Office opening a consultation on the proposal. Within the consultation it says the new Office will be fully open all day Saturday and offer "selected services" late and on Sundays.

Is St Leonard's Road car park Headington's version of the Bermuda Triangle? Weird happenings have been reported.

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Petitioning Oxfordshire County Council for Quarry Hollow Traffic Calming and pedestrian safety
  • Headington Post Office
  • Access road from Barton to Northway Estate
  • Barton Park development
  • Revised Proposals for the Development of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry
  • Electronic issues in St Leonard's Road Car Park
  • Here we go - scapegoating again.
  • School Places
  • Cafe Culture
  • Lye Valley
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Headington Headlines #213

Here's my weekly round-up of local news for 4 - 10 May.

For the full results of the election in both Oxford constituencies, see here.

Parking problems at the JR made the local news programmes this week, with calls for extending the amount of parking being countered by arguments that increased parking spaces only means more congestion on the roads. One proposal is for a dedicated hospital park-and-ride off Marsh Lane, which incidentally happens to be green belt land.

A classic Mini Metro was stolen from Mark Road, Headington and later found burnt out. The news spread, and the teenage owner has been offerred a free replacement by a fellow enthusiast in Scotland.

There's a presentation this evening (Monday 11 May) about the first phase of the @BartonPark_ development. It's from 6 - 7pm in the Long Room at the Town Hall, and it's open to the public. I blogged about some of the issues I think need to be sorted out before the development gets underway.

Oxybox in Marston went out of business.

The launderette in Girdlestone Road made it into a Polling Day twitter theme of unusual polling stations, triggering a wave of jokes on the lines of 'washing dirty laundry in public', 'all come out in the wash', 'the spin room', [add your own joke here].

My favourite Headington-related tweet of the week:

Active posts on the Headington & Marston e-democracy forum this week:

  • Are trams the big bang solution Oxford needs?
  • Barton Park development
  • Possible new Park & Ride at Marston for the John Radcliffe Hospital
  • Marston Park and Ride
  • Appreciating your offer.
  • Petitioning Oxfordshire County Council for Quarry Hollow Traffic Calming and pedestrian safety
I cover news from the OX3 postcode in Headington and out as far as Barton, Sandhills and Risinghurst (see map). To feed into next week's summary you can comment on this article, or tweet either with the hashtag #ox3 or @mentioning @TonyOX3.

Friday, 8 May 2015

General Election results - Oxford constituencies

For the record, here are the results for the two Oxford constituencies in the May 2015 general election.

Oxford East

Turnout 64.2%

PartyCandidateVotes%
LabAndrew Smith25,35650.0%
ConMelanie Magee10,07619.9%
GreenAnn Duncan5,89011.6%
LibDemAlasdair Murray5,45310.8%
UKIPIan Macdonald3,4516.8%
IndependentChaka Artwell1600.3%
Official Monster Raving LoonyMad Hatter1450.3%
TUSCJames Morbin1080.2%
Socialist Party of GBKevin Parkin500.1%

Oxford West & Abingdon

Turnout 71.8%

PartyCandidateVotes%
ConNicola Blackwood26,15345.7%
LibDemLayla Moran16,57128.9%
LabSally Copley7,27412.7%
UKIPAlan Harris3,9636.9%
GreenLarry Sanders2,4974.4%
Nat Health ActionHelen Salisbury7231.3%
Socialist Party of GBMike Foster660.1%

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Barton Park development Phase 1

As I reported in my previous post, there's a presentation about the development of Barton Park Phase 1 in the Town Hall on Monday 11 May. I've tried to follow this development fairly closely, and there are several matters which I think might affect its success if they are not addressed sooner rather than later. I can't go to the presentation but for those of you who can and do go, this article might give you some questions to ask.

Barton Park Phase 1

The success or failure of the Barton Park development as a whole, and whether or not it achieves the ‘exemplary’ status to which Grosvenor, the City, and Hill all say they aspire, will depend as much on matters external to Barton Park as to any within its boundaries. This article identifies some issues which to the best of my knowledge have not been addressed. If I’m wrong and some or all of them are in hand so much the better – I shall be pleased and relieved.

At the end of this analysis I have listed some questions which you might like to ask the developers if you go to the presentation at the Town Hall on Monday 11 May. Unfortunately I can’t be there, but if you find out anything please let me know!

Public transport connections 

As far as I am aware, nothing has yet been agreed with Oxford’s bus companies as to how and when they will serve the Phase 1 development. Apart from the restricted access junction with the A40 nothing has been made public on this. Informally, bus company executives have suggested initially extending the ‘Barton loop’ of the current No. 8 route. This is only practical if the whole of Barton Park’s main street is constructed as part of Phase 1 so that there is a physical road link between Barton and Barton Park. As far as I know this is not currently planned to happen.

Even if extending the Barton loop as part of Phase 1 were possible, it is unlikely to be an optimal solution. It is expected, or assumed, that a significant proportion of new residents will work at the hospitals, especially the JR, and at Oxford University’s Old Road Campus. The no. 8 route does not serve either of these destinations well. For those wanting to get to the City Centre, journey times will be unattractively long.

Access from Barton Park across the new A40 junction and into Northway will be restricted to buses, bicycles and pedestrians. It is therefore assumed that there will be a bus route using this junction. It is well established that people’s travel choices are set very soon after they start living in a new place, so it follows that for Barton Park to be setting an example of low car use, active modes of travel and use of public rather than private transport, at least one bus service across this junction and serving the destinations most users are likely to want to reach must be in place as soon as people start to move in.

I believe it is essential that this is discussed with the bus companies before the planning application is submitted so that firm proposals can be included in the developer’s travel plans.

Impact on Northway – buses, cycling, walking routes 

Following from the above, I am not aware that any ideas have been put forward for how buses, people on bicycles and people on foot will circulate once they arrive in Northway having crossed the A40. This is understandably a major concern for Northway residents, especially since the Town Green application was turned down.

The earlier planning documents show lines on maps indicating cycle and pedestrian routes from the new junction to, for example, the JR, other hospitals, Old Road Campus, Headington shops. I’m not aware that any work has been done to examine these routes, assess what needs to be done (and where the money’s coming from) to make them sufficiently attractive, convenient and safe to entice Barton Park residents out of their cars and onto active transport modes. This needs to be in hand now, not in a year’s time when people are about to move in. Expected routes for these various journeys need to be described, and the work needed to bring roads, cycle routes and walkways up to the necessary standards assessed, planned, and consulted upon.

These are of course matters for the County as Highway Authority. It would be helpful to know if the developers (Hill) or the LLP have talked to the County about these questions.

Links with Barton 

The existing community in Barton has been told that Barton and Barton Park will have strong links, both physical and social. This is said to be for the benefit of both existing and new communities. It has recently been announced, for example, that both Bartons will share a single medical centre based in an expansion of the existing one in Underhill Circus. It is intended that new shops in Barton Park will attract custom from Barton. The City Council hopes that creating Barton Park will bring a degree of regeneration to the Barton estate.

For this to happen, links rather than barriers need to be created between the two communities. This will not happen if the Phase 1 development appears to ‘turn its back’ on Barton, which will be the impression if the only way in and out of Barton Park for the first year or two is via the A40 junction. Ideally Barton Park’s main street needs from the outset to join up with Barton. Failing this, attractive, safe and convenient access for people on cycles and on foot needs to be created as part of Phase 1 to demonstrate to existing Barton residents they are welcome in Barton Park, and to open to them the alternative travel arrangements we discuss above.

Summary 

These issues can all be classified in one way or another as ‘connectivity’. They arise because of the fragmented nature of the planning and development processes, especially where transport and travel are concerned.

I share the aspirations for Barton Park to be an ‘exemplary’ new community. I know that much thought and study has gone into its conception and design. I believe that these issues need positive management and the involvement of stakeholder citizens and elected representatives rather than being left to chance or addressed as afterthoughts. They are too important for that.

Questions 

·       Will Phase 1 include building the spine road so that it runs all the way from the A40 to join up with the existing roads on the Barton estate?
·       Has there been any formal discussion with the County and the bus companies about how and when bus services to Barton Park will start?
·       What has been done to identify and designate cycle and pedestrian routes from Barton Park to important destinations and determine what needs to be done (and where the money’s coming from) to make them sufficiently attractive, convenient and safe?
·       What plans are there to keep residents in Northway particularly, and in Headington generally, involved and informed about progress on these issues?