Closing the Book on the Energy Project

This post is really a formality to record that the roadworks to lay the heatpipe between the JR and Churchill Hospitals are now complete. All the machinery is gone, the roads have been reinstated, and the only signs of all the disruption are stretches of new black tarmac which will soon fade.

The last road to be affected was Churchill Drive, and work there finished about ten days ago. To prove it, here’s a picture taken today.

Churchill Drive after the heatpipe work was completed, June 2017
Churchill Drive after the heatpipe work was completed, June 2017

I’ve moved the full story of the Headington Heatpipe to this website’s archive.

Heatpipe: Fat Lady Clears her Throat

No street parties. No bunting. No councillors or retiring MPs cutting ribbons. Just these two low-key tweets told us that all the heatpipe roadworks in Headington’s residential streets are finished.

The Fat Lady isn’t going to sing for another few weeks though. Work on Churchill Drive is still causing traffic delays and diversions. This work is due to finish on 26 May. Expect a loud aria to be heard throughout Headington!

Latest on the Heatpipe work

At the latest liaison meeting with Vital Energi we learned that the pipe-laying operation is slightly behind schedule but with no serious problems. Most of the delays are due to congested services and other underground problems that couldn’t be detected before the digging started. The contractors have also done some repair work to the surface water drains in Lime Walk which were blocked or broken. Here is the latest schedule, which is always kept up to date on the Hospital website.

Work schedule issued 23 Feb 2017
Work schedule issued 23 Feb 2017

We also heard details of how the London Road work will be managed. Traffic lights will be set west of Sandfield Road and east of Latimer Road. Two of the three lanes will be closed, with all traffic confined to the remainng single lane. The Latimer side will be closed first with all traffic using the eastbound bus lane; then the system will be switched so traffic runs on the westbound lane.

Both Latimer and Sandfield Roads will be closed at their junctions with the London Road for the duration of this work, with diversions set up for traffic needing access.

Heatpipe roadworks slipping

The roadworks installing the heatpipe have slipped behind schedule. Vital Energi say this is because

  • installing the storm drain and sewer for the Winvic development on Latimer Road has taken longer than expected;
  • there has been unforeseen concrete and utilities congestion in All Saints Road and Lime Walk, and
  • County Council Access to Headington work at Roosevelt Drive/Old Road is currently over-running by two weeks.

Work in Latimer Road has been put back two weeks, and in Lime Walk one week. Work in Sandfield Road is still expected to start today (16 January). See the latest complete schedule here, or my map which shows the current works and what’s coming up next.

Smooth Operators

Exactly a year ago today (9 December 2015) I went to the first public meeting about the Hospital Energy Project – the ‘heatpipe’. More than 80 local residents crowded into All Saints’ Church House to confront representatives from the Hospital Trust and Vital Energi and express their anger and frustration at discovering their local streets were going to be closed and dug up, their parking spaces lost for several weeks, and their drives blocked without them ever having been warned or consulted.

A lot has happened since then. The Hospital Trust, Vital Energi and the County Council have all in turn apologised and in some cases reviewed their procedures. The City Council has forced the contractors to get planning permission for the work. Local Councillors and residents have put in a huge amount of time and energy to make sure that disruption and inconvenience is kept to a minimum. You can follow the story through my posts under ‘Energy Project’.

Move on a year, and last night there was the latest ‘Stakeholder Liaison Meeting’, effectively a public meeting with Vital Energi and the Hospital Trust for people to keep up to date with progress and raise any concerns. It was the first such meeting since pipelaying work started almost two weeks ago. Only six local residents and Councillor Ruth Wilkinson were there. The Vital Energi engineers gave a progress report: they’d had a few problems but they’d all been sorted; everything was going well and on schedule. A few polite questions were asked and answered. The meeting struggled to last 30 minutes. How things have changed!

Having got off to a dreadful start a year ago I think credit is due to both the Trust and Vital Energi for recognising they had to raise their game and work with local residents rather than ignore them. The County too, who have been active in helping coordinate these works with Access to Headington – although they are still capable of crass blunders like posting parking suspension notices covering the whole period of the works. Credit too to Councillors Ruth Wilkinson and Roz Smith and numerous local residents for their part representing people’s concerns and helping find solutions.

So now as hostilities have ended and peace has broken out, it all goes to show that openness, collaboration and cooperation produce the best outcomes. There are bound to be unforeseen problems cropping up as the work goes on, but there seems to be confidence that they will be sorted out amicably. Merry Christmas, OUH NHS FT and Vital Energi!

Parking During Heatpipe Work

With roadworks for the OUH Energy Project (the heatpipe) starting on 28 November, ‘No Parking’ notices have been posted on all the affected roads. The notices say parking is suspended for the whole duration of the works – four and a half months.

Following the inevitable – and fully justified – outcry the Hospital Trust has circulated this statement:

The County Council has put up erroneous notices saying that all parking is banned in all the residential streets for the duration of the Energy Link. This was done for all the right reasons and with the best intentions, but we have now agreed with the parking team that we will inform them 2 weeks in advance of the need to close off parking bays so that there is a “rolling” system and, therefore, as few parking spaces as possible will be closed off at any one time.