Headington Headlines #322

It’s been a quiet week for news in Headington, but here’s your weekly round-up of local news for 12 – 18 June.

It’s still technically subject to call-in by Councillors, but the application from artisan distillers @thespiritoftoad to build a visitor centre at their premises at the top of South Park (see HH314) has been approved.

Cllr Ruth Wilkinson has reported that the start of the Headley Way Access to Headington work will be delayed by at least two weeks while emergency work is carried out in St Clements. That puts the start on site back to 10 June at the earliest.

Highfield Residents’ Association and All Saints’ Church held a street party on Sunday as part of the ‘Great Get Together’ commemorating murdered MP Jo Cox.

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

  • Abandoned bikes in Headington
  • Frontier Estates Multiple Site London Road / Barton Road
  • Injured Cat – Old Road

Headington Headlines #321

Your weekly round-up of local news for 5 – 11 June.

In the general election Labour held Oxford East with @AnnelieseDodds taking the seat vacated by Andrew Smith. The LibDems’ @LaylaMoran took Oxford West and Abingdon from the Conservatives; @NicolaBlackwood lost her seat. Full results and my commentary here.

I’m grateful to @mike_rat for pointing out before the election that all four main candidates in Oxford East hold Doctorates.

The Access to Headington work on Headley Way was on show in Northway on Monday. Preparation for this part of the scheme starts on 19 June – that’s next week – with actual work starting on the 26th. It will be at the junction of Headley Way, the JR entrance and Staunton Road. Meanwhile, work on The Slade continues. Read more here.

The County Council has produced new Guidelines for Walking and Cycling, setting standards for new developments and redevelopments. I asked how far Access to Headington complied with the guidelines for cycling.

A memorial to the men of Oxfordshire who died in the Spanish Civil War was unveiled on Saturday. It stands on the triangle of land at the bottom of South Park on the corner with Morrell Avenue. The memorial was funded by the International Brigades Memorial Trust (IBMT) @IBMT_SCW

As announced last week, the Endeavour film crew was on location in Headington on Wednesday.

Headington’s newest food outlet Dragon Express opened on Polling Day (Thursday). It’s where the Rose Tree used to be.

Oxford Brookes has denied any involvement with Frontier Estates on the developer’s attempts to acquire land at the top of London Road / Barton Road for a speculative student accommodation scheme.

My favourite Headington-related tweet:

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

  • Frontier Estates Multiple Site London Road / Barton Road

General Election June 2017 – Results

Here are the results for the two Oxford constituencies in the General Election of 8 June 2017.

Oxford East

These results echo the 2015 election. In 2010 the LibDem candidate came a respectable second, but with the LibDem meltdown in 2015 the Tories took second place and held that position on Thursday. Labour’s Anneliese Dodds followed the national trend and increased Labour’s share of the vote. It wouldn’t have been surprising if her majority had  fallen, given she was taking over from the long-established and  popular Andrew Smith, but her background as an MEP helped her deliver a good and convincing campaign. Her strong pro-European stance, although tempered with her decision to accept the Brexit referendum result and not go against it, when coupled with the student vote may have helped in pro-remain Oxford.

Tory newcomer Suzanne Bartington gave a good account of herself despite failing to turn up for the first hustings of the campaign with no explanation. Given more opportunities later she wisely chose not to copy her leader’s tactics and joined in with the general debates.

Like LibDems all over the country* Kirsten Johnson will have been disappointed that the LibDem surge never materialised. She was a strong, committed and passionate pro-European candidate who came over well and who in different times could very likely have made a good MP.

Larry Sanders, standing for the Greens, also ran a  good campaign. His message will have resonated with many if not most of the constituency’s Remainers, but he suffered from the Greens’ perennial problem of not being seen as ever likely to win the seat. If we had proportional representation it might have been a different story.

* apart from in the other Oxford constituency – see below.

Oxford West & Abingdon

It was a surprise loss for the LibDems in 2010 when Evan Harris lost his seat to Tory Nicola Blackwood by only 176 votes. Since then Blackwood has established herself as a hard-working high-flyer for the Tories, becoming a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Health. This time round Layla Moran reversed the situation for the LibDems, winning the seat with a majority of 816. Her increased share of the vote, 14.8%, was the second highest of the eight seats the LibDems won in England.

Marie Tidball failed to generate the swing to Labour seen elsewhere and trailed a distant third. UKIP’s Alan Harris followed the national trend as his share of the vote fell to just half of its 2010 level and down 5.6 percentage points from 2015.

Design Guides for Walking and Cycling

While local attention is focused on the details of Access to Headington, the County has been working on two new design guides – one for walking and one for cycling. These are intended to set the standards for walking and cycling provision in any new developments or redevelopments.

The Guides were approved by the County’s Cabinet Member for the Environment on 27 April this year. They will eventually be produced as good-looking booklets, but until then the final text of each is on the County’s website:

I asked the County Council how well the Access to Headington work conformed to the new guidelines. I was told:

All roads within scope of the Access to Headington project have an annual average daily traffic of over 5,000. Most speed limits are 30mph or less so the minimum provision for cycle infrastructure is stepped access (Table 3 in the Cycling Design Guide).

This is proposed for The Slade (2m hybrid cycle lanes in both directions) where there is sufficient space to accommodate this. On other roads the provision will be a mix of cycle tracks and lanes and reflects what officers think is the best compromise between the safety of cyclists, keeping some on-street parking provision, working with limited available carriageway widths and a desire to reduce the potential for any further loss of trees and grass verges.  Available funding and cost of works to provide alternative cycle infrastructure was also taken into consideration such as on Old Road (removing the double kerb) and Headley Way (retaining structures required on the downhill section).


Access to Headington – Headley Way & Cherwell Drive

The next phase of Access to Headington work covers Headley Way and Cherwell Drive. It includes remodelling the junction at the JR access, where the mini-roundabout will be replaced by traffic lights. At the bottom of the hill the whole junction will be altered with lights replacing the double roundabout. The one-way flow on the service road outside the shops will be reversed.

More-or-less continuous cycle paths will be created on both sides of Headley Way and Cherwell Drive. Although there are significant shortcomings in the design, which is regrettable, cyclists should find their journeys feeling safer and more comfortable.

Site equipment will start appearing on 19 June with construction beginning a week later. This will be at the JR entrance junction and will include the junction of the lower (Jack Straw’s Lane) part of Staunton Road with Headley Way. The work here and elsewhere will continue until about the third week of October, when it will be suspended until restarting at the beginning of January 2018. A detailed schedule of planned dates for the whole project is not yet available.

Paint marks
These marks can only mean one thing – roadworks!
Engineering drawing, JR entrance
Work starts here 19 June.

The Jack Straw’s Lane section of Staunton Road will be closed for about three weeks while the work is happening.

At present, motor vehicles leaving this part of Staunton Road wanting to turn right on Headley Way have to turn left and make a U-turn round the mini roundabout. Once the roundabout has been replaced by traffic lights this won’t be possible; there’s no obvious alternative.

I made a few notes on the plans when I went to the open exhibition in Northway on Monday, concentrating on the cycling aspects. I’ve passed them to the County’s Access to Headington team and you can read them here. I understand Cyclox will be sending some more comprehensive comments.

You can find the engineers’ drawings here. In the sidebar to the right of this post are links to the County’s website for the project and for signing up to their regular newsletter about the scheme.

Headington Headlines #320

Your weekly round-up of local news for 29 May – 4 June.

I know of only one more hustings for Oxford East, and it’s today (Monday) at 6.30pm in the Sheldonian Theatre, organised by Oxford University Students’ Union. It’s open to all and you can register on Eventbrite.

The hustings organised by Churches Together in Headington was on Thursday (1 June). It was well-attended and four of the five candidates were there; only Labour’s Anneliese Dodds was missing due to a prior commitment. She was represented by City Council leader Bob Price. It was a polite affair at least up to the time when I had to leave, though I gather it got a bit livelier once discussion was thrown open to the floor.

Whether or not you’ve been to a hustings, or have been doorstepped or leafleted by any of the parties, and whoever you support please turn out to vote on Thursday.

Turning to other matters, for the record all the heatpipe roadworks are definitely over. Here’s the last road to be cleared, photographed yesterday.

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

Although Access to Headington work on The Slade is far from finished, the countdown to the next phase, Headley Way, has begun. There’s a public exhibition of the plans for the work today (5 June) at the Northway Community Centre, Dora Carr Close from 2.00 – 6.00 pm. Engineers from the County will be there to answer questions and listen to your comments but it’s not a formal consultation. No further significant changes to this phase of the scheme are likely.

The Headington Festival took place over the weekend. The extra-large Saturday market was busy in the sunshine and so were the stalls and entertainments in Bury Knowle Park on Sunday, even though the sunshine had given way to cloud.

After nearly two decades when private schools have dominated the competition, St Joseph’s Primary School on Headley Way has won the Oxfordshire Under-11 Chess League. They beat Magdalen College School to win the championship.

The disabled spaces at the JR car park No. 2 were closed off this week. A temporary steel structure and a large crane appeared. This is what the Hospital Trust said on their facebook page:

You may have noticed a very large crane – and the temporary closure of some spaces – in Car Park 2 on the John Radcliffe site. This is to allow vital replacement air handling units to be lifted onto the rooftop of the hospital over the next week. We’re sorry for the disruption and inconvenience and ask you to bear with us during this period.

The first phase of work will last until the evening of Monday 5 June. From today (Friday 2 June), the roundabout by the main entrance, as well as part of Car Park 2, will be closed to allow the crane to be brought in.

A second crane will be brought onto the JR site on Saturday 10 June to deliver steelwork and air handling units, which will then be lifted onto the rooftop of the hospital. This will affect the roundabout by the main entrance only.

Crane in JR car park
Crane in JR car park

The Oxford Mail reports that The Grill House, opening where Connell’s estate agents used to be (next to Bury Knowle Park), is run by the same man who owns the Old Mill Coffee Shop in Chipping Norton. A good sign is that The Old Mill has a five-star hygiene rating.

The anger at the way Frontier Estates has been trying to acquire land to build more speculative student accommodation has been growing. Cllr Alex Hollingsworth has become involved, and apparently the draft new Local Plan for the City which will be out for consultation in the next few months includes an intention to curb such developments. The Oxford Mail ran the story, and to follow the local debate you need to go to the e-democracy forum.

My favourite Headington-related tweet:

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

  • Frontier Estates Multiple Site London Road / Barton Road
  • Yellow dust around St Leonard’s Rd
  • Lost dog
  • Lost Keys