Headington Headlines #128

Here’s my weekly round-up of local news for 2 – 8 September.

The development of Bury Knowle Park for housing was approved on Wednesday. The Warren Crescent (Lye Valley) decision was deferred.

Oxfordshire County Council released their final recommendations for the London Road bus lane improvements which will go before cabinet member Cllr David Nimmo Smith @DNimmoSmit1 for approval on 12 September. I wrote a blog article about it.

@TheMasonsArmsHQ held this year’s Headington beer festival over the weekend and had sold out by Sunday!

Headington’s pawnbroker The Trade £xchange has closed down, and @OxFurniture who only moved to Headington a few months ago have been given three months’ notice to quit by their landlord.

The house in Holyoake Road where C S Lewis lived for 7 years is up for sale as a redevelopment opportunity.

The outdoor screening of ‘Brave’ in Bury Kowle Park finally happened after being postponed twice beause of poor weather.

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

  • Electric car charging points in Headington
  • Quarry Gate pub
  • Aerial photographs of Headington and Marston
  • Proposed Changes to Green Road Roundabout
I try to 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.

London Road bus lanes – final decision

On Thursday 12 September the County Council’s cabinet member for the Environment (including Transport), Cllr David Nimmo Smith @DNimmoSmit1, will decide on the final arrangements for the latest London Road bus lane improvements under his delegated powers. The officers’ report summarises the comments and objections received through the public consultation exercise which took place in August.

The report recommends going ahead with the bus lane changes with only slight modifications. However, despite carefully thought-out suggestions from cycling groups (Cyclox, CTC and others), it seems there will be few or no improvements to cycling provision.

Quoting from the report:

16 the principle aim of the London Road Improvement Scheme has been to provide bus priority along this important route into Headington. The proposals as consulted on seek to maintain the current level of cycling provision.

These words are repeated several times in the report and its annexes, each time with the added phrase

without making the situation any worse than it already is.


17 A number of valid suggestions have been made by cycling groups and will be taken into account in any future work to investigate the possible provision of improved west bound cycle facilities on London Road. This investigation work could be incorporated into future project briefs generated by the LSTF currently available to the Council.

In other words, nothing will be done as part of this scheme but the Council will consider doing something if and when any further work is to be carried out.

This is confirmed in the report’s recommendations:

19(c)3 Provision of west bound cycle facilities on London Road be investigated separately to this scheme.
19(d) to instruct that further consideration be given to the concerns raised by Cyclox regarding the merging of cyclists and general traffic on the existing carriageway shared use footway/cycleway.

Taken together I think this must mean that if the report is approved as it stands, the Council will try to incorporate Cyclox’ suggestions for making the point where city-bound cyclists will leave the footpath and join the road safer, but any other work to provide a better cycling route on the south side of the London Road will have to wait.

This seems to be confirmed here:

Annex 1 – objections – Cyclox – 3. In order to give further consideration to the concerns raised by Cyclox in relation to the merging of cyclists on the existing off carriageway shared use footway / cycleway and general traffic, it is recommended that the proposal as consulted on is reviewed during the detailed design stage.
4. Some valid suggestions have been made by Cyclox therefore it is recommended that further investigation work be carried out into the possible provision of improved west bound cycle facilities. This investigation work could be incorporated into future project briefs generated by the LSTF currently available to the Council.

One small improvement is promised:

5. A request was also made by Cyclox to reinstate the faded yellow box marking at the sharp bend on the service road known as The Roundway adjacent to the McDonald’s restaurant to assist cyclists by deterring parking. It is recommended that this is retained but it should be noted that enforcement of this type of restriction would be required to improve its effectiveness and is unlikely to be a high priority for Thames Valley Police.

The response to all other cycling-related comments and objections is to repeat

These comments are noted and should be considered in any future review of cycling cilities on London Road.


It’s very disappointing that at a time when there’s significant and increasing political support for improving cycling provision, when the government is making money available, when over 100 MPs of all parties attended and supported the Get Britain Cycling Campaign in the House of Commons last Monday, when other cities are demonstrating a willingness to invest in cycling on a scale far greater than Oxford’s uncoordinated bits-and-pieces approach, that Oxfordshire County continues to be indifferent to cycling.

If you want to see the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, including one that calls for “A statutory requirement that cyclists’ and pedestrians’ needs are considered at an early stage of all new development schemes, including housing and business developments as well as traffic and transport schemes” here’s the link. Wouldn’t it be good if Cllr Nimmo Smith embraced this initiative and instructed his officers to include more in the scheme than just a dropped kerb or two and a bit of white paint?

London Road and Headington Roundabout bus lanes

In two earlier posts here and here I wrote about the County Council’s initial proposals for what was going to be the third phase of improvements to the London Road, covering the stretch from Bury Knowle park to the A40 Green Road roundabout.

Following public consultation and general unhappiness with the proposals, and presumably under pressure to come up with as cheap a scheme as possible, the County has now put revised plans out to consultation. The consultation is announced and the scheme briefly described on the County’s website here. Comments need to be submitted by Thursday 25 July.

I have abbreviated the Council’s announcement as follows:

Several difference [sic] options have been considered but have been rejected either because of the small benefit to bus users, the cost of the works, the impact on footways and cycle facilities or the opposition of local residents.

The new scheme addresses these issues. The main elements are:

  • short length of new bus lane on the A40 right up to the roundabout,
  • short length of road widening on the London Road near the roundabout,
  • moving the first inbound bus stop closer to the roundabout,
  • lengthening the last outbound bus stop on the London Road.

This scheme has significant advantages over the earlier options:

  • large savings in journey times for inbound buses and coaches,
  • cheaper,
  • avoids losing the cycleway on the north side footway and minimises the impact on trees,
  • traffic is able to pass buses waiting at the relocated first inbound bus stop.

Both the new inbound bus stop and the extended outbound bus stop will be made long enough to hold two buses and will be designated as Bus Stop Clearways. This means that general traffic should not be parked at the bus stops and buses will be able to pull up against the kerb.

This project forms part of a wider package of measures to improve transport choices along this route, including the Thornhill P&R expansion, the Oxonbike cycle hire scheme and a new bus service linking Headington’s hospitals with Water Eaton and Thornhill, due to begin in late September.

Once approved, construction should take place between January and June 2014. This should be followed immediately by the reconstruction of the existing inbound bus lane between Gladstone Road and Wharton Road. A strategy for maintenance of the remaining lengths of London Road is currently being reviewed.

The technical drawing showing the proposed changes is available from the County’s website and I have copied it here. If like me you find it difficult to analyse papers like this on a computer screen you will be interested to know that there will be a drop-in consultation from 4pm to 8pm on Thursday 18th July at Headington Quarry Village Hall (Jubilee Room – entrance in Margaret Road). County officers will be there to explain the scheme and take your comments.