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German architect says Oxford is 'strangled by traffic'
THE man who helped rebuild one of Germany’s biggest cities said Oxford is being strangled by traffic.
Prof Wulf Daseking, the architect behind the German city of Freiburg, made the comments about the 885-home Barton West development – which he is urging city residents to support to free up Oxford’s log-jammed roads.
Freiburg is being touted as the inspiration behind what would be Oxford’s largest development in a generation.
And his comments come as officials have drawn up a £100m wishlist of of vital schemes needed to fix Oxfordshire’s worst roads. Officials said the top priority was the conversion of Cutteslowe roundabout into a signal controlled-junction, which is expected to cost £4.139m.
The Northern Gateway A40 Wolvercote Roundabout, Wantage Eastern Link Road, a £20m series of improvements to swathes of the A34, an upgrade to the London Road railway crossing in Bicester, and £4m repairs to Featherbed Lane, between Didcot and Wantage, are also identified as in major need of cash.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail yesterday, Prof Daseking said: “Your beautiful city is being strangled by traffic and pedestrians have too little space.
“Besides the inner city, the open space is in some ways really terrible. There is a difference of the structure of the population, with those in the north better off and in the south those who have less money. You have to find a way to make more mixture.
“Oxford is a fantastic city, but I saw lots of things which have urgently to be discussed – the parking places and the area around the station towards the inner city, for example.
“The people in your country must find a way to manage it that the prices for the land can be frozen and not be sold for the highest price.”
The professor also warned what he described as the social divide in Oxford was also becoming a major issue, citing the London riots as a potential result of such problems.
Barton West was modelled on the south-west German city, which won European City of the Year in 2012, and has expanded by several thousand houses over the past decade. Oxford Brookes University and the Academy of Urbanism invited Prof Daseking, an influential advisor to governments on sustainable development, to speak at a meeting on the development.
In it, he said that Oxford risked losing revenue by clogging its roads, and current levels of social exclusion could not continue.
According to Prof Daseking, cars dominate the roads at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists, and central Oxfordshire has to do more to continue to attract investment. He was driven around Oxford for two hours before delivering the speech at a debate on housing at Oxford Old Town Hall.
His speech followed two moves by council chiefs to sort out Oxford’s traffic woes. According to Oxfordshire’s Local Transport Board (LTB), a county-wide committee of transport chiefs, the price of fixing the county’s worst roads tops £100m.
They are hoping that millions will be released from the Government’s “City Deal”, which is set – if it gets passed – to unlock millions in public and private investment to fund road improvements, public transport and job training.
Developer cash would also be used to aid major transport projects in Oxfordshire. Officials are also hoping to tap into a £6bn of Government funding for transport schemes. But despite the potential for a windfall, there could still be a shortfall in funding for some of the worst schemes.
On Tuesday, the county council's cabinet will mull over the details of the City Deal bid, which is expected to be submitted to the Government in October.
A successful City Deal would devolve more power to the LTB to allocate private cash to the roads in most need of work.
Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council and chairman of the LTB, said: “Looking at traffic flow and potential of the Northern Gateway, you can see that Cutteslowe is a major blockage coming from the A44.
“Unlocking that might mean we find a solution to solving some quite major problems.
“We’ve taken our time to get it sorted and these are schemes which we are pushing hard to get additional funding for.”
City council leader Bob Price said dealing with Cutteslowe roundabout was crucial.
“Sorting out that roundabout could have a huge knock-on effect,” he said. “It will be good for the city and good for the economy of the whole county.”
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