Gateway plans ‘rushed’, warns residents’ leader

The Oxford Times: Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum chairman John Bleach Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum chairman John Bleach

CONCERNS have been raised that a major development in North Oxford is being rushed through by planning bosses.

Oxford City Council wants to develop the 100-acre Northern Gateway site near Wolvercote to create a business park and homes and is hoping to draw up plans and win approval for them within 18 months.

But this timescale has been criticised as not being long enough to get the development right by John Bleach, chairman of the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum.

He said: “This is such a complex development and there are so many issues that not to give it more time could lead to a very unsatisfactory result.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to solve a lot of problems but all these things need time.”

The council is embarking on the process of creating an Area Action Plan (AAP) for the site similar to the one it created for Barton West.

The plan has to be approved by a government planning inspector before any work can go-ahead.

It is hoped that a public inquiry into the plan will take place in January 2015.

City council planning officer Rachel Williams said: “It is a tight time frame but it is my part of the work which is being squeezed, not the public consultations, and so far we are happy that we can keep to our programme.”

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Once developed, it is hoped the Northern Gateway site will create 3,000 jobs and 200 homes on a triangle of land between the A40, A34 and A44 along with land north of the Wolvercote roundabout and south of the A40.

In response to fears about traffic congestion in the area, the city council also proposes to create three new roads linking the A40 with the A44, turn the Pear Tree park and ride into a multi-storey car park and put traffic lights on the Pear Tree roundabout.

Oxfordshire County Council is also thinking about creating a new park and ride at Eynsham.

A consultation is due to begin soon on the options document for the development, which sets out some of the intentions for the site.

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