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'More city traffic problems could turn shoppers away'
SHOPPERS could be put off coming into Oxford if potential traffic problems posed by new developments aren’t addressed, it has been claimed.
Keith Slater of the Oxfordshire Town Chamber Network, said it was not yet clear what measures would be taken to compensate for the increased road congestion a redeveloped Westgate Centre and the Northern Gateway will cause.
Mr Slater said: “If you look at the proposed space available, the indication is that the retail turnover may need to rise by 50 per cent to pay for the development. How it could do that, without building extra parking or improving any existing road systems, is the big question.”
The Westgate car park holds 1,200 vehicles and a proposed basement car park would provide 1,000 more spaces.
One motorist suggested shoppers could be attracted to retail destinations outside Oxford such as Marriotts Walk in Witney, which offers free parking, if traffic in the city gets any worse.
Tony Chalkly, from Witney, said: “Congestion around the Oxford area can already turn what, on a good day, can be a 15-minute journey into an hour’s drive. Why queue from Botley to get into Oxford and pay parking when you could just go somewhere elsewhere like Witney and pay nothing?”
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) also fears a proposed link road between the A40 and A44 will not be enough to combat congestion caused by the Northern Gateway, north of Oxford.
Sietske Boeles, chairman of CPRE Oxford, said: “Sorting out the transport issues is absolutely vital. Commuters in this area already suffer enormous delays and could face even longer journey times.”
But Colin Cook, city council board member for city development, said: “Ideally, you would want everything in place before the Westgate development. But if you wait for X to happen before Y, nothing would get built.”
A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, which is responsible for highways, said it was “determined to ensure Oxfordshire has a transport system fit for the future.”
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