CONGESTION around a future Botley Road supermarket will be worsened by a new pedestrian crossing, transport bosses have warned.

Oxford City Council approved plans for a 24,500sq ft Waitrose store by five votes to two.

But councillors imposed a condition that before the store can open, a pedestrian crossing must be built nearby to help local residents and people using buses.

If Oxfordshire County Council does not approve a crossing, it could prevent the store being opened.

Waitrose has the option to appeal against the condition, which city council officers advised councillors not to impose.

County cabinet member for transport David Nimmo-Smith said the crossing was almost certain to increase congestion on the already-busy Botley Road.

He said: “I can understand why people would want to put a crossing there.

“But I think it is likely to slow the traffic flow on that road, because you have to consider that the new Waitrose is likely to draw more vehicles than [previous store] Halfords did.

“Our officers will investigate the impact of a crossing when plans are presented.

“We are also looking at traffic across the city, including how the Westgate development will change things, as well as the improvements to Frideswide Square.

“The crossing will have an impact and so we will need to consider how to deal with that. Unfortunately the Botley Road is the Botley Road and so we are limited in how much we can do.”

Depending on how quickly Waitrose submitted plans for a crossing, Mr Nimmo-Smith said, the work could be completed before the store opens next year.

He added: “I don’t see why it couldn’t be finished by then. It’s certainly not insurmountable.”

Waitrose is aiming to open its store next year, but under current arrangements must first submit plans for, and fund, the new crossing.

Spokesman James Armstrong said the supermarket chain was pleased with the approval, but would have to review the conditions laid down.

Oxfordshire County Council would have to approve any plans submitted for any pedestrian crossing before it was be built.

The plans for the store were approved at a city council meeting on Wednesday night.

The Oxford Times:

Bus Users Oxford spokes-man Hugh Jaeger, above, said: “Obviously it is good to have more crossings, for bus users and for local people. But congestion pushes up bus operator costs and my concern for passengers is that the extra traffic the store will create will adversely affect running times.”

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