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'Gateway traffic fears need to be looked at'
11:00am Friday 28th September 2012 in News
traffic fears must be addressed before a major commercial development on Oxford’s northern fringe moves forward, according to the landowner and business leaders.
The Northern Gateway scheme near the A34 Pear Tree interchange includes plans for 200 homes alongside business space to create up to 3,000 jobs.
And the major landowner, St John’s College, said this week it wanted “consensus” between the authorities before moving forward.
Yesterday Nigel Wild, president of Oxfordshire Chamber of Commerce , endorsed that stance.
He said: “The Northern Gateway could be good for development and jobs.
“With the Pear Tree and Wolvercote roundabouts in such close proximity, it’s a very sensitive traffic area and I think St John’s is right – the councils need to have a joined-up approach.”
Fellow retail spokesman Graham Jones, also vice-chairman of the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Plan working group, added: “There are major conflicts with traffic at the Wolvercote roundabout and that needs to be resolved before you create a new development.”
The college’s agreement with a development partner has now expired and it said it would not be appointing a replacement to help it design and build the scheme, until the city and county councils could agree on key issues.
Principal bursar Prof Andrew Parker said the college wanted to move forward once there was “widespread local support”.
He said: “St John’s is keen to seek a consensus with the local authorities and is content to wait until the city and county councils are ready to express a view.
“We won’t stand in the way of any well-conceived plans for the area. If we get a clear steer from the community and local authorities that it is what they want to do we are ready to help.”
City council bosses have said the land is critical to Oxford’s economy as it is the only major site suitable for employment left within the city boundaries.
It is part of Oxford’s core strategy, the city’s blueprint for development until 2026, which was approved in Dec-ember 2010.
But the county is unsure about the implications on two of the city’s busiest junctions.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “The main issue is the traffic.
“At the Pear Tree and Wolvercote roundabouts there is an awful lot of congestion and that is the main issue which needs to be addressed.”
The city council are still hopeful work could start before the end of the decade.
City council leader Bob Price said: “From the county council’s point of view, the Wolvercote Roundabout and Pear Tree Roundabout are important junctions so I am sure they will be the matter of debate.
“Until there is a scheme on the ground it will be difficult to be clear about what the effects will be.”