It might not be up there with the long ago proposed relief road across Christ Church Meadow, but many readers would surely put talk of reintroducing buses into Cornmarket high on any list of mad Oxford transport ideas.

Anyone living or visiting the city in the 1960s will recall the snarl-ups in the city’s main shopping area, with cars belching fumes and queuing bumper-to-bumper in Cornmarket.

Younger readers will certainly remember the long and hugely costly road to finally getting Cornmarket pedestrianised in 1999 as part of a major shake-up of Oxford’s traffic system, before the granite cracked and the whole street had to be repaved again with York stone at a cost of £2.7m.

But today we report calls to consider having Cornmarket again reopened to buses by bus companies — and this at a time when many were looking forward to seeing the pedestrianisation of Queen Street as part of the Westgate redevelopment. Can they be serious?

Or is it a case of bus companies, increasingly frustrated and anxious about how plans for Westgate, Queen Street and Frideswide Square will affect routes, wanting to urgently concentrate minds?

In March, the companies expressed alarm that taking buses out of Queen Street might lead to increased congestion and increased journey times.

But with John Lewis, whose store will be the centrepiece of the new Westgate, understood to want buses taken out of Queen Street, a serious impasse has loomed for some time.

Hopes that progress behind the scenes was being made to develop an agreed new city centre bus network now appear to be ill-founded.

Suggestions of buses, even a limited number, operating in Cornmarket will strike many as a giant step backwards, almost smacking of desperation. For work on the £400m retail development, to provide 70 new shops, up to 120 new homes and a two-storey basement car park could be under way early next year.

Already a long-term coach and lorry car park is moving out of Oxpens to make way for a temporary car park at Oxpens to replace the Westgate multi-storey. Radical thinking is needed for sure when it comes to buses, but we all had rather hoped that the radical thinking would have taken place a good deal earlier, with route issues resolved.

Talk of buses in Cornmarket seems to suggest a return to a very old and unappealing drawing board.