News that Oxford failed in its bid to Government for £12m towards traffic improvements in North Oxford has hardly caused widespread anguish among local residents this week.

For many it will be seen as nothing short of a blessing — putting a brake on the Northern Gateway scheme, which will create 500 homes, a 180-bed hotel and a business park at Pear Tree. The speed with which the scheme seems to be moving through the planning process — the public consultation ends on September 15 with plans due to go to the Secretary of State in October — has led residents, the CPRE and local councillors to fear that the scheme is being bulldozed through.

Claims that the development has been increased in size by 63 per cent has also hit public confidence.

Given that this site is bordered by the A40, A44 and A34, sitting in the heart of one of Oxfordshire’s most chronically-congested section of roads, the prospect of this scheme moving forward before traffic issues have been resolved is indeed appalling.

Little wonder the likes of Jean Fooks are calling for the consultation period to be extended, while the newly-created Wolvercote Green Action Group is right to remind everyone — including the MP for Witney — that any “impending traffic nightmare” would not only impact upon the Northern Gateway’s immediate neighbours.

The £12m sought from the Government’s Local Growth Fund was for a whole series of measures — a link road through the site, bus lanes and improved park-and-ride. But it is feared, all this simply will not be enough, given the amount of traffic to be generated by so many new homes, hotel guests and workers.

The city council appears still confident that the funding will be found, while accepting that the timescale of the scheme may have to be adjusted.

But the priority of the Town Hall, and the other supporters of the Northern Gateway scheme, should be to give a detailed explanation to residents — and indeed all road users — as to how Pear Tree is going to cope with thousands of additional cars.

Many local people complain that they have only until September 15 to submit comments in the consultation, and are having to do so without proper understanding of how the road network will work. It is doubtful that the want of £12m for infrastructure will put an end to the scheme.

With so many millions already earmarked for Oxford in Government City Deals and Local Growth Deals, and with the city clearly now viewed as an important engine of growth, there is every chance that a future bid could be successful. But all sides could benefit from having more time to come to terms with the scale of what is being proposed north of the city.

With an inspector warning that the scheme cannot go ahead until the traffic issues are resolved, the city council would be unwise to rush ahead with the strength of local opposition at its current level.

Money may yet well prove the least of the city’s problems when it comes to the Northern Gateway.