It was always clear that the huge  expansion of the Churchill Hospital, in Headington, and creation of a vast research area along Old Road and the Park Hospital was always going to be a mixed blessing, at least for Headington residents.

While boosting the local economy and providing cancer patients and others with some of the best health facilities in the country, these major developments were always going to worsen the already appalling levels of traffic congestion.

Oxfordshire County Council is to be applauded in that it has recognised this fact and is setting out options at the earliest opportunity to try to resolve the problem in its Oxford Transport Strategy, as part of fourth Local Transport Plan.

But it is difficult to see why it is producing maps showing a bus route cutting across one of the city’s most treasured nature areas, the Lye Valley, which would also cross golf fairways at Southfield.
 Even the directors of the golf club knew nothing about this idea until this week, nor it seems did the Friends of Lye Valley. 
 The response from Oxfordshire County Council has been to say that the Lye Valley idea is merely conceptual and that it is keeping all options open as it investigates the idea of rapid transit routes in the so called Eastern Arc.
It even says that its preferred option is to use existing roads.

But with a new routes drawn on maps, and those maps going out for consultation, it is easy to see why people react with understandable alarm. 

 At the same time the county council will have certainly fuelled concern by the bewildering nature of the documents that the public is now being consulted on. 

What was already complicated with so many of the big Connecting Oxfordshire ideas all being lumped together, has been made positively mystifying in a set of documents even those familiar with planning documents will struggle to understand.

The section on the Eastern Arc shows Super Premium Transit routes, premium transit routes and connector transit routes, leaving readers with little idea whether we are talking link roads, tracks or bus only lanes. 

 In the present post-Castle Mill climate it is not wise to draw lines across wildlife reserves and green spaces and for a council to then say it is only thinking conceptually.

 As for residents, golfers and anyone who enjoys opens spaces, it would be even more unwise to accept reassurances that producing that map was just a way of keeping their transport and planning officers out of mischief on a quiet afternoon.