More than a decade ago council, heritage and university leaders gathered at the Bodleian Library to show their support for a newly-published study, Broad Street: The Plan.

Hailing the Broad as “one of the great urban spaces of Europe,” the carefully researched document showed how the eastern end could be transformed into a University Square, with the historic street cleared of clutter so the buildings could be properly enjoyed.

Many much large schemes have been started or completed since then – Westgate, the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Frideswide Square (the list could fill the rest of this column) – but improvements to the Broad have remained just an ambition in the Oxford Transport Strategy.

The opening of the Weston Library, and the observations of Jim Eyre, the lead architect involved in this superb scheme, has hopefully put pedestrianising and resurfacing the Broad firmly back on the city's agenda.

With 30,000 people flocking to the Weston in a week, there is every reason to look again at creating a car/tour bus-free public area between the Weston and Clarendon Building and Sheldonian Theatre, to allow this street to be enjoyed.
Clearly consideration would have to be given to re-routing traffic to ensure deliveries can continue to be made to shops, cafes, colleges and the Covered Market. There is a strong case to focus initially on the eastern end of the Broad.

But readers may be surprised to hear county council leader Ian Hudspeth warning that finance could ultimately hold up a scheme that the university, city council, County Hall and the Oxford Preservation Trust all support.

For readers may have become used to seeing hundreds of millions being pumped into Oxfordshire transport infrastructure in City Deals and Local Growth Funds. 
However, it seems these huge sums are only available if linked to job creation, major research hubs and creating business parks – which inevitably come with negative consequences for the Green Belt, housing and congestion.
It will strike others as odd that while a scheme such as a bus tunnel under High Street is being consulted upon, the cost of quality paving stones could be an obstacle to finally delivering a Broad Street scheme that almost everyone wants to see.
The university, which deserves our thanks for delivering in the Weston, such a wonderful new public Oxford visitor magnet, has made encouraging noises about the benefits of pedestrianisation, bringing easier access between the Sheldonian Theatre, the Weston Library, and the Broad Street colleges. Having invested £80m already in the Weston Library, how much it would be prepared to pay towards repaving the street outside is questionable.
Money from developers’ contributions is one possibility, although the Broad would face strong competition from dozens of other schemes such as affordable housing.
So would it not be sensible if, after the General Election, bids for Government transport funding could extend beyond supporting research hubs and business park access. For as real Knowledge Spines go, you would be hard pressed to improve on Broad Street.