Cherwell District Council’s planning Committee held its first online virtual meeting on 21st May with multiple applications being considered during a 5 hour marathon session.
Amongst the applications were outline planning permission for B1 development and full planning permission for a health and racquets club on land adjacent To Promised Land Farm, Wendlebury Road, Chesterton. (Application reference 19/01740/HYBRID.) This included a new access road layout together with the provision of a new roundabout at the junction between Vendee Drive and Wendlebury Road. This was criticised by Wendlebury Parish Council and the Bicester Bike Users Group (BBUG) as being potentially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. BBUG submitted a detailed response with a list of suggested improvements to the layout.
Amongst the major concerns were the lack of horizontal separation between cyclists and other road users on a major carriageway as well as confused pathways, combined cycle and pedestrian paths and no proper waiting areas for pedestrians and cyclists. Cyclists and pedestrians will be forced to take a long and circuitous route to cross the roundabout at one point, meaning they will be tempted to cross in more dangerous locations.
Paul Troop addressed the meeting on behalf of BBUG and the application was vehemently opposed by Green councillor Ian Middleton as a member of the planning committee. Cllr Middleton seconded a motion to defer the application to urge the developers to engage with BBUG and for more information on traffic volume from OCC highways to be produced. This was supported by Libdem and Independent councillors but voted down by Labour and Conservatives. The application was then passed with support from Labour and the Conservatives.
Ian Middleton commented, "I was very surprised to see such a blinkered approach from the majority of the committee to the concerns from local groups over this roundabout. As a council we should be more responsive to the needs and concerns of cyclists and this doesn’t set a good precedent for the future. The changes BBUG were suggesting were fairly minor but would have made a big impact on safety. Deferring the application would have focussed the developers minds on making these changes, or they could have been included as condition. Both options were rejected.
"It was clear to me that this road layout is inherently dangerous to cyclists. Those who voted to pass the application seemed content to trust theoretical modelling from the Highways department, whereas I prefer to listen to local groups who have on-the-ground experience. It’s an accident waiting to happen. I voted against the application as I didn’t want someone’s injury, or even death, on my conscience.”
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