Residents’ thumbs down to car park plans

Last night’s North East area forum was quite well attended, with a good turn out of residents from our ward, and the major issue of concern was most definitely the City Council’s preferred option of development on the Headington (Old High Street) car park site

Worries centred around:

  • any potential loss of parking spaces which are key to the vitality of the shopping centre (the ‘stilts’ holding up the accommodation are likely to take up approx 10% of current spaces)
  • safety and lighting issues and the general management of undercroft parking
  • the unlikelihood that the development would be cost-effective given the above
  • concerns about carbon emissions and noise and smell for occupiers of the accommodation overhead
  • the difficulty in designing the development to be in keeping with the conservation area and the park
  • the detrimental impact on views from the park
  • the lack of any alternative parking sites to mitigate the resulting loss of spaces

Residents asked the Planning Policy Officers to research into developments of this kind in other parts of the UK to inform their views, but at present virtually all spoke against the development and will send back comments saying they will not support this option

One thought on “Residents’ thumbs down to car park plans

  1. Richard Hann says:

    IMHO: It also goes against the core strategy and the county councils transport plan.

    The Oxford City Council “Adopted Core Strategy 2026” document states that Headington is part of the heirachy of district centres and serves more than the population in the immediate area – indeed it serves 25% or more of the whole city as can be seen in section 3.2.15 (Headington) “To the north east of the city centre, Headington district centre serves the resident population in much of that quadrant of the city”

    However the document acknowledges problems with accessibilty in section 3.2.10 “Whilst the district centres have generally good accessibility by non-car modes, they need further improvements to support their vitality. In particular, while the district centres are well connected to radial bus routes into the city centre, there is a need to improve the network of cross-city public transport links and cycle and pedestrian access to these centres.” Specifically both the Summertown and Cowley sections of the document detail problems accessing Headington by public transport.

    In section 3.5.6 Summertown states “Whilst enjoying good accessibility to the city centre and settlements to the north of Oxford, public transport to parts of Headington and Cowley is less frequent.”

    In section 3.5.8 Cowley it is stated “Although there are good transport links to the city centre, there are relatively poor links at the local level between some parts of this district area (including between some of the residential and employment areas).”

    The council has a stated object in section 5.1.19 (Supporting Citywide Movements) which indicates that “Cross-city (orbital) bus services could also be improved. These would
    directly link areas outside the city centre, including district centres and the Headington hospitals, to help address the inconvenience of changing buses in the city centre.”

    Until this cross city orbital bus service is established, used by the majority of residents and commuters it would be foolhardy to reduce any of the currently available car parking spaces in Headington.

    The Core Strategy document wants to continue to enhance and strengthen the role of Headington as a retail hub. In section 8.3.9 it is stated that “The other established district centres in Cowley Road, Headington and Summertown provide an important focus for local facilities and services. Their position within the retail hierarchy will continue to offer opportunities to enhance and strengthen their role. The
    distinctive characteristics of each centre will be promoted, and there is clearly scope
    for making significant improvements to the public realm and shopping environment to
    make the centres more attractive.”

    Although removing the need for car parks may be a good long term aim, it has to be seen in the context of establishing alternatives to the facilities that will be removed by providing any development if the objectives that Oxford City Council have established in this document are to be maintained in the short term.

    Oxfordshire County Council also wish to reduce the dependency on the car, however they acknowledge in the Tranport Plan (TP3), that a significant number of people travelling into Headington do so from further afield even than the wider Oxford area, they go on to say that “Oxford has five park and ride sites, with parking space for more than 5000 cars, high frequency bus services to the city centre and some services from three of the sites directly to hospitals in the Headington area. The park and ride system is very well used: average maximum car park occupancy across the five sites is over 80%, and Thornhill is often full by 9am.” Thornhill Park and Ride.”. Again removal of existing parking provision must be resisted if the knock on affect to other areas of the infrastructure of Oxford are to be avoided.

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