Roads re-open in Highfield

All Saints Road, Bickerton Road and Latimer Road are now open to through traffic, pending the submission of a planning application by the contractors Vital Energi to Oxford City Council.

A temporary road surface has been tarmacked across the top of the filled in trench as an interim measure. When the pipe is laid and the road surface is reinstated after the works, the finish will be of a much higher standard.

The City Council hopes to receive the planning application and supporting documents early next week.

Thanks to all residents for your forbearance while this is sorted out.

Temporary surface at All Saints Road

Energy link work suspended temporarily

Here is a press release which was sent to us by Vital Energi this evening

“We have received correspondence from the Local Planning Authority of Oxford City Council regarding the energy link which we are currently investigating further. Works associated with the energy link underground utility services and the formation of the service trench have been suspended whilst discussions with the Local Planning Authority continue. We will continue to work closely with Oxford University Hospitals Trust, the Local Planning Authority, Residents and Stakeholders to minimise disruption. Further updates will be provided in due course.”


Ashley Malin, Project Development Director, Vital Energi

We are presently trying to find out whether parking suspension notices in Stapleton Rd can now be withdrawn, whether the fencing in All Saints Road can come down, and whether the road closures will remain. We shall update this site as soon as we know more.

County Council’s position statement on energy pipe project

We are publishing the Chief Legal Officer’s email dated 29/12 in full. It explains why the County Council believes it has undertaken its role (limited to granting permission) lawfully but it is not ‘legal advice’ as such. Those wishing to explore the possibility of taking legal action will need to seek their own independent advice.

  • I am not aware of all the communication that has (or has not) taken place.  Clearly officers considered they should have done more and you have received an apology.  I am not sure I can add much to that.  I believe the County did urge the Trust to undertake consultation as they are the key players in this Scheme.  Fundamentally, the County’s role is to ensure they have permission to undertake work on the Highway – not unlike many applications for permission the Council receives…
  • In terms of Vital Energi – acting for the Trust – they have not claimed statutory powers to undertake works to the Highway – such as, say, a mainstream utility company.  The route for those who are not a statutory undertaker is to seek permission to undertake work from the Highway Authority.  Vital Energi are a licensee, not a statutory undertaker.  Having said that, it is a condition of the licence that they abide by the provisions of the New Roads and Street Works Act.
  • Licence applications were originally applied for in January 2014 but these were not granted although detailed discussions did take place about the work Vital Energi wanted to undertake.  That resulted, finally, in further applications being made on the 28 October 2015 and granted on the 21 December 2015 – I can confirm that the works would be classed a ‘major works’ for the purposes of the NRSWA.
  • Ordinarily a licence holder is required to give 3 months’ notice from the date when the licence is applied for, not from when it is granted.  The County agreed start dates within that 3 month period, mainly due to the proximity of other scheduled works and to start earlier was considered to be the least disruptive option.
  • As to the Executive Arrangements Regulations, the granting of a licence is a function delegated to officers.  It would not be a key decision because the County’s Constitution and the relevant Regulations define a ‘key decision’ as one which is likely to (a) involve the County in significant expenditure (which this does not) or (b): ‘to be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more electoral divisions in the County’
  • As will be clear, a licence has been granted on each individual street, not for the whole Scheme.  I am not aware (although have not checked in detail) that these would involve two electoral divisions.  However, even if they did, the term ‘significant’ is defined as 25% of the people living or working in the area.  I do not believe that that threshold has been met.  As such, the grant of the licences would not be a key decision which requires an Cabinet/Executive decision.
  • In terms of the subsoil, that is really a question for the Trust.  The County’s principal concern is with the Highway fabric and as much subsoil as is needed to keep the Highway intact.  The ownership of the subsoil and notification that may need to be made to the owners of that is, as I say, a matter for the Trust undertaking the work.
  • I would not profess to know the detail of the City’s planning powers, but certainly the County’s role is restricted to granting permission under the New Roads and Street Works Act to those who wish to install apparatus  in the Highway or break open the highway for this purpose.  Accepting that communications can always be improved, I believe we have carried out that function appropriately and lawfully.  I note you are seeking your own advice on the planning issue.
  • In terms of the parking issue I can confirm this has been actively considered and the County has agreed that affected residents may apply for Visitors Permits to park in adjoining streets, outside of their designated Controlled Parking Zone.  The issue of funding of that has yet to be addressed as between the County and the Trust, but that does not affect the right of residents to apply.

Details re the visitors’ parking permits follow in the next email.

We have asked for further details regarding the “proximity of other scheduled works” which was referred to above, so that we can understand why the period of notice of less than 3 months for major works was considered to be the least disruptive option – we are expecting a further email on this later in the week.

We have also queried the dates on the temporary traffic order notices issued on 29/12/15 – there is a discrepancy between dates displayed in notices on street and those on the TTRO for All Saints Road, and the end date for the Sandfield Road works is currently listed on the TTRO as Tuesday 22 April – it’s likely that this should read Friday 22 April but we are asking for clarification.


Twenty questions for the energy pipe press launch tomorrow

Here is our latest list of questions sent in by residents


  1. What are the working hours? Will it include weekend working? On what dates will be the work be in my area?
  2. If work starts at either end simultaneously, will Old Rd and London Rd be affected at the same time? Will whole roads be closed either end?

How does it work?

  1. Can they explain the technology? How much carbon reduction do they intend to achieve?at what cost? and cost/ ton? What is the benchmark above which it becomes unaffordable? if the planners are considering all aspects of carbon reduction then consideration should also be given to the manufacture of the steel tubing, (China?) fittings, and insulation plus the cost of storage and transport to site, storage, reloading onto vehicles to the various sections of the site during the installation. The fuel used in excavation vehicles, back filling and testing plus the non green effect of the traffic congestion that will occur throughout Headington throughout the contract period.
  2. How large will the trench be and what about all the other cables, drains, sewage. Size of pipes too
  3. Is it steam or water? If it leaks under high pressure, would this damage road and paths?

Extent of the disruption

  1. How will noise and dust be controlled?
  2. Will pedestrian access along streets be affected?
  3. How will highways and footpaths be kept clean?
  4. Can we see the detailed construction plan?
  5. Can we have our pavements and footpaths resurfaced following the work? What quid pro quo can we obtain for all the disturbance?
  6. Protection of trees? In Stapleton Road for example the line is very close to the kerb so difficult to see how trees can be protected?
  7. What are the arrangements for emergency vehicles?
  8. Will refuse collections operate as normal?


  1. What arrangements for parking for contractors’ vehicles?
  2. What alternative car parking arrangements will be made for residents who may be unable to park near their house/in their drives while the work is in their street?

Communications strategy

16 Why hold a press launch – there could only be 4 or 5 press outfits interested, and why not have arranged to meet community groups already?

17 Have commercial and institutional organisations been informed? e.g. Taxi companies, delivery vehicles to/from main shops e.g. Blanchfords,  Online grocery providers, Mace on  ORC, Brookes, particularly re arrival at start of Semester 2 (NB  at Ward Focus  it transpired that Manager of Stagecoach  was not aware )

18 Have the emergency services even been informed?

Consultation with residents

19 Can we have a liaison group comprising residents reps, councillors and the contractors to meet regularly throughout the project do deal with residents issues and various construction contingences? This worked well during the Brookes JHB project.


20 Who will enforce the agreed working arrangements? What are the statutory controls – as opposed to the contractual conditions?

Update on Latimer Road traffic works

David and I have asked the county transport planning team for an update. We are concerned about continuing corner cutting by drivers turning into Latimer Road from London Road, and the lines of sight for drivers past the Dorset House hoardings when waiting for pedestrians to cross. We have received the following report from County Council officers.

They intend to mark two sets of give-way markings for traffic approaching the junction along Latimer Road, this will be in common with other junction entry treatments installed along London Road, and indeed as the junction was marked prior to the recent work to increase the height of the hump.  The first set of give-way markings drivers will encounter encourages them to give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross the side road.  The second set of give way markings are a standard treatment for side road junctions. In terms of visibility, the first set of give-way markings drivers encounter (when travelling along Latimer Road approach the junction) will offer good inter-visibility between drivers/pedestrian/cyclists at the immediate junction area. When drivers wait at the give-way markings closest to London Road good visibility is available both to the left and the right. 

The County Officer has contacted the developers of Dorset House and asked for date when the hoarding boards will be taken down.  He has also asked them to confirm if the existing stone wall currently hidden behind the hoardings will remain in place.

The build-out trial at the junction of Latimer Road and All Saints Road was installed on Monday 20 February and was in place for 5 days.  The transport planners are currently reviewing the feedback from residents they have received and are assessing the implications of installing a feature at this location.

If you have any comments about the potential buildout in All Saints Road near the junction with Latimer Road, please contact us as soon as possible. (see Contact Us! tab above)

Yellow lines are removed after public protest!

Those yellow lines are coming out today!

After great teamwork by residents and Ruth, and lots of press coverage (see earlier blogs), the County Council has issued an apology and are removing the double yellow lines form around the entry treatments in Latimer Road, Stapleton Road and Bickerton Road today.

The Oxford Mail reports that the OCC spokesman said: “We would also like to say sorry for causing this confusion and can only reiterate that the initial work was carried out with the best of intentions”

Residents in the area report that the lines are already being removed

Latest news from meeting on traffic scheme

A site meeting was held this morning by County officers concerning the new road traffic layout, and Ruth attended together with Patrick Coulter from Highfield Residents’ Association. Here are some notes of what was debated/agreed.


  • Better/clearer signage needs to be put out at both ends of Lime Walk pending roadworks to alert motorists – County investigating
  • New road junction layout signs in Lime Walk need to be more visible to make sure drivers see them well in advance of the junction, County checking this
  • County officers will not introduce priority direction signs as they believe the current arrangement cuts down traffic speed


  • County officers will carry out a check on lighting at night on this junction. Street lighting have already made some recommendations and budget checks are being made
  • The type of lamps used may be changed, one lamp column may need moving but the number of lamp-posts will remain the same
  • Extra reflectors to be added to bollards (see below)


  • Two extra bollards will be installed on each of the corners where there are none at present to protect pedestrians and stop traffic cutting corners – these to have reflectors on three sides
  • County officers will investigate whether reflectors can be put on additional sides of the existing bollards so they show up for traffic from All Saints Road
  • Meanwhile temporary bollards will be set up here as corner cutting by vehicles is perceived to be a significant issue by residents


  • There is a possibility that planter(s) may be fixed here in association with the HRA DIY traffic calming scheme
  • Meanwhile temporary bollards of some kind or a keep right sign will be set up

Speed monitoring

  • The location of the monitoring equipment was discussed. Officers are willing for a local resident to lead on location for this near the top end of Lime Walk midway between the entry points and the All Saints junction and there will be “before” and “after” checks at sites previously used
  • Officers noted that this cut down traffic scheme focuses primarily on helping pedestrians and cyclists by reducing speeds at specific conflict points, rather than reduce volume and speed of traffic throughout the whole area

Latimer Road

  • It’s acknowledged that residents are concerned about vehicles cutting corners on entering Latimer Road from All Saints Road and potential transfer of traffic from Lime Walk. The County is therefore considering how these two concerns could be dealt with inside the budget
  • It would be possible to construct  build-outs in All Saints Rd either side of the entry to Latimer Rd. This would reduce road space to one vehicle at a time
  • There is a concern about whether there would be enough turning space for large vehicles
  • Options will be considered, but in the meantime, one temporary build-out will be set up as a pilot on the Stapleton Rd side, and residents nearby will be informed before the pilot starts

Road safety issue

  • In response to a resident’s question about priority on ‘yellow brick roads’, it was confirmed that if a pedestrian has already started to cross the road then the motorist should give way. Otherwise the driver has priority.

We understand that HRA is holding a meeting to discuss suggestions for further improvements shortly, for example a change to some on road parking (rather than half-on, half off road as at present) in some residential streets, and a meeting on this will be held with the relevant County officer at a later date.

Decision Thurs 16 on change to cycle by-pass Old Road-Gipsy Lane

The agenda papers have just been released by the County Council for the Cabinet Member for Transport’s Decision Meeting on Thursday 16 February – click here to see the agenda document, and you can then click on the links to the accompanying report

Approval is sought to allow the legal use of part of the footway by cyclists. If approval is not given, minor works will provide a widened footway for use by pedestrians only

This applies to the stretch of road at the junction of Gipsy Lane and Old Road and would enable cyclists to turn left into Old Road avoiding the traffic lights