Council launches new local business guide and interactive online service to support businesses

The City Council has launched its 2017-2019 Oxford Business Guide, which showcases the city’s economic strengths, growth opportunities, and range of services designed to support business.

Produced in partnership with Burrows Communication, the guide is in hard copy and also in interactive digital format, and supports business with local regulatory functions, through to business networks and advice.

The accompanying ‘It’s Local’ Oxford online service provides an interactive listing of local businesses and organisations that provide services to business and consumers right across the city. All businesses are encouraged to sign up to ‘It’s Local Oxford, and add their free company profile.

The Oxford Business Guide e-book can be accessed here: www.itslocaloxford.co.uk/oxford/desktop/flip/index.html

‘It’s Local’ Oxford: www.itslocaloxford.co.uk

New appeal – 29 Old High Street

We’re advised of the following by Oxford City Council:

Site Address: 29 Old High Street, Headington

Appeal Reference: APP/G3110/X/17/3191929

Mr Young has appealed against refusal of planning permission issued by the Council for the application to certify that Proposed sub-division of existing house to form 2x 2-bed flats and erection of x3 dwellings to create a 2x 2-bed flat and 1x 1-bed flat is lawful (planning reference 17/02576/CPU).

This appeal will be decided by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State at a public inquiry, date to be determined.

Those who sent in comments during the initial consultation period have until 5th April to amend or withdraw those comments, or to submit new or additional comments, copies of which will be sent to the appellant and the Inspector.

 

Rationale for Access to Headington scheme

The following statement was sent today by one of the County Council transport planners in response to queries about the validity of the Access to Headington improvements. We display it here for the benefit of residents.

I can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpageI can confirm that prior to government funding being awarded the project was subject to a full Department for Transport business case. This confirmed that the proposals would deliver significant benefits linked to reduced vehicle delay and an uptake in cycling as a result of junction improvements and new and improved cycle lanes and priority at junctions. This was reported in a paper that went to a Cabinet Member Decisions meeting in June 2016, when the scheme was also approved by the county council following an extensive period of consultation. The paper can be viewed via the following webpage

The same paper also confirmed that alternative roundabout designs were considered early in the design process for the Marston Road/Headley Way/Marsh Lane junctions. However, detailed modelling confirms that these designs would still cause large queues and delay, whereas junction modelling of the proposed signalised arrangement estimates that total vehicle delay and queuing will be significantly reduced. As a result, more of the junction’s capacity can be given over to prioritising buses through selective vehicle detection, cycle safety can be improved with the introduction of cycle pre-signals, and additional controlled crossings for pedestrians and cyclists can be installed, without having a negative impact on general traffic. 

In terms of the bus-link at Northway then this was planned for local bus services only given the roads in Northway are narrow and the route to the JR Hospital less direct than the B4495, which also serves more destinations. Furthermore, the Access to Headington aligns with the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS), which proposes a series of projects that look to address citywide connectivity on Oxford’s orbital and radial routes, with proposed improvements on the B4495 delivering the first phase of infrastructure needed to achieve rapid transit and cycle networks as set out in the OTS. There have no changes to the OTS since Access to Headington was planned, design and consulted on which would require the scheme to be re-considered.  

 

Access to Headington latest

The Growth Board met yesterday in closed session. Although the Access to Headington project was not referred to on the agenda, it was discussed under an item with a different portfolio name.

We understand that individual projects are not likely to be announced till the 7th February. So the planned and published Staunton Road closure may still go ahead.

 

Tackling isolation and loneliness

Ruth recently attended a meeting convened by Headington Action on support for the lonely and isolated in Headington. Yesterday she asked a question in Council relating to the minute of a CEB meeting which said
136.Scrutiny Committee Reports Preventing Elderly Isolation 

Cllr Gant said the Scrutiny discussion had been supported well by officers and the Board Member. The Committee had looked at some specific matters as well as the more general ones reflected in the recommendations. He welcomed the positive response to the recommendations from the Board Member. 

The Chair noted that isolation was not just a function of age or ethnicity and should be considered across the piece. This was a subject which warranted some more concrete action and to that end he would ask for it be picked up by the Oxfordshire Strategic Partnership. 

Ruth said that Headington Action had convened a meeting on support for the lonely and isolated in the Headington Neighbourhood Area which had been very useful, and were actively working on mapping what is currently available. Could the Board Member indicate in what way he thought the OSP might take this forward?

Bob Price said he was very interested to hear about the Headington initiative. At a recent meeting of the OSP, support for the isolated (of all ages, not just the elderly) was identified as a key issue, and they would be setting up a Task and Finish Group to identify further action at their March meeting.

He would welcome an email from Ruth giving contact names from the Headington Community who might like to input to the discussions of the Task and Finish Group, and we have let Headington Action know. It would be great to have a Headington presence at this strategic level!

 

How to complain about noisy construction work

We now have a contact at Oxford City Council who is prepared to field all complaints from residents about unacceptable noise levels from construction work, which is particularly relevant for those living in Latimer Road.

The correct advice is for all complainants to report this to:

noise@oxford.gov.uk

We are aware that the works on the Winvic Beech Road site are rushing for completion, but we need to ensure the noise levels of works are acceptable

 Unfortunately the Out of Hours service for noise doesn’t cover Sunday daytime, it primarily being a late night/early morning service – details are here: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20058/noise_pollution/145/report_a_noise_complaint/2

Overall, the responsibility for regulating commercial noise comes under the Business Regulation Team and that includes noise from construction sites. There are 2 main powers – noise nuisance legislation and Section 60 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974. These may be used where the construction activity is assessed to be having an unacceptable impact on residents and where best practice is not being applied. In addition good construction companies usually approach BRT to obtain a noise consent (Section 61 of the CPA74) if they have the need to do noisy work outside “normal” hours (see web pages here:

https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20058/noise_pollution/149/noise_control_advice_-_construction_sites

 

Construction and Traffic Management Plan for the Barracks development

At East Area Planning Committee, Ruth requested that members are alerted when the Construction and Traffic Management Plan and the Student Management Plan are received by planning officers.

The CTMP has now been received and you can find it here

Please note, it is not agreed or signed off by the planning officer yet.

 

 

Latest information on Access to Headington phases in Headley Way and Windmill Road

We have gathered the following information  from discussions today with the County Cabinet Member and the project lead for A2H.

We understand that:

  • there is a shortfall regarding predicted cost of these phases and the cost quoted by Skanska
  • this means that the local Growth Board is being asked for more money at its next closed meeting on 1st February
  • it is possible that some of the elements of the Access to Headington scheme may have to be de-scoped (this means that they won’t be funded from the existing pot and will be dependent on funding from elsewhere if they happen at all).
  • at present, the Osler Road pedestrian crossing point has already been de-scoped but Skanska has been asked for a separate quote for this which is expected in March. We have asked for this to be included back in scope because we think it would be a major improvement for pedestrians, and had been hoping that it could be funded from money left over from the abandonment of other works near the ring road)
  • it appears that the 20 MPH limit for Windmill Road is separately funded so should go ahead, even if the alterations to Windmill Road are pared back or de-scoped
  • the County Council does not have to hold a statutory public consultation should any changes to the Access to Headington works be deemed necessary but the officer’s view is that there is a moral obligation for the County Council to consult residents once the options are agreed.
  • we asked for the A2H website to be updated, and this has now been done

 

We have informed the County Council that the condition of the JR roundabout is deteriorating and have asked this to be safety checked.

There is no correlation between any national media stories about Skanska and the quote for these works.

Press release re A2H delay

We have been sent the following press release from the County Council.

The start of the next phase of the Access to Headington transport improvement project has been postponed.

Work had been due to start on Headley Way on 22 January along the length of Headley Way including the junction works outside the John Radcliffe hospital and on the Marsh Lane junction.

However concerns over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This means that the team are now looking at other sources of funding along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

However the need for more certainty over costs, utility diversions and technical issues relating to the hill section between Marsh Lane and the hospital, mean that the construction team have decided to put the start on hold. This has also provided an opportunity to seek additional sources of funding to include improvements that had previously been unaffordable along with ways to reduce costs so that the improvement work goes ahead.

It is hoped that a new date for the work to start can be decided in the coming weeks.

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “We are still committed to delivering the scheme and some facilitating work will continue at weekends so that we are ready

“This is a challenging and much needed piece of work and it makes sense to look again at the costs and designs to ensure that it can be delivered on budget. We had hoped to resolve this without needing to pause the scheme but require more time to reach a conclusion.”

Work on The Slade is programmed to finish in February providing a new off-carriageway facility for cyclists as well as improved crossings. Once complete known issues such as parking obstructing the path will see enforcement action taking place.

The new junction on Gypsy Lane, completed early 2017, is working well and we will continue monitoring of that over the duration of the Access to Headington programme. The latest work undertaken on Old Road/Churchill Drive and Churchill Drive/Roosevelt Drive is now complete and working well providing improved access for the Churchill Hospital site.

Bright New Year for Headington

Here is a reprint of the piece Ruth wrote for last week’s Oxford Times (p77) in case you missed it!

2018 is going to be an exciting year for Headington. But with some traffic chaos thrown in, so no changes there!

Bad news first. There will be roadworks practically all year starting January, in the Headley Way area for 36 weeks, then in Windmill Road, as part of Access to Headington improvements. Let’s hope the outcome is worthwhile. I’m still pushing for the pedestrian crossing point across London Road from Osler Road if money allows.

But what great community projects are opening up following the success of the Neighbourhood Plan referendum result! This has released community infrastructure levy contribution for Headington, and we’ve identified unspent developer money too.

Working together with Headington Action and residents’ groups, there are a number of new initiatives about to kick off.

Chief among these are projects to promote Headington’s character and identity. Headington’s not just a main road to use between Oxford and London, we have culture and heritage and technological achievements we are proud of.

We are currently looking to introduce audio-benches and audio-posts in Bury Knowle Park and through the centre that tell Headington’s story – its people, its history, its achievements. Another venture is to provide a central wifi hotspot where people can access and download information about Headington to their smartphones using a QR code – this could help people use walking trails or get information on local shops and amenities.

Our biggest tourist attractions are Bury Knowle Park and the Shark. We’re looking to put in a new circular seat near the flagpole with an audio-post explaining the history and amenities of the Park and the House. And a group of residents are keen to get the Shark listed, so that it has some protection in planning terms. Like it or loathe it, the Shark brings visitors to Headington and boosts local trade, so it makes good economic sense to look after it. It’s an internationally renowned icon and it continues to delight generation after generation. Let’s celebrate its quirkiness!

Headington Action already runs amazingly successful events like its Headington Market, and plans for next year’s Headington Festival are already well under way.

The LED lighting in Headington centre’s trees is a great start to brightening up the centre. There is also a greening project in preparation that will encourage folk to plant bee, bird and insect-friendly plants in public and private spaces.

There’s a project looking at bringing together all local groups who provide activities for those in our area who feel isolated or lonely, and finding out how these can be supported more effectively all year round.

The Neighbourhood Forum has called on the City Council to undertake a governance review that will take twelve months. One potential outcome might be that Headington could get its own Community Council, with more powers devolved to local community councillors. This would encourage even more people to get involved in community action. Exciting times!

For many, the biggest worry is the lack of affordable homes. Headington’s staggering economic growth brings challenges: hospitals and care homes fight to retain staff because low-paid public and private sector workers can’t afford local rents. Workers have to commute in, and this impacts on congestion and air quality.

More keyworker housing is needed, and quickly – particularly for young families. We need innovative housing schemes for those trying hard to save up for a deposit on a home. The publication of the Masterplan for the hospital sites could be a long-term game-changer if it incorporates more homes and deals with its parking problems.

2018 brings many challenges and opportunities for Headington. There is much to look forward to!

 

Ruth Wilkinson, Lib Dem Councillor for Headington Ward