Access to Headington proposals: response from Roz, Altaf and Ruth

The response from Headington Lib Dem councillors to the County’s proposals are now published.

Our response is in three parts:

Comments on the proposals: click on  Headington Lib Dem councillors response to Access to Headington consultation 150807

Appendix giving additional comments received from residents: click on Appendix 150807

Comments on the consultation process: click on Headington Lib Dem councillors concerns re consultation process 150807

Here is the executive summary:

The Access to Headington consultation was not fit for purpose.  There was little context or factual data to inform the decision-making of residents, many of whom were not made aware of the proposals until late in the day. (see separate document on the consultation)

We believe that these proposals do not achieve their objective to support health and well-being, and reduce transport’s environmental impact.

Transport congestion in Headington is most acute for approximately 4 hours a day, five days a week during term-times.  These proposals will significantly affect Headington residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. Impact on residents is disproportionate.

The proposals focus on incoming commuter traffic from outside Headington, but do not take local context and local traffic needs of the whole community sufficiently into account.

We oppose the removal of an as yet unspecified number of trees and verges proposed by the County Council, (see general comments, section 3).

We believe that better alternative proposals for road layout and cycle improvements can be made that are more environmental sustainable, and list some ideas proposed by local residents (see projects).

We do not believe the current proposals for cycling improvements give sufficient priority for the safety of cyclists at junctions. We believe that, where possible, cycle routes should be segregated e.g. adjacent to Marston Road. If carriage width allows, we believe that mandatory cycle lanes should be accommodated, but not at the expense of the loss of trees (see general comments, section 6)

We oppose the proposals to remove on-street parking for reasons stated (see general comments, section 4).

We have concerns about the scheme’s impact on access to parking and/or frontages for disabled residents on Cherwell Drive, Headley Way and Windmill Road where existing on-street parking including disabled spaces could be removed, and this raises equalities concerns. (see section 1, area 2)

We believe that greater priority should be given to pedestrians in the next round of proposals. (general comments, section 5)

We believe these proposals will have little or no impact on modal shift by those who work in Headington.

We have sent these comments to County Cllrs Ian Hudspeth and David Nimmo-Smith, and to the County Transport Planning team.

New proposals to improve access to Headington’s employment sites

The County Council’s Access to Headington proposals can be viewed here.

We strongly urge residents to view these plans as they will impact significantly across the Headington area.

Headington is an area of significant job growth, and it also hosts many hospitals. The Government’s Local Growth Fund has allocated £8.2m for improvements in access to major employment sites in Headington, and there is an extra pot of developer money which can be used for this purpose.

Changes are proposed from the bottom of Headley Way, along London Road, along Windmill Road and the Slade, and also in Osler Road and Old Road. These include a redesigned crossroads in the centre of Headington with a pedestrian crossing which can be used diagonally. There are also changes and new junctions in and around the entrances to the JR and the Churchill sites.

In order to widen roads enough to make improvements to cycle lanes, planners are proposing to reclaim some verges and trees, and remove on-street parking from Headley Way, Windmill Road and the Slade. There are no indications within the current proposals where residents affected by this change will park their cars.

Headington Lib Dem councillors invite comments from our residents about the proposed scheme. We shall send in comments based on the views we receive.

Our initial thoughts are:

  • The potential removal of green verges and trees is contrary to the emerging Green Space policy in the draft Headington Neighbourhood Plan and  insufficient weighting has been given to green space and trees in the proposals (no indication of where these can be substituted elsewhere in Headington)
  • Will the removal of on-street parking make it easier for traffic to exceed the speed limit more often in Windmill Road  and Headley Way? (already an issue)
  • Where will residents affected by the removal of on-street spaces park their cars?
  • Which disabled parking spaces will be affected and how can the County Council help those residents?
  • Will the reduction of verges and widening of Osler Road lead to an increase in buses in this residential road?

We are currently discussing various issues with Tree Officers at both City and County, and are initiating discussion with Oxford Unlimited, a group concerned with transport issues for those with mobility challenges.

At the initial briefing, we flagged up the following suggestions:

the possibility of introducing pedestrian crossings of some sort in:

  • Windmill Road (between Langley Close and Bateman Street) to aid access to schools, improve pedestrian access, and create a break in the traffic to mitigate possible speeding
  • Headley Way (near the junction with London Road) to aid access to schools and Brookes, and improve safety as there have been near misses due to jaywalking here. The crossing lights could link into the junction lights

the possibility that ‘countdown’ crossing lights can be installed in the centre of Headington

that local construction companies and tradespeople should be contracted to do the work wherever possible

We have only just seen the plans, and will look forward to a wider public discussion before we send in comments in full. There are some very positive proposals too which we welcome, but for now we are concentrating on negotiating with the County Council over alternative options to address some of the above issues.

Contact details for the consultation:

Name Access to Headington Transport Proposals
Description The county council is developing plans to improve access across Headington and at major employment sites
Dates From 3 Jul 2015 at 00:00 to 7 Aug 2015 at 23:59.
Status Open
Contact Name Ian Williams
Contact Email Address
Contact Phone Number 01865 815548
Contact Postal Address Access to Headington Project,
Infrastructure Development Oxfordshire County Council,
Speedwell House (3rd Floor),
Speedwell Street,

Exhibitions will also be held as follows, where you will be able to view plans and discuss proposals with officers:

  • Friday 3rd July, 13:00 – 20.00

St Anthony’s of Padua, 115 Headley Way, Oxford

  • Saturday 4th July, 10:00 – 16:00

New Marston Primary School, Copse Lane, Oxford

  • Thursday 9th July, 13:00 – 20:00 

Wood Farm School, Titup Hall Drive, Oxford

  • Saturday 11th July, 10:00 – 16:00

St. Andrew’s Primary School, London Road, Oxford



The trees on the Botnar boundary

Bedroom 1


Ruth met the Council’s Tree Office for a site visit in Cecil Sharp Place last week prior to his meeting with the University about the maintenance and management of trees on their boundary.

The officer tells us that the University agreed the following:

  1. To reduce the height and spread of conifer trees along the boundary with Cecil Sharp Place to address the complaints from residents in the short term. An elder tree near the northern end which over hangs the garden of no.s 1-4 will be removed completely at the same time. The OU Parks Superintendent is going to put together a specification for these works and send it to the City Council for approval under the conditions of planning permission for the Botnar building. When approval is given the work will be carried out.

  2. To prepare a plan for removing and replacing the conifer trees along the boundary with Cecil Sharp Place in the longer term. The plan will be to remove the existing conifers and replace them with a mix of holly, yew, birch and scots pine trees planted further from the boundary fence to replace the screening in a way which is less of a problem for residents and easier to manage by the University. The University will actively consult with residents on the proposals;

  3. To continue managing the conifers along the boundary with properties in Wilberforce Street at their existing height. The trees were reduced in height last year and this work will be carried out every 3-5 years as necessary.


The scope for the pruning work in 1. above is quite limited; these trees don’t have dormant buds underneath the bark and so unlike broadleaved trees will not produce new growth if they are cut back beyond the green foliage. To avoid creating an ugly brown face to the trees for residents it will not be possible to prune back to the boundary.

It was confirmed that trees further east along the boundary with Mattock Close properties are not within the Botnar site and responsibility. We are contacting the NOC separately about works to those.



Botnar trees: impact on neighbouring residents

Bedroom 1

The Botnar trees on the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre’s site boundary have not been trimmed back for some time, and we have been pressing for this to be carried out.

Management of the trees has passed to the University of Oxford. The University wants to consider replanting its boundary and is keen to consult residents about all alternative options.

We were advised that a consultation meeting would take place with residents in December, but this has been delayed pending confirmation that there is no extant condition attached to the original permission which specifies the species of trees that would be acceptable. If that’s the case, a fresh planning application varying conditions would need to be made and there would be further delay. We have put the University and Botnar manager in touch with the City Council’s Tree Officer whose advice is that they can go ahead and consider all options with residents, and we are pushing for an early consultation otherwise we shall be into bird nesting time again. We’ll keep you posted.

Tree Warden Scheme launches in Oxford

With over 90,000 trees to look after Oxford City Council is looking to recruiting Tree Wardens; volunteers who will be our eyes, ears and hands for trees.

As a Tree Warden you can gather information about your local trees, get involved in local tree matters and encourage local practical projects related to the trees and woods.

The Tree Warden Scheme is a national initiative to enable people to play an active role in conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods. The scheme was founded and is coordinated by The Tree Council.


Each Tree Warden will be provided with a handbook, training, covering surveying woodland and non-woodland trees, summer and winter tree identification, tree planting and aftercare, woodland ecology and management, seed collection and tree law.

If you would like to sign up, or would like to find our more contact the Parks & Open Spaces team on 01865 252240, or email

Tree root problems in Bickerton Road

Trees are a feature in our most attractive residential roads but the problems of root heave often make pavements bumpy and uneven, and sometimes unsafe.

You have been contacting us about the root heave problems in Bickerton and Stapleton Roads since the end of last year. Tarmacking over the top doesn’t always do the job.

Officers from two council departments have recently agreed to come out and assess the problem near the Old Road end of Bickerton Road. They agree that the footpaths need to be excavated to undertake a full repair, and then the tree officer will try to prune the roots if this is possible or at worst fell the tree and replace it along with root barriers to encourage it to root more deeply. This procedure isn’t carried out very often as it costs so much, so we are fortunate that this has been scheduled following our persistent reporting.


Ash die-back

National scientific advice is that it won’t be possible to eradicate this disease now that we have discovered it in mature trees in Great Britain. However, that does not necessarily mean the end of the British ash. If we can slow its spread and minimise its impact, we will gain time to find those trees with genetic resistance to the disease and to restructure our woodlands to make them more resilient.

Details of the national plan of action are available here.

Oxford City Council is following the Defra advice and closely monitoring the spread of this disease. It is continuing to monitor the City’s stock, which consists of approximately 10% ash, and discussions have already taken place with green space partners in the city. 

Dangerous tree branch brought to ground

Photo: SB

The City Council’s Tree Officer responded very quickly to our request about a dangerous tree branch today. The branch had broken off but had remained caught up in other branches and was hanging precariously over the public footpath in Cuckoo Lane.

He contacted the agents for the owner of the property and the branch was brought to ground by 4.30 this afternoon

Overhanging trees and hedges – how to report them

At yesterday’s Ward Focus Meeting, you asked us who to contact about overhanging vegetation from private property onto footpaths. Here is the procedure, and please do copy us into emails as we want to track how big a problem this is!

The County Council are responsible for taking enforcement action associated with overgrown trees, bushes and general vegetation on the public highway in accordance with the following process:-

  • Contact the County Council via 0845 3101111 or to report the specific location
  • The Local Highway Representative (LHR) in the City, will visit and inspect the location and if he agrees that the overgrown vegetation is causing a problem he will make contact with the resident and deliver a copy of the leaflet Your hedge Your responsibility
  • The LHR will monitor the location to ensure that action has been taken in accordance with the advice issued on the first visit.
  • If action isn’t taken within the required timescale the County Council can undertake the work to rectify the situation and charge the resident/land owner for the costs incurred.
  • If the resident fails to comply the LHR will issue an enforcement notice detailing the specific timescale