Howes Lane (A4095) is the road which runs from Witney to Bicester. In Bicester it crosses the Middleton Stoney Road and runs along the
current northern edge of Bicester under the 'Ten-Ten' bridge to the gates of former RAF Bicester (Bicester Heritage). Click here
for an overview of the area.
As part of the NWBicester development to build up to 6,000 new homes, the council and developers have jointly agreed to redesign the existing road and move it away from the current alignment. This is due to the angle of the '10 10' railway bridge at the top of Bucknell Road. As a consequence, a new railway bridge must be built slightly further north of the current position and hence the road will be realigned.
The current road mostly has a 50mph speed limit and is straight without obstruction connecting efficiently to the new 'Vendee Drive', again 50mph limit. This connects elegantly onto the A41 and allows thousands of vehicles especially from Bure Park, Southwold, Caversfield and Bucknell to effortlessly avoid central Bicester en-route to the M40.
Everything seems reasonable so far? Prepare to be shocked.
The new road is going to have just a 30mph speed limit, contain 5/6 sets of traffic lights and only allow access in one direction for traffic exiting Shakespeare Drive, we are unsure which direction this will be in.
BicesterTAG has obtained plans for the new Howes Lane and superimposed the present road layout onto them. In the images below, the left hand shows the current layout and in the right hand version it has been faded to better show the plans for NWBicester. By clicking on each map will display a larger version.
After 2020 Redesign
It does not take long after reading the material the NWBicester developers are providing to very quickly realise that the people who are coming up with the ideas have absolutely no understanding of the town of Bicester or the surrounding villages. The image below of 'Proposed Vehicular Access' taken from this publication suggests that up to 12,000 cars (6,000 new households each with approximately two cars) can use the Banbury Road and Bucknell Road as the primary means to access town.
Anyone who has bothered to visit Bicester will know that Bucknell Road, especially nearer town has residents (legitimate) on street parking, a primary school and a junction on to a already busy
Queens Avenue further hamstrung by a zebra crossing and mini-roundabout.
We could give this reason for it not to work, or that reason but at the end of the day the whole proposal is barmy. NWBicester needs a dedicated, semi fast (e.g. 50mph) extension to Vendee Drive to form a northern 'ring road' for Bicester. A 30mph, 5/6 sets of traffic lights 'Urban Boulevard' is non-workable and laughable.
NWBicester appear to have imported the term 'Urban Boulevard' from the midwest US where the term is in common usage. In that context it usually means a road that is 'wide and tree
BicesterTAG met with Bicester's three Oxfordshire County Councillors; Sibley, Stratford and Waine on Thursday 26th February 2015.
Les Sibley (Ind)
Division: Bicester West
Lawrie Stratford (Con)
Division: Bicester North
Micheal Waine (Con)
Division: Bicester Town
BicesterTAG raised a number of traffic related issues with our councillors. To be fair, all three gentlemen were well aware of all of the issues. On the subject of Howes Lane they had even secured the front page of the Bicester Advertiser a few weeks previously explaining their concerns about Oxfordshire County Council's Howes Lane proposals.
The shocking thing is, that instead of protesting against the plans, their strategy is to do nothing and hope, yes hope that Oxfordshire County Council do not install all six sets of traffic lights. Not even a mention of the 30mph speed limit.
Now just in case you have fallen off your chair with shock. You did read the last paragraph correctly. Their solution is to do nothing.
These three gentlemen collectively claimed £31,335.32 (source) in total
for the year 2013/14 from Oxfordshire County Council of which one of them claimed £13,809.66 (44% of the total). Obviously dissatisfied with these allowances, in December 2014 Oxfordshire
County Councillors voted themselves a 19% pay rise (source).
Now call us old fashioned when it comes to politicians but when someone is happy to pick up the paycheck we expect them to do more than actively pursue a 'do nothing' strategy. Feel free to email them individually.