Broad appeal for historic Oxford road

One of Oxford’s most historic streets is in the spotlight thanks to some award-winning, heritage-preserving road works.

The combined efforts of the University of Oxford, Oxford City Council and the county council to make life easier for Oxford’s pedestrians, cyclists and drivers were rewarded earlier this month, as improvement works to Broad Street junction won a prestigious Landscape & Public Realm award at the 41st Oxford Preservation Trust Awards.

The redesign of the junction that separates Broad Street, Parks Road, Holywell Street and Catte Street was completed in September 2017, and has seen traffic lights removed and replaced with a simple ‘informal’ roundabout – similar to the award-winning work at Frideswide Square.

Less than the cost of new traffic lights

The junction had previously been dominated by an out of date traffic signal system, which road users in the city bemoaned for adding unnecessary time to their journeys.

In fact, it was only when the traffic signals failed in the summer of 2016 that a more informal redesign of the area was considered. And when the final sums were done, the entire cost of the scheme was less than the price of replacing damaged traffic lights.

“Much better for everyone”

At the same time as achieving clear benefits to drivers, the simple, uncluttered design has resulted in significant aesthetic improvements to the historic surroundings.

Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT), Debbie Dance, said: “OPT has long been involved in wanting to see improvements in Broad Street, and were delighted to recognise the work. It was good to hear of the strong partnership who together have created a new road layout which is more practical and safe to use, reduces clutter and enhances the view down Broad Street.”

The junction has also made life easier for those choosing greener ways to travel through the city. Previously, cyclists would often have to wait unnecessarily at red lights, and there was no specific provision for pedestrians wanting to cross the road. The new junction makes walking and cycling much easier and delays have been almost eliminated for all road users.

News of the award delighted the county council’s Director for Planning and Place, Sue Halliwell, who expressed her personal dissatisfaction of the previous road layout and satisfaction of the joined-up approach to getting this work done: “I used to cycle through Broad Street when I first started working in Oxford, and lost count of the amount of times I got stuck waiting at the lights. This new layout is much better for everyone and I’m pleased with how the simple design compliments the historic surroundings.

“As well as the award, we’ve had some great feedback from residents about this junction – long may it continue.”

Adrian Arnold, Acting Head of Planning Services at Oxford City Council, said:

“This is an example of successful partnership working that has resulted in a well-designed junction that respects the historic environment as well as being much safer for all users. I want to thank the Oxford Preservation Trust for recognising this with this Landscape and Public Realm Award.”

Nick Brown, Chair of the Buildings and Estates Sub-committee, University of Oxford said:

"The Broad Street junction is a key gateway to the University's Science area and the Clarendon Building and Weston Library fronting it are major attractions in their own right.

“The University used its Green Travel Fund (generated from parking income paid by University staff) to support this substantial improvement to the safety and convenience of walking and cycling for the University community, local people and visitors, whilst also creating a more attractive street scene in keeping with this historic part of Oxford."