Consultation on proposals for Oxford city centre including Queen Street

A consultation on plans to make changes to key streets in Oxford city centre will open on Thursday, May 25, with members of the public being given an opportunity to have their say.

Oxfordshire County Council has been working on proposals that aim to ensure that the city’s transport infrastructure can deal with the demands placed on it by future developments.

Permanent and experimental proposals

The consultation covers two themes:

  • Improvements to city centre junctions and bus stops, and new arrangements for loading in St Aldates and High Street
  • An experimental 18-month closure of Queen Street to buses, taxis and private hire vehicles

People taking part can see details of how the county council plans to provide more capacity for future growth in city centre bus, cycle and walking trips. The proposals are designed to improve bus journey times, safety and air quality by reducing bus queuing and improving pedestrian and cycle facilities at junctions.

Experiment to test closure

The experimental element is designed to test a closure of Queen Street to buses, taxis and private hire vehicles to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Amongst the things people can find out more about are:

  • Buses no longer using Queen Street as a through-route

  • Changes to the George Street/Worcester St junction

  • New zebra crossings on Park End Street, New Road and Worcester Street

  • A new zebra crossing on Speedwell Street and St Aldates

  • Additional bus stop and layover facilities on Hythe Bridge, Park End Street, High Street, St Aldates, Butterwyke Place and Thames Street/Old Greyfriars Street

  • Amendments to loading and taxi bays on High Street

  • New ‘no loading, waiting and stopping’ restrictions on High Street and St Aldates.

The consultation allows people to see what is being proposed and respond with their views before the county council’s Cabinet makes a decision in July.

Investment and growth in Oxford

Susan Halliwell, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Planning and Place, said: “Investment and growth in Oxford means more people coming to the city and using the roads. The things we are proposing are designed to improve capacity and safety.

“The investment is something we are looking forward to – the opening of the new Westgate centre is a high-profile scheme that will attract people from around the world, and there are other things on the horizon such as the development of Oxpens and the train station that reflect the status of Oxford as a growing city.

“Making changes to safely accommodate extra visitors has been under discussion for a long time and we think what we are proposing strikes a good balance.

“We recognise that the bus companies had concerns over what was included in the 2016 proposals and so we have made revisions taking into account what they said and we will remain in discussion with them throughout this process.

“While the permanent measures will stay, the experimental order for Queen Street is just that – it would be a test of how it works in practice and the opportunity for people to have a say extends for six months into its operation.

“We want people to look at the consultation information and give us their views.”

Working with partners

Tim Sadler, Oxford City Council’s Executive Director of Sustainable City, said: “Oxford City Council strongly supports the proposals for Queen Street being introduced in time for the Westgate centre opening in October. We look forward to helping make sure that this experimental closure happens, and continuing to work with all partners to monitor its success.”

Regular dialogue

Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company, said: “We have a strong relationship with the county council and we have been in regular dialogue with council officers about all of these issues. That dialogue will continue into the forthcoming consultation period and we look forward to making our own observations.”

Stagecoach Oxfordshire Managing Director Martin Sutton added: "We are continuing to work with Oxfordshire County Council regarding the issues and challenges. We are keen to arrive at a solution that will deliver the most suitable arrangements for our passengers in Oxford."

See the proposals online or in person

The consultation opens on 25 May and closes on 23 June. It can be viewed online at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consultation or in person at County Hall, New Road, Oxford OX1 1ND, between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.