Council wins £12.9m for highway drainage and street-lighting improvements

The council is one of 31 across the country to receive grant funding from the Department for Transport’s £275m Challenge Fund – which was set up for councils to bid for one-off major infrastructure schemes.

As part of the bidding process the council had to guarantee £1.6m of funding from its own budgets – taking the total spending to £14.5m

Some of the money will be spent on reviewing and replacing Oxfordshire’s older street-lighting with more modern streetlights between 2015 and 2018.

Highway drainage will also be improved in various parts of the county – which will in turn make road surfaces more resilient to poor weather and potentially lead to savings. Road edges will be strengthened where necessary.

The council will also use the money to install Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs) systems that allow water to drain away from roads more quickly.

An example of SUDs is the use of swales – which have already been installed in some new developments in the county. Swales are shallow drainage channels with gentle side slopes in the ground where water running off sites, including roads, can collect and soak away.

The council will now further develop a programme of work in line with its recently reviewed Highways Asset Management Plan.

Welcome news

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This is very welcome news. We have until 2018 to spend the money awarded and I look forward to more modern street-lighting and improved highway drainage in various parts of Oxfordshire.

“Investment in these areas has the potential to save us money in the longer term both on energy via more modern and efficient street-lighting and highway maintenance as a result of roads that are more resilient to the impacts of bad weather.”

The council had also bid for finance to improve the resilience of Playhatch Road in Playhatch -  including flood modelling, flood elevation structures, embankment work and drainage improvements. This element of the bid was not successful and the council will now consider future options for taking this work forward.