Highway improvements for Didcot and West Oxfordshire move a step closer

Two key agreements that will bring millions of pounds worth of highways improvements to the Didcot area and the A40 through West Oxfordshire have progressed further this week after being considered by the county councils’ cabinet.

The investments will enable the development of essential transport links to make sure sustainable infrastructure is built where it is needed to support the development of much needed new homes and jobs in Oxfordshire.

In a development covering the Didcot Garden Town Housing Infrastructure Fund programme or HIF1, the Cabinet took a key decision to accept the preferred alignment of the routes of the four parts of the scheme put forward by its officers.

A sum of £218m from government agency Homes England (HE) (towards infrastructure costs of £234m) will deliver:

  • Widening the A4130 from A34 Milton Interchange towards Didcot from single to dual carriageway;
  • A new Science Bridge over the A4130, Great Western Railway Line and Milton Road into the former Didcot A Power Station site;
  • A new Didcot to Culham bridge between the A4130 and A415 including a new crossing of the River Thames River; and
  • A Clifton Hampden bypass

In doing so, the council will also consider the views of local people who submitted views over two consultations to hear residents’ views on plans to support sustainable growth around Didcot. These were held in late 2018 and a second round in March-April this year which yielded almost 700 responses.

In the case of the Housing Infrastructure 2 (HIF 2) scheme, the cabinet agreement means that the council will move ahead with the three parts of the HIF 2 scheme to access Homes England funding agreed in November 2019 worth £102 million to develop:

  • An extension of the A40 dual carriageway from Witney to the proposed Eynsham park and ride, including improving cycling infrastructure along the route.
  • An extension of the A40 westbound bus lane from west of Duke’s Cut canal and railway bridges close Oxford near to the proposed Eynsham park and ride.
  • A40 capacity and connectivity improvements to widen access at Duke’s Cut canal and railway bridges, extending the eastbound and westbound bus priority lane, prioritising bus rapid transit at this pinch point.

In both HIF schemes, the priority is the development of additional highway space, connectivity and infrastructure to encourage more sustainable forms of travel to meet the council’s zero carbon transport network ambitions such as public transport, walking and cycling connectivity. It will also support the delivery of wider health and place-shaping benefits in line with the council’s core policy objectives.

The Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council Cllr Judith Heathcoat said:

“Oxfordshire County Council recognises an urgent need for new homes for its people and that these homes require us to get the right infrastructure in to support them first. We are committed to working with our communities to develop the right infrastructure in the right places to allow them to grow in a sustainable way.

Indeed, sustainability is at the very heart of what we intend to develop for the Didcot Garden Town area. A great boost to the work has now advanced with the award of £218m from homes England in June to allow us to work to get the infrastructure right.”