Proposals for the A4095 NW Strategic Link Road

Application Reference: 14/01968/F

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What the application aims to achieve

The vision for the A4095 Strategic Link Road set out by A2Dominion and Policy Bicester 1 of the Cherwell Local Plan is to provide an improved and effective transport route that enables an exciting new destination for Bicester while remaining an integral part of the existing town’s transport infrastructure.

The proposals for the new NW A4095 Strategic Link Road, which meet County Council policy requirements and is contained within the local plan, seek to ensure that NW Bicester has a strong connection with the town while also delivering local transport benefits, including:

  • Increased capacity and improved efficiency of the road by removing the constraint of the railway bridge
  • Delivering a high quality, effective and safe sustainable transport network designed for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike
  • Connectivity with the existing town and good permeability ensuring existing and new residents can access the new services and facilities easily and safely
  • A link road designed as an attractive, tree lined boulevard offering a mix of uses and facilities including: education, leisure and retail enabling a new destination for Bicester

The proposals, which involve the realignment of Howes Lane would create a new, Strategic Link Road that has the ability to accommodate the expected volumes of traffic associated with the growth of the wider town and provide an attractive environment for its users.

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What’s actually planned?

These proposals include:

A. Construction of a new road from Middleton Stoney Road roundabout to join Lords Lane east of Purslane Drive

B. Construction of a new crossing under the existing railway line north of the existing Avonbury Business Park

C. A bus only link east of the railway line

D. A new road around Hawkwell Farm to join Bucknell Road together with the retention of part of the existing Howes Lane and Lords Lane to provide access to and from existing residential areas and Bucknell Road to the south

E. A one way route northbound from Shakespeare Drive where it joins the existing Howes Lane with a priority junction

F. A wider single carriageway for the realigned Howes Lane itself with mixed uses and character coupled with a reduced 30mph speed limit

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What would these changes deliver?

These proposals would deliver a series of demonstrable environmental and physical benefits, including:

  1. Creation of increased junction capacity
    • A new railway underpass will be provided, which will by- pass the existing Howes Lane and Lords Lane junctions and provide an improved route under the railway
    • The roundabout junction at Howes Lane and Middleton Stoney Road is planned to be reconfigured to accommodate the change in the Howes Lane alignment
    • Improved junctions along the Link Road are planned to have two lanes on each approach to give sufficient capacity for vehicles to turn left and right and manage the flow of traffic
    • It is proposed that the traffic signalised junctions would be linked using an intelligent led system to optimise the capacity of all the junctions
    • The existing junction of Howes Lane and Bucknell Road is planned to remain as a priority junction as traffic flows will reduce
  2. Reduction in traffic constraints through the creation of a better aligned route
    The Strategic Link Road is proposed to be full carriageway width (7.3 metres), with a segregated cycleway (4.5 metres) and footway (2 metres) on one side, and a shared cycle/footway (4.5 meters) on the other side. The route incorporates green verges, trees and swales bringing the total road width to 26 metres.
    The realigned route between the Banbury Road to Middleton Stoney Road roundabouts would be 115 metres longer in distance. With an allowance for stopping at junctions, this would theoretically add approximately
    13 seconds to the average journey.
    Even without NW Bicester, it is forecast that the existing Howes Lane / Bucknell Road junction will be significantly over capacity in 2031 with queues of more than 300 vehicles and an average delay of 11.5 minutes per vehicle in the evening peak hour.
  3. Delivering safe and improved access arrangements
    The Strategic Link Road meets and is an improvement on the standards for a local distributor road with generous segregated provision for pedestrians and cyclists on both sides, providing safe routes with minimal conflict. There would be signalised crossings of the route at each of the junctions along the new Link Road.
  4. Creating good connectivity and access to amenities
    It will link in with the town’s existing cycle and pedestrian network to encourage more cyclists to use these routes including families and children. It is purposefully designed to encourage connectivity between NW Bicester and the existing town.
    The Strategic Link Road will incorporate points of interest by connecting the existing town with local amenities at NW Bicester such as a secondary school, shops, café and GP practice. This will form a unique urban boulevard feel helping to create a sense of place for NW Bicester.
  5. Supporting sustainable travel
    There is a comprehensive network of high standard walking and cycling routes, linking into the town’s existing network enabling alternative travel options, a 15 minute bus service accessible to all residents on the NW side of town, real time travel to every home at NW Bicester, a car club, electric vehicle incentives and charging network and a full range of promotional measures to encourage people to adopt sustainable modes of travel.

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Application Q & A

The below section seeks to address a number of the items which the team understands have been raised to date.

Q. How would the proposed NW Strategic Link Road impact on the wider local road network in terms of traffic flow and movements?

A. The scheme forms part of a package of overall improvements by the County Council including upgrading the eastern peripheral route and the introduction of measures in the town centre to discourage through traffic. Measures are also proposed as part of A2Dominions outline planning applications for the developments in the vicinity to discourage traffic from routeing through Bucknell, Caversfield and the Shakespeare Drive area.

The A4095 Strategic Link Road would continue to be a part of the perimeter route and be better able to accommodate future traffic following the implementation of the proposals than the existing arrangements.

Q. When is it envisaged that these proposals would be implemented and completed?

A. The new road would be delivered early-on within the development of NW Bicester as it provides a much needed town wide function as a link road and an important corridor for the future provision of infrastructure services to support the development; such as foul and surface water drainage, potable water supply, electricity cables, district heat network and telecommunications.

Q. Why has a 30mph speed limit been proposed along this route?

A. The 30mph speed limit would allow for a safe and comfortable driver, pedestrian and cycling environment to be created and would reduce the barrier with the rest of the town.
The normal design speed for this type of road with OCC is 50 kph (30mph) and this has been used in the submitted design.
Whilst the submitted scheme is designed for a speed limit of 30 mph, this could be increased to 40 mph if required without a change to the design, should this be required in the future (whilst recognising that it would negatively impact on connectivity between NW Bicester and
the town).