Frequently asked questions (FAQs) - Watlington Relief Road
What is the purpose of the relief road?
The Watlington Relief Road project aims to provide an alternative route and direct access to the B4009 either side of Watlington without the need to travel through the town itself. It will connect the western side of Watlington on the B4009, looping northwards and connecting back to the B4009 on the eastern side of the town.
Its aim is to alleviate congestion, noise and air pollution in the town centre and enable future housing developments in the vicinity of Watlington by offering more sustainable modes of transport including public transport, cycling and walking.
A corridor for the relief road was previously identified and adopted in the Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan in 2018. It was also designated as a ‘safeguarded route’ in the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035, in 2020.
Public consultation about the Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan, which would have included the need for the road itself, took place in 2018. In addition, as part of the assessment of the South Oxfordshire Local Plan, viability of the Watlington Relief Road was examined by inspectors appointed by the Secretary of State. The examination hearings were held between 14 July 2020 and 7 August 2020.
Why do we need more houses in Watlington?
Four land parcels on the edge of Watlington have been identified in the Watlington Neighbourhood Development Plan for residential development. The South Oxfordshire District Local Plan 2034 commits to delivering South Oxfordshire’s housing need (23,000 homes in the period 2011-2034). The Watlington Relief Road will accommodate the traffic associated with these developments and will reduce traffic, congestion and journey times in the centre of Watlington. The housing developments and the relief road will support economic growth in the wider area, providing new jobs for new and existing residents in Watlington and beyond.
How will the relief road serve access to Icknield Community College?
The Watlington Relief Road proposal includes plans to create a new coach drop off area for Icknield Community College. The design will provide kerbside access space for 4 coaches with stacking space for an additional 4 coaches, which is the equivalent size of the existing parking/ drop off provision currently used by the College. A pedestrian route, from the loop into the college, will be created. The loop provides extra capacity for the college coaches to drop off and pick up students, accommodating growth of the college.
As, this is subject to further detailing, consultation and agreement with the College, the final layout is likely to change.
What will the proposed speed limits be on the new road?
As the relief road will provide access to several new residential developments, the design will propose an operational speed limit of 30 mph along length of the relief road.
There is a separate consultation underway for future 20mph zones in Watlington.
Will it encourage rat-running on country roads?
While we do not believe the use of minor roads will significantly increase as a result of Watlington relief road being built, we recognise that there are local concerns over traffic flows. The relief road will provide an alternative route for traffic to travel around the village centre rather than through.
Will the new relief road be visible from nearby homes?
The scheme includes lighting to ensure that the relief road can be used safely at night. The latest directional lighting will be used to minimise light pollution and to ensure that light is focused on the roadway itself, but there is a possibility that the lighting will be visible from some nearby properties. We expect this to be un-intrusive, and that the impact will be minimised as the planting along the route matures.
Landscaping designs will also be provided that are intended to shield the Watlington Relief Road where possible.
Will the relief road encourage use by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)?
The relief road will be included within the existing 7.5T weight limit ban that covers the Watlington area. However, as the current ban permits HGVs to use the area for access to existing commercial properties or for deliveries, the design of the relief road will allow for manoeuvres by HGVs. The relief road will provide an alternate route to the business park which avoids the need for HGVs to travel through the town.
- Revised alignment for the T-junction at Britwell Road / Harmans Way, providing priority for access on to the relief road.
- The section of the relief road between the Bloor Homes and Redrow developments including a bridge over Chalgrove Brook and a new roundabout at the junction with B480 Cuxham Road.
- The eastern end of the relief road between the Redrow development, at Pyrton Lane, and the B4009 Shirburn Road including provision of the loop at Icknield Community College and a new roundabout at the junction with the B4009.
What is the timescale of the programme?
The current project timetable involves submission of a planning application in Summer 2023, and subject to approval, construction due to start on site in early 2024. The project is due to be completed and the new junctions opened by early 2025.
When will construction start, and how long is it expected to last?
Construction is due to start in early 2024 and is expected to be completed in early 2025, lasting one year.
What is the Council delivering and what will fall to the responsibilities of the various developers?
The Council will be responsible for the construction of three sections between the proposed housing developments:
Bloor Homes and Redrow Homes will be responsible for the sections of road next to their respective developments.
General arrangement plans for the sections that the Council will be delivering, along with a route map and the Options Appriasal Report, are available in the Maps, drawings and supporting documents section on this page.
How will you manage the traffic disruption while the relief road is being built?
There will be some disruption during construction, but this disruption will be minimised through the implementation of a Construction Traffic Management Plan. The construction of the scheme will be carefully phased to ensure that construction traffic can be managed. Details about the traffic management will be available closer to the start of construction. The plan will deter construction traffic from travelling through Watlington.
How were the designs determined and which design standards have been followed?
The scheme has been developed following an extensive optioneering phase and has been designed in accordance with the Manual for Streets 2, and Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (roundabouts only), which adheres to the current national design standards.
Land and finance FAQs
How much will this scheme cost and how is it being funded?
The project estimated cost is £10-million. The project is being funded through a combination of Growth Deal funding and Section 106 contributions from developers.
How is the land being obtained?
The land for the scheme is being obtained through direct negotiation with landowners. We do not expect to issue any Compulsory Purchase Orders to complete the land acquisition for the scheme.
Is planning permission required for this scheme?
Yes. We will be submitting a hybrid planning application which comprises part full detail and part outline. This allows for those elements of the road due to be delivered by OCC with full details approved, whilst parts to be delivered by a third party would form the outline elements of the proposals.
What is the potential impact on wildlife?
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be undertaken to assess the impact on the environment, wildlife, and ecology to ensure any impacts are properly mitigated or avoided where possible in accordance with the applicable legislation. The EIA will also include an Air Quality Impact Assessment and Noise Impact Assessment. A landscaping and planting strategy will be developed in line with the council’s Tree Policy for Oxfordshire.
Will the scheme increase the risk of flooding?
Although the relief road will cross an area designated by the Environment Agency as Flood Zones 2 and 3, the preliminary design phase includes flood modelling and a drainage strategy to limit the possibility of surface water causing issues of flooding. The scheme will have independent drainage on the relief road and will connect at an agreed discharge rate to pipes, attenuation ponds and swales network (drainage ditch) adjacent to the relief road. Additionally, a new bridge will be introduced for traffic to cross Chalgrove Brook.
Active travel FAQs
How will pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians benefit from the scheme?
Consideration has been given to the provision of high-quality pedestrian and cycle facilities to promote active travel and to reduce reliance on private car use. Pedestrian footways are proposed adjacent to the residential developments to allow access. A shared-use footway, which is available for use by both pedestrians and cyclists, is proposed along the length of the relief road, as well as crossing points as appropriate. The shared-use footway will be positioned along the southern side of the carriageway, separated by a grass verge to enhance safety and quality of the streetscape, whilst also improving sustainable drainage.
The relief road offers the opportunity to provide off-carriageway cycle facilities which avoid the need for cyclists and general traffic to mix, improving road safety and accommodating for less confident cyclists such as school children travelling to/from Icknield Community College.
Pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians will also benefit from the proposed closure of Pyrton Lane to motorised traffic. Pyrton Lane is to be closed to motorised traffic from a point north of St Leonards Close up to the junction with Knightsbridge Lane to the north, with the closure in the form of removable bollards that will allow for access in emergencies or for maintenance.
Will the relief road be lit by street lighting?
Yes, street lighting will be located along the relief road.
What is this consultation for?
The purpose of this consultation is to build awareness for the proposed Watlington Relief Road (WRR) scheme and provide an opportunity for the local and wider community to comment on the design of the project.
Will the public get to see any drawings, maps, or plans?
Yes. Maps and plans are available to view on our website and OCC’s consultation platform Let’s Talk Oxfordshire, which showcase the designs of the scheme. If you require hard copies of the maps or plans, please call our customer services team.
In addition, when the planning submission is submitted further information will be provided on the detail of the proposals.
How can I ask a question or make a complaint/comment and how will my feedback be considered?
A public consultation is being held from 20 February 2023 to 20 March 2023 via the Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) consultation platform Let’s Talk Oxfordshire. You will be able to see the plans, maps and drawings. There will also be an online survey for you to complete which asks for your thoughts on the proposals.
You can also email the project team at WRRproject@oxfordshire.gov.uk or write to:
Freepost OXFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Please write ‘Watlington Relief Road consultation’ in the top left corner of the envelope, so we can easily identify what is inside.
What about people without internet access and those unable to attend in-person or who need information in an alternative format?
We know that some people are unable, or find it difficult to, take part in online consultations or need things in a different format such as large print, easy read or a different language, to have their say.
If you, or anyone you know needs a printed copy of the questionnaire, information in an alternative format or help with sharing their thoughts please email WRRproject@oxfordshire.gov.uk or call OCC’s Customer Services Team on 01865 792422.
Please note the council's Customer Services Team are unable to answer detailed questions about the proposals and these will be passed to the relevant project team who will respond as soon as possible.