What are you doing to Witney High Street and why?

    We have received a grant from the UK government to invest in Witney High Street and Market Square.

    The project is intended to:

    • Enhance public spaces while protecting the town’s history and character
    • Support local businesses and the markets
    • Make it easier and more enjoyable to walk, wheel and cycle
    • Upgrade access to public transport
    • Improve safety for all users

    What is this funding for?

    Funding for this scheme has been awarded to:

    • Encourage walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport 
    • Rationalise existing space for taxis and on-street parking
    • Improve the road layouts at the junctions of High Street/Welch Way and Market Square/Corn Street to support the existing traffic restriction
    • Implement public realm enhancements

    Why is there all this focus on active travel?

    The Oxfordshire Local Transport and Connectivity Plan aims to reduce the need for individual private car journeys, and make walking, cycling, public and shared transport the natural first choice. It has ambitious targets including to reduce one in four car trips by 2030. To deliver a net-zero transport network by 2040 and to stop road fatalities and life changing injuries by 2050. Investment in active travel will help us achieve these targets.

    I have noticed the term ‘wheeling’. What is this?

    The terms ‘pedestrians, wheelers and cyclists’ who ‘walk, wheel and cycle’ have been designed to include those who depend on non-motorised or low speed wheels. Examples include wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

    What’s happening to the existing traffic restrictions on Witney High Street?

    In late 2021, Oxfordshire County Council decided the traffic restriction on Witney High Street and Market Square should remain. As a part of this, we will be installing temporary safety improvements to the road layout at the entrance to Market Square (Corn Street junction) and the entrance to High Street (Welch Way junction), with the intention that these features could be improved as a part of the enhancements project. The installations will be put in before the Christmas period (dates to be confirmed).

    What feedback are you hoping for from the local community?

    We are seeking input from local residents and businesses to help shape designs to enhance the High Street and Market Square by finding out what is important to the local community.

    The feedback we get from planned engagement sessions, online survey responses, discussion with local councillors, and local community groups and other correspondence will help to develop a draft preliminary design. Early in 2024 we will share the design as part of a further consultation on the enhancements to the High Street and Market Square.

    How will shops and businesses benefit from the changes?

    The aim is to enhance the High Street and Market Square as a place that people can access easily by walking, wheeling, cycling, public transport, or a short walk from one of the 1600 off-street car parking spaces in Witney town centre.

    We aim to enhance the street environment so people want to come, enjoy spending their time and money there and stay longer. We want to hear what businesses want: such as, more loading bays, seating outside their premises or other street improvements.

    Will the public get to see any more drawings, maps or plans?

    At a later stage, designs will be available for further consultation. If a scheme requires planning permission, it will go through the Statutory Planning Process where you will have a chance to review and comment.

    When would work be expected to start?

    Actual construction works are anticipated to start in autumn 2024, and finish by spring 2025. Any construction works will be programmed to minimise disruption during the Christmas period.

    Why will it take so long?

    We want to be sure we are using the money granted to deliver enhancements that will most benefit local people so want to take time to hear from as many people as possible. This helps our aim to ensure everyone’s needs and aspirations are met equitably.

    Using two stages of consultation, one now in 2023 and a second in planned for spring 2024, means we can hear from everyone on what matters to for them and use that to inform the proposals.   

    A draft design will be developed from people’s feedback. During spring 2024 we will invite people to look at the draft design and feedback on what works well and what might need adjusting. That feedback will then be reviewed and used to make any necessary amendments before finalising it in summer 2024.

    How do I have my say?

    You can come to an engagement session in September, and you can also see more online. Printed copies of the project details and a short survey will also be available from:

    • Witney Library, Welch Way, OX28 6JH
    • Witney Town Hall, Market Square, OX28 6AG 
    • Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, OX1 1ND 

    or you can contact the project team via email witneyhighstreet@oxfordshire.gov.uk and ask for a paper copy of the survey to complete. Please contact the county council if you expect to need more than one or two paper copies.

    There will be two engagement sessions on:

    • Saturday 9 September, 10am–4pm at Witney Methodist Church, 40 High Street, Witney OX28 6HG
    • Tuesday 19 September, 4pm–8pm, The Corn Exchange, 19 Market Square, Witney, OX28 6AB

    You can drop in at any time during the hours shown above.

    I have a disability and am worried about how easily I can attend an engagement session.

    Both venues are accessible and you can drop in at any time during the hours shown above. Note that the exhibition at the Methodist Church is on the first floor but there is a lift for people who will need it to access the event. Please email witneyhighstreet@oxfordshire.gov.uk or contact  01865 792 422 and ask for Witney High Street team if you need to ask specific questions about accessibility for the events.

    An online exhibition will run from 12 noon on Tuesday 5 September to 11:59pm on Tuesday 3 October 2023, where you will be able to view background information on the project, complete a survey and leave comments on a map of the High Street and Market Square. The exhibition and survey will be on the Let’s Talk Oxfordshire platform (www.letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/witney-high-street). Note it will not be accessible until after 12 noon on 5 September.

    How can younger people get involved? Will they be able to have their say?

    We welcome feedback from all ages at the engagement sessions and in correspondence sent to the county council project team (email witneyhighstreet@oxfordshire.gov.uk  or write to us at: Witney High Street project: Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, New Road, Oxford, OX1 1ND). Anyone who is over 13 years old can respond to the online/paper surveys.

    Officers will also be carrying out some engagement with local school groups in Witney to get feedback from local school students.

    What stakeholder engagement will you be carrying out?

    Officers from the county council will be engaging with local businesses, residents, commuters and visitors over the coming weeks. There will be a series of planned workshops for councillors, key stakeholder groups and businesses from mid-September to complement the public exhibition events.

    Who is paying for this?

    Oxfordshire County Council has been awarded £1.98m from the UK Government’s Active Travel Fund to deliver the scheme.