Last April Oxfordshire County Council was awarded £1.98million from the Government’s Active Travel Fund for street improvements.
The funding was granted on the understanding that the current traffic restrictions are in place.
A section of the high street was controversially closed to private vehicles in 2020 to enable social distancing during Covid.
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The improvements aim to enhance public spaces while protecting the town’s history and character, support local businesses and the market, make it easier and more enjoyable to walk, wheel and cycle, upgrade access to public transport and improve safety for all users.
Councillor Dr Ruth Smith, leader of Witney Town Council, said: “Councillors have held out for residents’ input into improving the High Street. It’s been a long wait but now there’s a good team in place.
“Now it’s important for everyone to stay positive and take part in reimagining the space so it can become a place where we want to spend time, shop, meet up and enjoy our community.”
The project area runs from the roundabout at Welch Way/Wesley Walk to the War Memorial.
Currently, a sensor at the Town Hall, which measures the numbers and types of traffic is helping inform the evidence for the shaping of the High Street.
Dr Smith said: “The funding is not enough to completely reshape the area but any ideas that are ‘too big’ for this phase, will not be wasted.
“Please feed them in – the project team have said they might possibly write them up and even get the designers on the case to store for future funding opportunities.”
An online consultation starts next week and will run from Tuesday, September 5 – Tuesday, October 3 where residents can view background information on the project and leave comments.
Paper copies are available by calling Oxfordshire County Council customer services on 01865 792 422 or by emailing [email protected]
There will also be two public drop-in events on Saturday, September 9 between 10am-4pm at the Methodist Church, Witney, and on Tuesday, September 19, 4-8pm, at The Corn Exchange, Witney.
In addition, engagement is also planned with councillors, local businesses and regarding transport and accessibility.
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Witney Town Council will hold a council meeting on Monday September 18 at 5.15pm to formulate its response to this online feedback.
The enhancements will be designed during the autumn.
There will then be a statutory consultation on the design, expected next spring.
By Christmas, Oxfordshire County Council hopes to replace the current planters with narrowed road entrances at each end of the restricted road, and clear restriction signs.
The roundabouts will be removed and clear signs installed showing priority directions into and out of the closed section of High Street.
These are road safety features and do not come out of the project budget. They may be changed in the final design or may fit in well with it.
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