Major Didcot infrastructure plan set for public scrutiny

Set for 26 days over a 12-week period, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has called in the HIF1 Didcot and surrounding areas proposal.

This intervention took place after the Council rejected the planning application in July 2023, and Oxfordshire County Council will now have to provide evidence supporting its application for the scheme.

A plan that promises to transform travel for local residents and commuters, it has been said that the scheme will reduce congestion in nearby villages, improve air quality and noise levels, while also upgrading pedestrian and cycling connectivity.

If given the green light, the project will improve the area’s travel infrastructure by providing more sustainable travel options in and around Didcot, offering more reliable journey times, and supporting allocated housing and employment sites.

The public inquiry will be taking place at Bee House in Milton Park, and members of the public are welcome to attend.

To accommodate those unable to be there in person, there will also be a live stream, to be found on the official public inquiry portal.

Furthermore, all public documents concerning the inquiry can be viewed online or at local libraries in Didcot, Abingdon, Berinsfield, or County Hall.

The inquiry will run from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Thursday, wrapping up at 3pm on Fridays.

There are a number of dates set for the inquiry, starting on February 20, with May 8 to 10 set aside as reserve days.

The full dates can be found on the Council’s website.

Post-inquiry, the government-appointed inspector will draft a report and present it to the Secretary of State, who will then make the final decision on the fate of the project.

The scheme was rejected by Oxfordshire County Council last summer.

After two full days of discussion last July, seven committee members voted against the scheme while just two were in favour.

The proposals included building a dual carriageway on the A4130 from the A34 Milton Interchange towards Didcot, new bridges, and a Clifton Hampden bypass.

The committee’s reasons for refusal were less about the principle of the scheme and more about its details.

A particular focus was on the outdated traffic modelling data, which used figures from 2016/17 and did not consider the traffic impact on Abingdon or Nuneham Courtenay.

There were also questions over the detailed design of the bridges included in the plans, including the major bridge over the river Thames near Culham.

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