Officials are being accused of wanting to introduce a major new road "by stealth" which could transform rural Oxfordshire and direct more traffic to "disintegrating" local roads.

Oxfordshire County Council has been accused of allowing new roads to serve new developments which could lead to "rat running between the A34 and M40". 

Bypasses in Abingdon, Chislehampton and relief roads in Watlington and Benson are among the areas highlighted for concern by campaigners. 

Other roads are bypasses of Abingdon and Clifton Hampden (HIF1), conversion of the A415/A4074 (Golden Balls) and “improvement” of the B4015 between the A4074 and Chiselhampton.

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Chris Church co-chair of Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance (ORRA), said: “Each of these proposed new road schemes are claimed to 'relieve' local traffic, but planners are clearly allowing for more and more cars on our roads.

thisisoxfordshire: Marked transport schemes.Marked transport schemes. (Image: ORAA)

"One outcome could be the emergence of new ‘rat runs’ between the A34 and M40 Junctions 6 & 7.

"The county council's traffic modelling suggest that this could draw traffic off the M40 onto our disintegrating local roads. 

"This push for increased traffic, noise and pollution would have devastating consequences for our countryside and completely undermines our agreed local transport plan."

Debbie Davis, also of the ORRA, said: "Most of the highway schemes that ORAA has identified are needed for the Chalgrove Airfield development so people living in Chalgrove and the surrounding area can travel long distances by road to Oxford or Science Vale, or commute out of Oxfordshire to work.

thisisoxfordshire: Chalgrove Airfield.Chalgrove Airfield.

"The biggest opportunity that local authorities have to deliver net zero is by placing people close to where they work." 

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman has said plans for bypasses of Chiselhampton, Stadhampton and Cuxham and “improvement” of the B4015 between A4074 and Chiselhampton are actually no longer required due to changes in the planning process for the Chalgrove Airfield housing site.

The spokesman has been contacted for clarification on these planning changes at Chalgrove where more than 3,000 homes have been proposed. 

But a Shirburn Parish Council spokesman also raised concerns about the impact of other proposals on residents.

He said: "Watlington Relief Road will open up the stalled Chalgrove Airfield development with its roundabouts for increased traffic volumes and become a rat run for the “induced traffic” from further afield to access the M40.

"Shirburn already suffers from speeding traffic and is a road traffic accident black spot. 

thisisoxfordshire: Some traders on Watlington High Street have criticised the proposals.Some traders on Watlington High Street have criticised the proposals. (Image: Loraine Daniels.)

"This induced traffic volume will increase the danger to residents and their children who have to cross the B4009 to go to school and access the local amenities.

"The traffic and the extensive residential development will cause harm to the conservation village of Shirburn, the roadside listed buildings and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty."

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman has said the Benson and Watlington Relief Road are schemes that were identified by their neighbourhood plans.

He added: "The requirement for these schemes was identified in the evidence base of the SODC local plan 2035 and the transport assessments related to the housing sites in those settlements."