IT is indeed a bold vision that Ian Hudspeth will set out today to transform Oxford and how we move around it.
A huge swathe of our city centre streets – notably St Giles – pedestrianised and mass public transport out to Cowley and potentially the airport are the cornerstones of a plan Oxfordshire County Council is mapping out to deal with the city and county’s future growth.
There will undoubtedly be critics who dismiss this grand vision as just that – a pipe dream that will never come to fruition. There will also be those who ask, not unreasonably, who is going to pick up the bill. But the key thing is that our civic leaders are thinking hard and thinking big.
The new housing plans drawn up by the councils are looking at 100,000 dwellings. Even if we fail to hit that number, this city’s roads cannot sustain many more people and their movements.
New infrastructure needs to be put in place before the population grows, or we will simply grind to a halt. We are close to that now at times.
While the pedestrianisation of St Giles may catch the eye initially, the prospect of a mass transit system out to Cowley seems the most sensible and achievable.
There is already the line in place and this could be the project that proves to doubters that such systems have a role to play here.
It’s doubtful we will we see all of Mr Hudspeth’s grand plans whizzing around Oxford around 2020.
But he is right to be bold and set the discussion rolling now.
There really isn’t any time to waste.