GETTING around Oxfordshire might be made easier by taking roads away rather than building more, according to a senior council boss.

Hundreds of thousands of new homes are expected to be built in Oxfordshire before 2050, along with the controversial Oxford-Cambridge expressway.

But Susan Halliwell, the county council’s director for planning and place, said work to ‘improve connectivity’ would be more important than simply extending or building more roads.

She appeared on a panel on Monday discussing the challenges of the £215m Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, agreed by councillors in March.

She said: “We still need to make sure we are meeting the needs of the population. It still means we have to provide affordable housing; we have to improve connectivity.

“I say connectivity and mobility – that’s not necessarily ‘build more roads’. That might be about taking road space away and travelling around the county in a different way or connecting differently and seeing how we live our lives in a different way.

She added: “There’s not one nugget that will solve it. We are proving it over the last five years that we can sustain, through austerity, and that we have done very well.”

About one million new homes are planned for the ‘arc’ between Oxford and Cambridge before 2050 under Government plans signed off by Chancellor Philip Hammond in October.

Councils in Oxfordshire, Cambridge and in areas between have already made plans for about 650,000 of those homes, so about 350,000 will need to be added across that area.

Groups of Oxfordshire councillors are already looking at how plans can be made ahead of 2050 as part of a joint statutory spatial plan (JSSP).

Nigel Tipple, the chief executive of OxLEP, the county’s local enterprise partnership, said: “There’s a scale issue that we’ve not experienced before.”

Amongst other plans, Mr Tipple said, Milton Keynes’ population is set to double by the middle of this century.

JSSPs will look at the cumulative impact on the region by such growth, he said.

Mr Tipple added it was important to plan ahead to ensure high skilled workers remain in Oxfordshire to contribute to the county’s economy.

He said: “We need to start at primary school because it’s too late when people are 17, 18, 19-years-old. We need to start earlier getting people and parents and teachers to understand the scale of the opportunity. We’ve got a very dynamic space that is responding well. Apprenticeships nationally are dipping but in Oxfordshire we’ve done really well to keep that momentum.”