‘What do we want in 2020?’

County council leader Ian Hudspeth has announced his visions for the future, with a monorail around the city among them.

He outlined his ambitions at the ‘Connecting Oxfordshire’ launch last week, which looked beyond the already planned £800m of transport investment by 2031.

Cllr Hudspeth looked to another wave of innovation and investment.

The pedestrianisation of George Street, turning St Giles into a boulevard, as well as connecting key sites, such as London Oxford Airport and MINI Plant Oxford with the city were just a few ideas.

Planned transport improvements, that should already be in place by 2020, are the upgrading of Oxford and Didcot Parkway train stations, electrification of the main Oxfordshire rail network, improving the Milton Interchange and link roads to Science Vale.

Making The Plain roundabout, Oxford, safer for cyclists, improving Frideswide Square and a new Bicester Park and Ride are also on the list.

Cllr Hudspeth says, with 80,000 new jobs and 106,000 homes predicted by 2031, a debate on Oxfordshire’s future is worth having.

“If we don’t start having this debate we will never actually get anywhere,” he said.

“What I really want to have is this vision for the future.

“What do we want in 2020?

“Do we want to remain as we are or do we look forward, realising the growth potential of Oxfordshire?

“Remaining as we are, it’s not really an option, as far as I’m concerned, so we need to have a debate.”

Cllr Hudspeth added: “There are exciting times ahead.

“Towns across Oxfordshire are going to increase in size, with places such as Bicester set to double in size over the next 10 years.

“We are also seeing the technology and knowledge industry Science Vale Oxford really take off and the county council needs to lead the way in developing the supporting infrastructure.

“We can’t rule out ideas that might seem fanciful, such as creating a passenger service on the Cowley branch line, a mass transit system into Oxford.”

However, Hugh Jaeger, spokesman for the Thames Valley branch of Railfuture and the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK, believes these visions should have been integrated earlier and alongside the planned housing.

“Cllr Hudspeth’s vision seems to have distinct periods in it,” said Mr Jaeger.

“Period one is big development and period two is transit, but it is less certain.

“It is the cart before the horse.”

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