Pictured: Cyclists and walkers in the centre of Oxford, a scene the new project aims to replicate to the west of the city
The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) have today (27 April) revealed that works on phase one of a new project – set to boost ‘cleaner’ modes of commuting in Oxford, as well as connectivity options in-and-out of the city – continues to make positive progress.
The project – which is supported by funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund – will see the construction of improved cycle and pedestrian paths located to the west of the city, with routes leading in-and-out of Oxford city centre, via Osney Mead.
Over the coming months, work will continue on the first stage of the overall project. Once finished, it is hoped the network will enhance connections in-and-out of the city and will encourage many of the thousands of commuters – who enter Oxford on a daily basis – to consider using cleaner and healthier modes of transport, as well as enhancing the experience of those who currently walk, run or cycle in the city.
Work began on the first stage of the project in early-March this year.
OxLEP hopes the network will also help to make a positive impact on reducing the current level of carbon emissions generated along some of the city’s main transport routes.
The project aligns closely with the aim of the county’s energy strategy – launched by OxLEP in November 2019 – which sets out a desire to reduce countywide emissions by 50% by 2030, compared with 2008 levels.
In addition, the project sits favourably with a target created by the group behind the Zero Carbon Oxford Charter, which aims to see the city achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Away from connectivity, the project will complement future plans – set out in the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy – for the county to become a top-three global innovation ecosystem by 2040, with the measures playing an important role in supporting the development of the new Osney Mead Innovation Quarter.
The Innovation Quarter will see the city benefit from the creation of new cutting-edge research facilities, commercial space and accommodation totalling over 20,800m2 of space.
The first stage of the transport improvements, and the wider Innovation Quarter project, are both being delivered by the University of Oxford.
Better cycle and pedestrian paths will help achieve the University's environmental targets by enabling safe, sustainable travel around the city, while the Innovation Quarter will create jobs and drive economic growth – both locally and nationwide – by encouraging the commercial application of University researchers' expertise.
OxLEP secured £1.7million-worth of funding for the connectivity works via the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
OxLEP is one of 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England playing a key role in driving forward economic growth and – by 2021 – it’s expected that central Government will have invested over £12billion into the UK economy via the Local Growth Fund.
The Local Growth Fund investment aims to allow LEPs to use their local knowledge to promote growth in their individual regions. Analysis has shown that for every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested, £4.81 in benefits could be generated.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured around £660m-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 48,000 new jobs created in the county to-date.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “The confirmation that such a significant project has started – supporting a desire to move towards cleaner and indeed, healthier modes of commuting in and around Oxford city centre – is excellent news.
“As the local enterprise partnership for Oxfordshire, we have – and will continue to – play a critical role in securing investment for the county which will not only benefit our business community, but our wider communities too.
“Such investment not only boosts greener forms of connectivity, but also, complements existing infrastructure, helping to unlock critical key assets that will back our economic recovery from COVID-19.”
It’s also hoped that the Osney Mead Innovation Quarter will create greater opportunities for employment, as well as attracting investment and stimulating growth and regeneration in Oxford.
Dr Phil Clare, Deputy Director for Research Services (Knowledge Exchange and Engagement) at the University of Oxford, added: "We want to transform Osney Mead from an underused industrial estate into a vibrant community that brings researchers and entrepreneurs together to foster innovation and address the biggest challenges facing humanity, whether these relate to clean energy or zero-carbon flight."