The Parish Council recognises (and shares) our residents’ frustration with the ongoing closure of Conduit Lane and the seeming lack of progress on the site.
To try to understand this situation, Hugh Potter, Countryside Operations & Volunteer Coordination, Oxfordshire County Council and the wall’s neighbouring resident attended our recent Council meeting to discuss what is happening.
The full discussions have been detailed in the meeting minutes and it has now been agreed that the Parish Council will receive and share weekly updates on progress to ensure residents remain informed and the work continues as fast as possible towards a satisfactory conclusion – and re-opening of the path.
Hugh acknowledged the inconvenience of the lengthy closure – “we are well aware of the delays….and it isn’t acceptable” – and explained why the process was taking longer than expected.
Originally, it has been decided to widen the pathway as it approaches Mill Lane to improve the access of this much-used footpath. During this activity, a section of the wall became unstable and the footpath was closed for safety reasons.
When exploring options for remedying the issue, it discovered that the unstable wall was listed, which made the process of re-building it more complex than initially expected. Consent was required for a re-build, and then there was a delay in finding contractors to dismantle the wall. The next stage of the process involves a transfer of land between the parties and this is going ahead as scheduled.
On Wednesday 23 November, a builder is scheduled to dig new footings and pour concrete, the latter of which requires a week to set before the wall can be built. Stone has been ordered for this purpose and the builder will start work on this as soon as it’s delivered on site. To add further complications, stone walls can only be reconstructed when the temperatures are above a certain level and the weather is suitable – heading into winter is not the ideal time for this, so there is an acknowledgment that the re-building may see delays.
Once the wall is complete, the existing parts of the wall on Mill Street will need to be removed (by County Council contractors) to ensure these align with the new section (and widen the footpath). There is a gas marker that will also need to be moved, as will signs that indicate the footpath. Only once all this work is complete will the footpath be re-opened for use.
When asked whether the footpath could be opened during the gaps between contractors working, Hugh stressed the safety risks associated with the vulnerable wall and the need for full use of the space by the contractors involved. With that in mind, the County Council has extended the closure of Conduit Lane (required by law - the documents can be downloaded at the bottom of the page) for six months to ensure there is sufficient time for all the work to be carried out, although the process is expected to be completed more quickly than that. The intention is for Conduit Lane to be re-opened early in 2023.
The Parish Council will maintain close contact with all parties involved in the work until it is complete. We have requested regular updates, which will be shared on our website and social media to keep residents informed. We will also continue to push for a rapid completion of this work and, in the meantime, have asked the County Council to explore improvements to the diversion routes for those who have additional accessibility requirements.
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