A TRANSPORT chief has warned commuters “be careful what you wish for” when arguing for improvements to the A40.

Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member for transport Rodney Rose said thousands more homes would need to be built to finance improvements.

West Oxfordshire District Council is currently considering allowing only 5,500 homes to be built in the district by 2029.

Residents have written to the council to raise concerns about A40 congestion in the district council’s public consultation into its core strategy.

Mr Rose said: “If Witney wants to go up from a population of 60,000 they would need roads. But if they do not want that, do not expect vast infrastructure improvements.

“An improvement to the transport link would lead to more housing growth. Be careful what you wish for.”

Mr Rose also ruled out dualling the A40 between Witney and Oxford and said it is more important to clear congestion at the Wolvercote Roundabout.

He said: “Dualling the A40 now achieves nothing. You create a two-lane car park up to Wolvercote Roundabout rather than a one-lane car park because there would be no greater traffic flow. It would be a total waste of money.”

A scheme to improve congestion, dubbed the ‘top hat’, was first proposed 20 years ago and would link the A40 by dual carriageway to the M40.

The approximately £150m road would loop north of Oxford from the A40 before the Wolvercote Roundabout to the M40 at Junction 8A.

Mr Rose said 20,000 to 30,000 homes would need to be built across Oxfordshire to fund the development.

But Witney West county councillor Steve Hayward, who lives in the town, said he would be happy for Witney’s population to grow from about 30,000 to 60,000 over the next 25 years if it meant better infra-structure. He added: “High house prices are putting people off from coming to the area and if you build enough homes the prices will come down.

“If we want to attract more jobs to the area then Witney has to keep on growing and when new homes are built money can be spent on infrastructure improvements.”

The county council is now considering linking the A40 and A44 using funds from the Northern Gateway development to bypass the Wolvercote Roundabout.

Warwick Robinson, district council cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “One of the reasons why West Oxfordshire has relatively lower growth than other districts is because of the constraints of the A40.

“If the A40 were suddenly to be dualled and all the problems taken out that would make West Oxfordshire, particularly Witney and Carterton, much more susceptible to hugely greater development than we are looking at.”

The Oxford Mail asked all district and city councils to list the number of homes in planning or development stage.

Oxford City Council said 2,645 homes are being planned or developed, West Oxfordshire 1,690, Cherwell 4,978, South Oxfordshire 4,816 and Vale of White Horse 4,898.

Several residents used a public consultation into West Oxfordshire District Council’s core development strategy to call for improvements to the A40 between Witney and Oxford.