Keep Harwell Rural Campaign

Traffic in Harwell

The certainty of increasing volumes of traffic through the village as a result of planned large scale housing development has been a major concern for many villagers. Keep Harwell Rural is persistent in raising this matter with decision-making bodies. Our position is that the impact on Harwell village can only be mitigated effectively by a bypass.

The problems of the high volumes of traffic during the peak morning and evening periods have grown with the continued growth of traffic nationally and especially the local growth as businesses thrive at the Harwell campus and Milton trading estate. The plans for 3,200 houses at Great Western Park have driven our efforts to measure the scale of the problem now and estimate the future impacts on us.

In 2002 and 2004 traffic counts were organised so as to have solid data to support our case made at public enquiries for requiring bypasses to stop further growth of traffic through the village. These results, originally published in Harwell News, are shown below. Although we have failed to get an inch of bypass built before GWP started, we believe that our representations have played a part in now seeing the two links we require ( Didcot-Harwell Strategic Link Road A4130 to A417 and Didcot- Harwell Field Link Road A417 to A4185 ) being elevated to a “Necessary” status in the 2016-2021 Didcot Infrastructure Delivery Schedule with comments that without them growth at Didcot would “need to be reviewed/would not be able to occur”

This said, we are mindful of Marcham’s failure to secure a bypass after 70 years, noted below, and the present economic situation that shows little sign of improving in the near future.

Our own monitoring in 2002 and 2004 showed total volumes of traffic passing the four points in either way as follows:

  Winnaway Village Hall Manor Green Didcot road
2002 daily total 7964 4922 2042 5865
2004 daily total 7356 4447 2151 5618
2004 8-9 am peak 930 450 252 624
2004 5-6 pm peak 790 465 209 580
In the am peak a vehicle passed every 4 secs 8 secs 14 secs 6 secs

Although the volumes were mostly down across the two years, this was possibly attributed to temporary closure of Wantage road for road works. 

We felt that our figures covering 14 hours for a single day were in line with the county averages from the surrounding monitors that were run for 3 week periods and then adjusted with various statistical tweaks.

The OCC figures for Marcham were also noted in the range 12,500 - 13,800 Annual Average daily traffic flow.   

The  6 points surrounding us showed an average daily range of 4,500 at Upton, 7,700 east of Rowstock roundabout, 8,100 to its west, 9,000 to its north. Only the point to the east of the traffic lights at the Steventon turn on the A4130 with its 15,200 daily average showed above Marcham. 

Our calculations and the developer’s traffic modelling show that when GWP is completed the volumes through Harwell will increase by at least 50%.

Traffic Monitoring data from OCC.
This data is extracted from the files sent to us by an OCC Officer, who is now in a different role from running the monitoring unit. He told us that - provisionally - traffic movements in Oxon had fallen by 2% in 2008, presumably due to fuel prices, the economy etc.

We've included Marcham data as a reference point for our own hopes that a bypass might relieve Harwell traffic loads. They have been trying to get a bypass to the A-road through their village for 70 years without success.

Road & location 1998 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Ref
A4185 South of Rowstock 8500 8600 8100 9100 8800 8700 8100 CP205
A417 East of Rowstock roundabout 7300 8200 7200 7400 7700 7900 7700 CP199
A4130 North of Rowstock roundabout 8500 9100 8600 9200 9800 9600 9000 CP204
A417 NW of Upton 4400 4500 4300 4300 4400 4600 4500 CP197
A4130 East of B4017 14400 15000 14700 15600 15900 15600 15200 CP203
B4493 East of Harwell 5303 6200 5600 5600 6200 6100 6300 CP109
A415 West of Marcham 11700 12600 12700 12400 12900 12600 12500 CP135
A415 East of Marcham   14300 17800     14000 13800 CP260

Traffic Articles from Harwell News

Our traffic problem is not new as is shown in the extracts below from some 1970s Harwell News items, before the opening of the new A34 bypassing the village and the Didcot Milton link road. In fact we see that the traffic volumes measured by one day counts in 1976, 77 and 78 show that the traffic levels then were a little greater than now and included a very high number of heavy lorries and buses.

The strength of feeling about the levels then can be seen from the extracts. The advent of the Didcot – Milton link road and a restriction on heavy vehicles through the village improved matters. But now we face traffic levels from the expansion of Didcot that are predicted to be significantly higher than these 1970s levels. THIS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN – THE NEW LINK ROADS MUST BE PROVIDED AS A CONDITION OF ANY FURTHER DEVELOPMENT.

Summary of 1976 and 1977 Data

White Hart Corner all vehicles of which, lorries  
28 June 1976      
6.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m 6793 953  
7 a.m. to 7.p.m frequency every 9 seconds every 55 seconds  
19 September 1977      
6.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m 6726 877  

December 1976

Harwell and traffic

White Hart corner

That increasing traffic — particularly heavy (and heavier) lorries — has been a growing problem to Harwell over the past years hardly needs restating. That the problem has now reached dangerous proportions, where old buildings are threatened and the chances of a serious accident occuring on one of our corners increased, is becoming daily more obvious.

What has been done? What can be done?

As most of you are aware, the Parish Council, and others, pressed strongly but unsuccessfully, at the time of the original enquiry into the new A34 line, for a take-off point on the Didcot Road which would bring relief for the village. Since then the flow of traffic has increased, partly from the general increase in traffic volume, and partly because of the weight restriction on Cholsey Bridge which has diverted Didcot-bound lorries from Reading and the south through our village. The recent temporary closure of the Hagbourne Road Bridge at Didcot has also led to further traffic for Harwell ­some of it doubtless permanent. The new A34 will, of course, be no help to Harwell whatsoever.

The only way in which relief can now come quickly to the village is by the early completion, by the County Council, of the Milton Heights/Didcot link road, and the speedy repair of Cholsey Bridge, which is the responsibility of British Rail. Both projects are threatened by expenditure cuts, as well as other priorities on the limited resources available.

On 28th June this year the Parish Council undertook a further traffic survey in the village. The results were staggering. SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE vehicles drove round White Hart Corner between 6.30 a.m. and 11.30 p.m. and NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE of these were lorries. In the twelve hours 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. a lorry went round White Hart Corner EVERY FIFTY FIVE SECONDS, and there was an average of more than seven vehicles a minute over the same period.

These facts were compiled into a detailed report which the Parish Council sent to our M.P, Mr Neave, our County and District Councillors, the Chairmen of Oxfordshire Environmental and Highways Committees, the County Surveyor and Planning Officers, the Press and Radio Oxford. British Rail have also been contacted, and the County Council asked to bring what pressure they can to speed the repair of Cholsey Bridge.

The result to date is that the Milton Heights/Didcot link road has been re­instated in the County's capital programme — albeit third after the Faringdon By-pass and the Thame By­pass. These last two projects will take at least eighteen months each to complete, so the chance of a start on the Link Road before 1981 is unlikely. British Rail are still saying 1978 before the Cholsey Bridge is repaired, so the outlook in the short term is not encouraging.

What else can be done? The main thing is to ensure that the existing priorities are kept, and that pressure is maintained on the County Council and British Rail. The Parish Council will certainly be doing this — but each and every one can help by bringing any problems caused by traffic constantly to the attention of the authorities, either through the Parish Council or by writing or speaking direct.
HARWELL MUST HAVE RELIEF FROM THIS TRAFFIC, and as soon as is humanly and economically possible. Please help to bring this about.

[Source: Harwell News #1 Dec 1976 ]

January 1978


The Parish Council carried out another traffic survey in the village on 19th September 1977. It will be no surprise that the situation showed no improvement over the survey of June 1976, with this time SIX THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX vehicles rounding White Hart Corner between 6.30 am and 11.30 pm — of which EIGHT HUNDRED AND EIGHTY SEVEN were heavy lorries or buses.

Again these figures have been communicated to the County Council and all other involved parties with the plea for relief at the earliest possible moment. Our hest hopes still rest on the completion of the Milton Heights — Didcot Link Road which continues to be scheduled for 1981. It is essential that this date is not put back and the best way to ensure that that does not happen is to keep up the pressure on the authorities concerned. If you are in any way affected by this continuous traffic through our village say so — and keep on saying it.

[Source: Harwell News #4 Jan 1978 ]

May 1978


Since the opening of the new A34 the speed of traffic on the old road has considerably increased. Motorists are asked, please, to show particular consideration to pedestrians, and especially schoolchildren, crossing the road at the A.E.R.E. site.

[Source: Harwell News #5 May 1978 ]

October 1981


The number of casualties in road accidents in Oxfordshire rose slightly from 3283 in 1979 to 3331 in 1980. The proportion of fatal and serious accidents increases steadily: comparing 1976 with 1980 there was a rise for pedestrians from 25% to 44% and for cyclists from 20% to 32% (parents please note). Eleven more motorcyclists were fatally injured in 1980 than in 1979.

The A417 from Harwell to Rowstock shows well over twice the national average accident rate; but the number of accidents at Rowstock has more than halved in the last two years.

[Source: Harwell News #15 Oct 1981 ]



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