RESIDENTS have called for more ‘joined up thinking’ after two major new cycling and foot paths built in South Oxfordshire were not linked up.

A gap of about 250 metres means the new cycle lane and footpath alongside the Harwell link road, which opened last week, does not join with another new cycle lane and footpath built near the new homes of the Great Western Park estate, west of Didcot.

Harwell resident, Geoff Richardson, said that this meant users having to come off the ‘excellent’ new facilities and onto the road or make their way along a section of ‘old, narrow and uneven footpath’ that is susceptible to poor drainage.

Oxfordshire County Council said it is already working on a plan to ‘improve’ this path.

But Mr Richardson, a retired logistics manager, said: “It seems ridiculous to spend so much money on building a new road and not link it up to what was there already.

“The state of the footpath that’s left is horrendous.

“With rain like we’ve had the last couple of days, it pools for several days.

“It’s used by quite a few schoolchildren going to UTC Oxfordshire and I’ve heard of lots of cases of them getting drenched when trying to cycle along it.”

The £11.65million Harwell Link Road was officially opened on March 29.

It is intended to relieve traffic going through Harwell village and provide easier access to the Harwell science campus from Didcot.

On the opening day the new cycle paths, which can also be used by pedestrians and horses, were hailed as making it easier for people to travel between major employment sites in the south of the county.

But Mr Richardson, who has lived in the area for 35 years, said this is being held back by the gap between the paths.

He also said he felt the road is only half-built and that an original plan, formulated more than 30 years ago, was for it to take traffic directly to the Harwell campus via the new interchange at Chilton.

Instead the new road terminates on the A417, sending traffic down towards the congested Rowstock roundabout before they can reach the business site.

He said: “If the new road is successful at drawing traffic away from the village this short 250m section will remain as a very busy and unsafe route for cyclists, pedestrians and users of mobility scooters.

“It will put people off going out on their bikes in future and ultimately add to the traffic.”

Paul Smith, spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, said: “Oxfordshire County Council is in the process of securing improvements to the path through a planning application in the area.

“Once the planning application has been determined by the local planning authority (the district council), the county council will be in a position to progress plans.”