HEAVY Goods Vehicles (HGVs) could be banned from Burford in a matter of weeks after almost 40 years of campaigning from residents.
An 18-month experimental weight limit order through the town centre is expected to come into force in early August, once the final steps are completed next month.
It is a major victory for Burford, with the town council raising £130,000 to fund measures that residents have called for since 1982.
The order was approved by Oxfordshire County Council last July, but the coronavirus pandemic stalled the scheme.
After having to be patient for so long, Burford mayor John White is delighted that the wait could soon be over.
He said: “It will be tremendous when we prosecute the first transgressor to really show that we’ve arrived.
“Because we’ve had virtually no traffic for the last three months it demonstrates how pleasant it will be if there are no HGVs coming through.
“It was greeted with great fervour when we told them the order had been made.”
The 7.5 tonne weight limit covers the length of the High Street, between the A40 roundabout to the south and the A361/A424 junction north of Burford Bridge.
Notices warning of the move are already displayed in the town, with a Traffic Regulation Order set to be implemented as early as mid-July.
It will then be advertised for 14 days, with the order coming into force seven days after that expires.
Residents say that preventing HGVs from using the town centre will help preserve Burford’s £15m tourism industry and reduce air pollution levels.
It will also lessen the damage to listed buildings, which make up 94 per cent of the High Street – the highest percentage in the UK.
Meanwhile, county council monitoring in April 2019 found that a ban in Burford would reduce HGV traffic through Horsefair in Chipping Norton – which has one of the highest levels of air pollution in west Oxfordshire – by 28 per cent.
County councillors unanimously approved plans for an HGV ban through the centre of Chipping Norton last November.
The order for Burford was passed last July by Yvonne Constance, the county council’s cabinet member for environment, whose remit includes transport.
Nicholas Field Johnson, county councillor for Burton and Carterton North, said: “The game-changer was councillor Constance becoming cabinet member for transport.
“She really understood the need for change.”
He added: “On a busy day you could physically see the buildings shaking and it was destroying all the Victorian pipes and drainage.
“We’re keen to save the culture of Burford.”
The town council raised £130,000 by Christmas to fund the changes, through contributions from nearby councils and a public appeal which saw Cotswold Wildlife Park give £50,000.
County Council spokesperson Martin Crabtree said: “Due to recent events with Covid-19, the time period in which the signage was going to be erected was delayed.
“Therefore, we are estimating the experimental weight limit will come into force early August.”