Campaigners vow to continue fighting controversial road plan
Campaigners have vowed to continue fighting a controversial road plan south of Wokingham.
Campaigners are clashing with council planners not to include separate footpaths and cycle lanes along the new road, which will start from Waterloo Road to join Finchampstead Road near the Tesco supermarket.
READ MORE: £ 1.75million spent to buy houses in Wokingham to make way for a main road
In July 2020, the Ministry of Transportation released Local Transport Note (LTN) 1/20, which advises councils to separate pedestrians and cyclists.
Wokingham’s Liberal Democrats have called for the road to be redesigned to comply with the guidelines, arguing it makes it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to travel.
Councilor Maria Gee, (Lib Dem, Wescott) said, “I accept that this road needs to be built. What frustrates us is the lack of understanding of the importance of providing safe and attractive infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and what that infrastructure should look like.
“If we are serious about meeting our climate change goals and improving the air quality and public health of our communities, the council needs to change its mind dramatically.
“The road has yet to be built, it is still in the initial design stage, so there is still time for Wokingham City Council to think again, and we will continue to lobby on this very important issue.
“Do I think there is a possibility of an overhaul? I think this Conservative-led council is not entirely committed to tackling climate change. If they had been, they would have oriented this road towards pedestrians and cyclists.
“I am not convinced that it will be redesigned, but I will push for changes to be made.”
The road was designed in November 2014, ahead of the council’s declaration of climate emergency in July 2019 and the release of LTN 1/20.
READ MORE: Major road in Wokingham approved despite safety concerns
Cllr Pete Dennis (Lib Dem, Wescott) said, “The highway design team painted a pretty doomsday scenario at the planning meeting if the committee calls for improvements to the proposed scheme. They made it clear that the whole strategic development plan would collapse, when all that was required was a reallocation of part of the grass border to make a cycle path.
Agent Connor Corrigan, director of consulting services for strategic development locations and delivery planning, dismissed the prospect of an overhaul. Mr Corrigan said: “Our other roads are built to the standards that we seek to do here, we have no accident reports, the road safety audits have all passed on these roads so there is no accident. no security implications.
“The 15% of land needed for this [segregated cycle lanes] That probably doesn’t sound like much, but it actually has a big impact on the board. So there is a delay in the redesign of the road, and there are significant financial implications for the council in showing up, and there are significant implications for the actual number of homes we can achieve in South. Wokingham.
“The strategic development locations are designed not to allow speculative housing developments elsewhere where we do not have the infrastructure, these homes will go elsewhere without the infrastructure.
“We are talking about a major delay here, we are not talking about six months, twelve months, we are talking about years, and it could be three to four years. It is not just a matter of putting two meters on the side of a road. ”
The road plans were approved by the committee by five votes to three.
Simon Weeks (Conservative), Chris Bowring (CON), Angus Ross (CON), Abdul Loyes (CON) and Andrew Mickleburgh (Lib Dem) voted for the road, with Stephen Conway (Lib Dem), Rachelle Shepherd-Dubey (Lib Dem) and Carl Doran (Labor) voting against.
Cllr Gee said: “We have to make the road safe and enjoyable for pedestrians and cyclists and it is not.”