West Berkshire Council offices

WBC Winter 2023/24 Report


West Berkshire Council (WBC)

The last West Berkshire Cycle Forum was on 12 September 2023, and the next Forum will be on Wednesday 20 December. A report of that meeting will appear in the next newsletter. If there are any matters about cycling or active travel in West Berkshire you would like raised at the Forum, please contact Rob Hill via wbc@readingcyclecampaign.org.uk.

National Cycle Network route 4, towpath and related matters

Work has been taking place at several locations.

Sustrans have channelled funding to restore a dilapidated section of the Kennet & Avon canal towpath, approximately 2.4 km in length, used by NCN4 between Aldermaston Wharf and Ufton Lane. The works in this section are virtually complete, significantly improving access for walking and wheeling as well as cycling.

Hambridge Road crossing: with significant input from WBC and using DfT funding, Sustrans have now completed the feasibility study for a potential future signalled crossing at the canal bridge.

Ham Bridge to Bull’s Lock, east of Newbury: Canal & River Trust’s application for match-funding to The Good Exchange/Greenham Trust (GT) remains live, with a view to upgrading this 250-metre section.

Scouring/undermining of bank – Victoria Park to Northbrook Street, Newbury: Problem with water winnowing away the sand underneath the towpath in this section, Public Rights of Way (PROW) team has the lead on pursuing remedials, working with the Council’s Structures team.

Cycle Training and events

Bikeability in West Berkshire training delivered to 86% of secondary schools.

Over the summer approximately eight Family Cycling courses were delivered, although with people again going overseas for holidays, the level of engagement was lower than immediately post-pandemic.

Bikeability Trust has moved towards ensuring that 80% of Year 6 students receive Bikeability Training before they move on.

85% of West Berkshire schools involved with Bikeability in 2022-23 – hoping to extend to 94% in 2023-24.

Schemes for construction

Stockcross Linkway Stage 1: Works are due to start on 18 December to construct Stage 1 of a shared pedestrian and cycle path, running along the north side of B4000 and connecting Stockcross Village to the existing footway at the A4 roundabout.

A4 Crown Mead, Thatcham: Due to constraints and exorbitant utilities cost, this scheme currently envisages on-carriageway lanes. Current intent is to carry forward the scheme to construction in 2023-24.

School Street, Francis Baily School, Skillman Drive, Thatcham: For further information on School Streets, visit: https://www.westberks.gov.uk/school-street-schemes and watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6gWsrHvNjM

A ProGen speed indicator device has been installed on the A4 eastbound approaching the crossing near Francis Baily School.

An update was provided on the pioneering School Streets Driver Education Programme which has been developed as a bolster to the School Streets scheme initially introduced in Calcot, using money secured by WBC from Active Travel England.

Schemes in development and the Linkways network

Stockcross Linkway Stage 2: Feasibility Study underway for section from A4/B4000 roundabout to Speen Lane, using ATF4 funding.

Old Bath Road, Speen/Newbury: outline design underway for section from A4 Western Avenue to eastern junction of Speen Lane/access to Goldwell Park, intention being to better connect Western Avenue Stage 1 cycle facilities to the shared path on the west side of Goldwell Park.

Western Avenue Stage 2, Newbury: concept design underway for section from Waitrose roundabout through to Chestnut Crescent estate, mindful of potential for onward connections to east and north.

Robin Hood Active Travel Improvements: modelling commissioned of impacts of proposals for at-grade crossings of A339 and A4.

Theale-Calcot Connector: A Feasibility Study is underway for potential future replacement of pedestrian bridge west of M4 Junction 12 with a replacement structure suitable for cycling as well as walking.

A4 London Road/Newbury Manor Hotel: this scheme remains contingent on completion of legal discussions for land transfers, coupled with resolution of utility issues.

Extension/s to the Eling Way

This relates to potential extensions of the Eling Way multi-user path which currently connects Hermitage with Hampstead Norreys.

Proposed Phase 1 extension: Outline design work continuing for a 1km extension within Hermitage village itself.

Wider activity: WBC wrote to landowners throughout the section from Hermitage to Newbury along or immediately parallel to the former railway alignment, offering the chance to meet and discuss potential scheme.

Nil or negative reaction led to exploration, with PROW team, of scope to upgrade/restoration of existing bridleway and footpaths in the area south of Hermitage, as an interim measure.

However, the bridleway is very undulating, with some sensitive sections, and an ongoing landowner issue. Another potential alignment, using an existing PROW, has been identified. However, this could only form one part of a potential route south from Hermitage and further landowner engagement would be needed for a roadside section.

Regarding a potential northern extension towards Compton, WBC had asked again about scope for a path to run alongside the proposed Hampstead Norreys flood alleviation scheme but is still seeking a response. Favoured alignment identified but would cross multiple landholdings.

Rob Hill
WBC Campaigner for RCC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *