I responded to the consultation by WoBC on the western part of the North Wokingham Distributor Road from the M4 overbridge to Toutley Road. This is proposed to be a single-carriageway 40mph road with shared-use either side. There are very few junctions, so I think an off-road path is acceptable, although not ideal.
However, I feel that segregation is essential in any place where people walking are expected and, in this case, shared-use could easily be incorporated because it is a new road.
A more difficult question is whether housing development will happen around the road, which will lead to multiple crossing of side roads, and then people on bikes will choose the road.
On a more strategic level, the new road is unlikely to have any significant impact on congestion within Wokingham. It has limited capacity, and has no effect on West to South journeys, which are the main cause of congestion. Those, including John Redwood MP, who expect it to allow a transformation of Wokingham town centre are likely to be disappointed.
Planning is in the news in Wokingham because housing developers are being very successful in challenging WoBC’s decisions. If you’re considering commenting on an application, I recommend the CPRE website www.planninghelp.cpre.org.uk which explains how you can write a comment that has an impact rather than making you feel better.
Importantly, the Government has just revised the National Planning Policy Framework (a.k.a.The Developers’ Charter www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework–2). Cycling and walking are emphasised in Section 9.
Peter Howe, WoBC campaigner for RCC