FUNDING for a new £5.7m cycle path linking Newbury to Windsor has been confirmed.
West Berkshire Council will be investing a £100,000 grant from the Department for Transport into the scheme, while Wokingham Borough Council has committed £1.2m and Reading has put in £500,000.
Three quarters of the cost will be picked up by the Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The route follows the A4/A329 corridor between Newbury and Ascot and aims to improve cycling connectivity between Berkshire’s leisure, residential, commercial and employment centres.
It will also act as a link to attractions in the area, serving popular visitor destinations such as Legoland and Windsor Great Park.
A transport business case submitted by WSP in 2015, says the route will provide a coherent east-west cycle link between Newbury and Windsor and improve journey times, reliability and journey quality for cyclists.
It adds that it will improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians by improving cycling infrastructure and connectivity and that extensive work has been undertaken to ensure the mechanisms for delivering the scheme are in place.
At a West Berkshire Council meeting last week, Ian Waters asked for confirmation of how the scheme will be funded.
He also asked for reassurances that none of the costs of construction or maintenance will be picked up by West Berkshire residents.
The council’s executive member for highways and transport, Jeanette Clifford, replied: “Thank you for drawing attention to this fantastic pan-Berkshire scheme.
“It is a cycle route starting here at Newbury, linking Theale, Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell and ending at Legoland from where there are other routes to Windsor.
“We see it being used for commuters and leisure seekers, taking people out of their cars and on to their bikes, getting fitter, happier – and it will be good for the environment too.
“Something like this can’t happen without investment, but we in West Berkshire are getting a very good deal.”
She added: “Our share in West Berkshire is £100,000 – about two per cent of the total.
“But this bill is not going to be picked up by West Berkshire council tax payers. It will be covered by Department for Transport money delegated to us.
“You’re right, the route will have to be maintained, but in West Berkshire the route largely follows the A4 so we will be maintaining that anyway.
“There will be extra lines and signs, but we will be smart about how we maintain them and doing it efficiently.
“People want to cycle, we want them to cycle. I presume you want people to be able to cycle. This route will make it easier and it is good value for West Berkshire.”
As part of the project, on-road cycle lane markings and direction signage will need to be put in place between Thatcham and Theale
According to WSP, almost 250,000 residents can access the route within a five-minute cycle of their home.