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Residents deserve more information over 2,500-home plan for Thatcham

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A THATCHAM councillor has said that residents deserve more information on how roads will cope from a planned 2,500-home development in the town.

West Berkshire Council has selected land at north east Thatcham for the homes, new primary schools and secondary school in its local plan.

The council's Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (Helaa) 2020 identified the need for significant improvements to roads in north Thatcham, including Heath Lane and new routes, owing to the significant volumes of additional traffic from the proposed development.

Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521441)
Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521441)

The council's planning policy manager Bryan Lyttle had said that a relief road around the north of the homes would not be possible, nor a bridge over the railway and waterways.

Lee Dillon (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said that new routes were needed as the existing ones were "already dangerous as the residential lanes are being used as a rat-run to avoid the A4".

He said: "What has changed since 2020, or has the council failed to perform a traffic assessment for this area?"

The council's executive member for planning, transport and countryside, Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook), said that the council had not failed to conduct the assessment, and the Helaa was the first stage.

Lee Dillon (46611249)
Lee Dillon (46611249)

He said that the council had produced detailed traffic models for Thatcham and Newbury to further assess the proposed impact of the 2,500 homes, and mitigation packages would be informed by transport modelling.

Mr Somner added: "New routes will only be planned where there is a clear need, and a robust business case to support them.

"Currently there are no new routes proposed for the north Thatcham area."

Mr Dillon asked: "Would you accept that new roads or significant improvements will be required if there is to be a Thatcham new town built?"

Mr Somner replied: "I would accept that if the planning indicates there are, and the assessments matched that, it will be part of the process that is followed.

"But I can't sit here and say I've identified a certain route that needs to be provided because clearly I'm not qualified in that area."

Richard Somner (48307298)
Richard Somner (48307298)

Mr Dillon asked whether mitigation measures to alleviate traffic congestion from the 2,500 homes on the A4, Floral Way, Heath Lane, and Bowling Green Road would be made public in advance of the next consultation stage.

Mr Somner said the next assessment would provide an indication of possible mitigation packages, and would not form the full details.

"How can residents give a considered opinion without having those mitigation measures to comment upon?" Mr Dillon asked.

Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521437)
Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521437)

Mr Somner replied: "My honest answer is I will need to come back to you with any clarification."

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dillon said: "We wanted some factual responses, so for us it said it all.

"We can't understand how you can ask residents for their views without giving them the information about how it will impact the town and wider area.

"Because they have an issue with Grazeley, they have rushed through a major site selection in North Thatcham.

"Residents deserve to understand that impact and yet again have been refused key information."

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