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Thatcham Town Council allocates £12,000 to fight 2,500-home traffic impact

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THATCHAM Town Council has set aside £12,000 to challenge claims that building 2,500 homes in the town will have no impact on local roads.

West Berkshire Council has proposed north east Thatcham, from the top of Floral Way to the A4 and into Midgham parish, for the development in its Local Plan review and includes two primary schools and a secondary school.

A council assessment has said that there will be no adverse impact on local roads, despite an initial report saying that improvements were needed.

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

The council is assessing feedback on the proposals and the next step, publishing the responses before submitting them to the Planning Inspectorate, is expected in October.

Parishes affected by the "Thatcham new town" have been coordinating their efforts to stop the development. Thatcham Town Council will assess the traffic impact, while Bucklebury will look at the environmental.

Town councillors voted last week to spend up to £12,000 on consultants to assess the impact of proposed developments "around Thatcham on the flow of traffic within and in the vicinity of Thatcham."

Thatcham housing development plans -Cox Lane looking towards Colthrop (45521387)
Thatcham housing development plans -Cox Lane looking towards Colthrop (45521387)

The advice will support the council's representations to the Planning Inspectorate on West Berkshire Council's final submission.

Proposing the motion, Simon Pike (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said the town council had a number of concerns and reservations and that having the money ready would enable the council to "push the button" when the study was needed.

Town council leader David Lister (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) said that traffic modelling that had been conducted was "inplausible or erroneous" because it had not considered Floral Way.

Furthermore, the council's highways team had said that Heath Lane and Bowling Green Road would not have the capacity to support the development of 2,500 homes.

Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521532)
Thatcham housing development plans - Floral Way (45521532)

It said that there would be a further knock on to traffic on the A4 and a new route to the north of Thatcham would be needed.

"Six months on and now we have an assessment that says there's no traffic congestion or problems on the A4," Mr Lister said.

Paul Field (Green, Thatcham Central) said: "Is it because they are inept, or is it something more nefarious like a Tate and Lyle study that says sugar is good for you?"

Mr Lister said that the council was at risk of not producing a sound plan that would cause problems in the future, similar to the situation at Sandleford Park in Newbury.

He said the district council had failed to show what measures would be put in place to cope with the additional traffic.

He said: "This magical mitigation tree will take care of this. Some mitigation fairy will come along and move all the traffic. What's the solution, is it teleportation? It's not going to be a tunnel or a bridge so we need to understand what this mitigation will be."

Town and district councillor Jeremy Cottam (Lib Dem, Thatcham North East) said that meetings with district council officers had shown that they were not concerned by the traffic impact.

He said: "The reaction I got was there's no concern on behalf of the district council on this.

"I think it's absolutely critical that if they are not going to do it, we must. This is going to have a disastrous affect and we will see junction failures. Floral Way was built for 1,000 homes and they are proposing to do nothing for 2,500."

His Lib Dem colleague Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central) added: "I think West Berkshire Council is in denial about the results of their proposals for the Thatcham new town of 2,500 properties. If they will not be responsible and do the correct traffic research that they should be doing right now, then, very sadly, this council must do it instead."

Funding for the traffic study will come from the council's reserves.

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