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EXCLUSIVE Two bridges and 700 homes coming to Thatcham?

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Major development includes sports complex, housing, football pitch and new school

After more than 40 years of discussion and debate a long-awaited bridge to bypass Thatcham’s level crossing may at last be in the pipeline – but at the cost of a major new 700 home development, the Newbury Weekly News can reveal.

Developer, the Colthrop Village Consortium, is heading up the proposed mixed use project which plans 700 homes, a 100-berth marina, a sports complex, playing fields and a new primary school.

If successful, two new road bridges would form part of the development sited to the south of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Colthrop Mill and Station Road.

According to the developers – a consortium made up of waste management firm Grundon and members of the Henry family – the first bridge would be a double-span bridge crossing both the railway line and Kennet and Avon Canal, accessing Pipers Lane.

The second smaller bridge would cross the River Kennet to the south, providing access to the development via Crookham Hill.

Developers have also reportedly expressed an intention to widen parts of Crookham Hill into a dual carriageway as possible mitigation for any increase in traffic and also provide an improved towpath and cycleway, and enhanced pedestrian and cycle access to the River Kennet.

Thatcham town councillor Jeff Brooks (Lib Dem, Thatcham West) argued, however, that the plans on a greenfield site would put an unsustainable pressure on Thatcham and represented overdevelopment and urban sprawl.

He said: “It is over-development of the town.

“It is another huge number of houses and I cannot support it.

“I would not wish to support it. What I am worried about is overdevelopment and the town not coping with it.

“I am not supporting a bridge if it’s going to lead to more homes.

“I can, however, understand drivers sitting in the traffic jams wondering when their bridge will be built.”

Vice chairman of the Greenham and Crookham Commons Commission, Chris Austin, said that although the bridge over Thatcham’s level crossing was an “essential piece of infrastructure” any plans would need careful scrutiny for their impact on nearby common land.

He added: “There will be concerns of an increase in traffic and we would need to be certain that a new bridge didn’t lead to more traffic.”

Paul Woodbridge, a member of the Colthrop Village Consortium, could not confirm when a formal application would be submitted to West Berkshire Council.

He said: “Over the next few months, we will be working closely with the community, local stakeholders and councillors to develop our proposals.”

For more details, images of the plans and local reaction pick up a copy of this week's Newbury Weekly News on sale now.

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