TRADERS have said West Berkshire Council’s amended proposals for a new A339 junction on to Cheap Street are an improvement on the original plans which would have seen on-street parking removed.
The new plans were approved by the council’s executive committee following a public consultation during which fears were raised over the impact a lack of parking would have on local businesses.
Business owners said they were pleased the council had taken their opinions on board, however, some still raised concerns at the plans.
Empire Cafe owner Wendy Berkeley feared a possible build-up of traffic at the new traffic signal-controlled junction at Market Street, and added that the disruption caused by the works could lead to a drop in business.
“They’ve listened,” she said. “They’ve retained the parking, so it’s a little bit better, but we’ll still have all the disruption when the work starts.
“It is an improvement, but at the same time they could have done Cheap Street a real favour and gone back to the free parking. Certainly having to pay does deter people.”
Owner of fancy dress shop Pageant Party Lionel Zeffertt said: “It’s certainly better than what they had, but it’s still not ideal.
“I don’t honestly see the need for the new A339 junction when you could have traffic go down to the Burger King, around and back up – maybe it’s pollution.
“Only time will tell how it will affect Cheap Street.”
Speaking at the meeting of the council executive, member for highways Jeanette Clifford (Con, Northcroft) said: “You have before you a good scheme, designed, modelled and evaluated by experts, and tested and improved by the input of residents.”
Referring to public consultation, which led to the plans being amended, she said: “The point made with the greatest force was a call to retain parking on Cheap Street.
“Cheap Street offers a unique range of shops and services and makes a contribution to the character and life of the town centre.
“We at West Berkshire looked at the evidence and came up with a way to keep the traffic benefits of the scheme while retaining the parking.
“I hope this case shows that we at the council take consultations seriously and genuinely value views of residents. There are always trade-offs, but we listen respectfully to everyone and take all views into the balance.”
Councillors unanimously approved the scheme, which is expected to begin in February 2018 and take around nine months to complete.