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No plans for rail bridge in Thatcham in 2,500-home development proposal

Bridge would divert resources away from other infrastructure says assessment

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

No plans for rail bridge in Thatcham in 2,500-home development proposal

BUILDING 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham would not result in a bridge being built over the railway.

An assessment of the proposals said that a bridge would divert resources and developers’ contributions away from other infrastructure and community objectives.

West Berkshire Council has identified land from the top of Floral Way to Colthrop in its Local Plan Review.

The council has said that the north east of the town was the most logical place for development to help meet the district’s housing needs up to 2037.

It also said that a development of this scale would provide vital infrastructure, including new schools.

There have been calls for a bridge over the railway for decades, with people reporting waiting up to 40 minutes at the level crossing.

A masterplan prepared on behalf of the council said that a bridge was “an important and controversial local issue”, but there were a number of reasons why one would not be required with the proposed development.

The document, drawn up by David Lock Associates and Stantec, said that a bridge would undermine community objectives and goals for sustainable and active travel through a “significant piece of highways infrastructure, primarily for the benefit of private and commercial vehicles”.

It added that a bridge, like other new road infrastructure, typically resulted in more traffic that would not normally use the route, rather than relieve congestion.

A traffic assessment did not indicate the need to provide a bridge for the destinations that new residents would likely travel to.

It added that Crookham Hill was unsuited to handling the “increases in traffic and rat-running that a new bridge would inevitably bring”, which would require further costly upgrades to improve safety.

Finally, it said that building in other parts of Thatcham that would require a bridge to be built “would spend resources and contributions that could be better spent on improving active travel and public transport infrastructure throughout the town, which supports the community’s stated objectives on environmental sustainability”.

West Berkshire Council has previously said that a bridge would not be affordable without private or central government investment.

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Article comments

  • Grumpy

    04/02/2021 - 19:26

    It's a pity they didn't let the yanks build the bridge when they offered back in the 60's

    Reply

  • ohSmeg

    04/02/2021 - 16:43

    The rail crossing is far from the biggest issue with this development plan. They are concreting and tarmacking great volumes of land that currently absorb the surface water coming down the hill and deposits it into the water table safety. With this construction expect the A4 and south of Thatcham to be continuously flooded with any significant amount of rainfall from now on. It there any part of this project that is actually good for the town?

    Reply

  • Thatchamite

    04/02/2021 - 13:55

    As a resident that has to cross over into Thatcham most days it is an inconvenience to be stuck for upto 30 minutes waiting for a sequence of trains to pass. But a bridge would create a huge volume of traffic using the route as a short cut to Basingstoke which would overwhelm Crookham Hill and create serious risk of accidents as lorries would flout any weight restrictions. However, what does need to be investigated is why the manual operation of the gates at Thatcham station is so inconsistent. It is well understood that differernt rolling stock takes differernt times to stop in an emergency BUT I have noticed that very often for the same sequence of trains sometimes the gates are raised but often they are just left down. This causes huge frustration and having a consistently enforced approach would I believe make a significant difference during busy times. Also I understood these gates were to be automated as part of the electrification but seems that didnt happen either,

    Reply

    • Exhausted

      05/02/2021 - 09:27

      The gates are down for the minimum amount of time to allow safe operation of the railway and road. There are constant comments from users of the crossing who do not understand railway operation and signalling. There was no proposal to "automate" the crossing. This is not possible for a crossing with this traffic density.

      Reply

      • Thatchamite

        06/02/2021 - 11:13

        Firstly, it was most definitely in the plan to automate and whilst I am no particular expert (although a long time ago I was a 'secondman' which means if you know about the permanant way you will know what that is and traffic density here is much less than many other places that are automated. Finally, and most importantly, there is no impact of increasing the time the gates are left down between a sequence of trains on the trains BUT of course there is on the 1km recorded traffic queue which would be reduced significantly if automation made sure that if there were time to raise the gates safely they could be. On any given day its relatively easy to measure and see for the same sequence of trains, for example. HST that the gates are often just left down between rather than raising even for a couple of minutes. Automation would at least resolve the argument for good. Either way if WBC allow another 2,500 homes to be dumped on Thatcham there will end up being gridlock every day.

        Reply

  • starsky

    04/02/2021 - 12:59

    Perhaps the developers can further reduce car usage by replacing the canal bridge, adjacent to the level crossing, with a ferry.

    Reply

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