Mon, 15 Feb 2021
WHAT would “the single largest development in West Berkshire’s living memory” - 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham - provide for the town?
Masterplanning documents drawn up by David Lock Associates and Stantec outline infrastructure from developing the homes.
The documents are not a planning application and do not represent a final design should the development go ahead.
The report outlines two primary schools, one three-form entry and the other two-form, and an eight-form secondary school.
The documents do not propose the developers pay for the full cost of the secondary school.
Safeguarding land for the secondary school presents three scenarios, the first being a completely new school for pupils living on the new development and those who would otherwise travel to Trinity School.
The second option would be a second campus for Kennet School, such as a sixth form centre, to free up space at the Stoney Lane site.
The third, and “unlikely scenario”, is that Kennet relocates to the new site and expands up to 14-form entry, however this would require more land than is currently allocated.
The masterplan assumes that the secondary school would be delivered in phases, potentially beginning with a four-form entry school or Sixth Form only, and expanding later.
Early concepts show the new school located near Colthrop or within Siege Cross near the A4 and Floral Way.
A town loop bus service is proposed to enhance public transport to the northern part of the site and to connect the site with the railway station.
Eight access points are listed in the masterplan, including altering the Harts Hill Road/Floral Way roundabout to a traffic light or priority junction, an additional arm on A4/Pipers Way roundabout, a priority junction at A4/Colthrop Lane primarily to provide bus access into local centre, and redirected access from A4/Gables Way roundabout.
The document later develops on two other approaches to accessing the site.
Option one features access to Dunston Park at the northern end of the site, vehicle access to Colthrop village via the crematorium entrance and bus access via Colthrop Lane.
Option two provides access to Dunston Park halfway along Floral Way, with vehicle access to Colthrop village via the A4 and a new roundabout, with a bus-only gate at the crematorium.
Travel improvements on routes between the development, town centre and railway station are also outlined.
Housing, environment and community
Up to 1,000 affordable homes with the provision for 75 of the 2,500 homes for self-build plots.
The masterplan anticipates that due to the de-carbonisation of home heating, most of the homes would not be connected to the gas grid.
It adds that electric charging points on-street and in new houses should be fitted as standard, especially for apartment buildings where otherwise it might be difficult.
The council’s transport and planning policy officer Bryan Lyttle said: “By the time that north east Thatcham is developed we will have stopped buying petrol and diesel cars.
“The only cars available to buy will be electric, so we have to plan for that now and that all helps with our carbon reduction.”
Development must prioritise environmentally sustainable methods of transport, minimising the carbon emissions associated with private car usage, as well as the air pollution which affects the A4 in Thatcham.
“Walking, cycling and public transport must become the natural choices for getting around,” the document states.
Local centres would provide local retail, facilities and small-scale employment space.
Playing fields and multi-use games areas would be included with the intention of being for community use.
A “new strategic country park for the whole town, linking Thatcham to the plateau and AONB above the slopes”, is also suggested.
Approximately 50 per cent of the site can be retained as green open space.