REVISED plans for the Northern Distributor Road were condemned by residents at a stormy meeting on Wednesday, February 17.
Matt Davey, Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) Head of Highways & Transport, made a presentation about the new road which will connect the Coppid Beech roundabout with Winnersh, via Emmbrook and the new Matthewsgreen development.
The new plan is an amalgamation of routes A and C, rather than route B which 78% of residents had previously expressed a preference for in a 2013 consultation.
Attendees on the night expressed their frustration that the Council’s plans had changed and felt that their views had been neglected .
However, WBC’s Executive Member for Planning and Highway Cllr John Kaiser told The Wokingham Paper: “The suggestion that Wokingham Borough Council has ignored residents’ views over the major roads it will be delivering is, frankly, nonsense.”
He continued: “In North Wokingham we have been able to accommodate much of what local people wanted – the road will avoid most of Old Forest Road, which was a key concern for residents, it will avoid Warren House Lane completely. Both of these are changes brought about by the public consultations.
“Sadly, the Council’s detailed investigations have shown that it is not possible to meet the local aspiration of avoiding Toutley Road completely due to the unaffordable engineering work that would be required to deal with the large scale environmental impact of the route.”
Some of the revisions to the plans include improvements to Bell Foundry Lane instead of installing a roundabout, creating a new Millennium Arboretum and moving the Winnersh allotments.
To link Reading Road with the new road, a roundabout will be built, and there will also be a new railway bridge installed close by.
Four alternative routes have been considered to avoid Toutley Road, but Mr Davey told residents it would cost £5.3million to build the previous planned route but just £2.2m to build on the Toutley Road area.
“It’s just not viable for us to do,” Mr Davey said, on the original route. Speaking about the overall vision for the revised road scheme he told the meeting: “The Council has refined the route based on engineering and financial issues. The Executive and I think we have the solution to all major problems.”
Responding, Emmbrook Residents Association chairman Paul Gallagher, expressed his frustration at how long it had taken to organise the meeting.
To applause from the 450-strong crowd he said: “We have been asking for this meeting since last September. I think it’s disgraceful it has taken so long to be quite honest with you.”
Also responding was Steve Sansom from the Joel Park Residents Association.
He said: “Us residents have to deal with the disruption and upheaval as these plans take their lengthy course.
“Our guests from the council and the developers must respect that, for us, this is our home.”
The question time from residents overran by 30 minutes and issues raised included flooding, moving trees, the play areas and traffic from construction lorries.