Recommendation: Conditional approval.
Proposal: Full application for a section of the Northern Distributor Road through Ashridge Farm, linking Bell Foundry Lane to the west with Kentwood Farm to the east, incorporating a new priority junction on Bell Foundry Lane and associated works including a shared footway/cycleway.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council C/O WSP
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 15 to 44. The Committee were advised that there were no Members’ Updates.
Clare Williams, WSP, spoke in support of the application. Clare stated that this scheme was approved by Executive decision in 2015, and the scheme before the Committee was the best possible alignment including with regards to trees, natural habitats and the nearby listed building. Clare added that the plans had taken on board comments from Natural England and as a result additional planting would take place along the stretch of road. Clare stated that the entire length of the northern distributor road would include a shared pedestrian and cycle path. Clare commented that the planting and landscaping improvements to the area would result in a net gain in habitat and biodiversity, and concluded that the scheme would provide a safe and functional route for walkers, motorists and cyclists.
Simon Weeks commented that this application was a critical component of the northern distributer road, which was due to be completed in 2021.
Malcolm Richards queried how the modelling had shown a reduction in usage along Warren House Road. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, clarified that the proposed new section of road would move some of the vehicle flow away from Warren House Road.
Angus Ross commented that despite increasing the number of trees within the area, more consideration needed to be made to the carbon offset each tree provided, with a large tree offsetting more carbon than several smaller trees. Simon Weeks commented that smaller trees had a much higher survival rate when moved than a larger and more mature tree. The Biodiversity Officer had previously stated that biodiversity would be increased as a result of this application and the scheme adhered to Natural England’s metrics.
RESOLVED That application 191010 be approved subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 16 to 24.