Recommendation: Conditional Approval
Proposal: Full application for the construction of a 2.3 KM Arborfield Cross Relief Road (including shared use pathway) linking A327 Reading Road in the north and A327 Eversley Road in the south east. The proposal includes two new roundabout junctions link to the existing road network along the A327, a new staggered priority junction at Swallowfield Road and a new shared-use (non-motorised user) bridge where Arborfield Footpath 17 intersects the proposed relief road.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council C/O WSP
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 11 to 63.
Sam Goss, Wokingham Borough Council, applicant spoke in favour of the application. He highlighted that the application would assist the delivery of the Council’s Core Strategy.
David Horton, resident, spoke in objection to the application. He indicated that residents of Arborfield Court had concerns regarding noise as the road would run close to their homes. Residents wanted to ensure that the best sound screening materials and low noise road surfaces were used. Mr Horton questioned whether the speed limit could be reduced from 50mph to 40mph as it was felt that 50mph was overly high if trying to cross at the staggered junction. He also raised concerns regarding security as the road ran directly along the border of several gardens. A secure barrier was requested. Mr Horton also asked that should the quality of the water supply of Arborfield Court be impacted by the construction that the applicant would undertake to dig a new well or attach the properties to the main water supply.
Gary Cowan, Ward Member spoke in favour of the application and raised the possibility of the use of bunds. He commented that existing trees should only be removed as a last resort. He emphasised that the use of low noise road surface materials was important and that the water supply of Arborfield Court should be monitored to ensure that it was not negatively impacted.
In response to Members’ questions regarding noise, Officers clarified that there would be an acoustic fence by Arborfield Court. A proposed condition required that further details of the acoustic barrier be submitted to the Local Planning Authority prior to construction and approved in writing. In addition the Committee was informed that the low noise road surface was more effective at higher speeds. Bunds had been considered earlier in the application process but detailed noise modelling had suggested that bunding would have little impact on noise reduction.
With regards to the speed limit, the Service Manager, Highways Development Management indicated that conversations had been had with Thames Valley Police and that 50mph had been considered more appropriate. A higher speed limit on the ACRR, as proposed, resulted in a more attractive route to through traffic which would assist in directing more cars away from the Arborfield Cross. In response to a Member question, the Service Manager, Highways and Development Management explained the proposed advantages for the use of a staggered junction with Swallowfield Road as opposed to a roundabout for this road scheme.
With regards to the security of the Arborfield Court properties, there would be a fence along the length of the road.
The Planning Officer indicated that an environmental statement had indicated that there was unlikely to be an impact on the water supply of Arborfield Court as a result of the construction. However, the applicant would monitor the water levels in the vicinity and if it could be demonstrated that there was a negative impact as a result of construction they would enter into a dialogue regarding solutions.
A Member questioned whether any of the six trees proposed for removal were veteran trees. The Planning Officer confirmed that they were but their removal was necessary.
In response to a Member question, the Service Manager, Highways and Development Management explained why it was forecast that assessments were carried out up to 2026, which was identified as 7 years after the opening year of the development. The current Local Plan period ran to 2026 where the Core Strategy had identified that the ACRR was required to mitigate development within this current period, and that the next local plan, 2026 onwards which had not yet been identified, would address housing growth, transport mitigation post 2026.
Members felt that there should be specific reference in the conditions to the use of low noise tarmac. It was proposed that condition 3 be amended to reflect this and the wording be agreed by the Chairman and Vice Chairman.
RESOLVED: That application 172209 be approved subject to the conditions set out in Agenda pages 12 to 17 and the amendment of condition 3 to specify the use of low noise tarmac. The wording of amended condition 3 to be agreed by the Chairman and the Vice Chairman.