Following rejection of the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system alongside the Thames by Wokingham Borough Council, a revised proposal is being prepared by Reading Borough Council for publication in the autumn..
WBC rejection was based on contravention of established environmental policy.
Their official reason for refusal was as follows:
“The proposed MRT link, including bridge structure, due to its height and scale and its prominent and sensitive location, particularly its proximity to the River Thames and River Kennet, would be harmful to the landscape character of the area including its riparian appearance. This would be contrary to policies CP1, CP3 and CP11 of the Core Strategy.”
At the Wokingham planning meeting the visual impact of a concrete viaduct at this picturesque and peaceful location was denounced by nearly all the speakers. Those proposing the scheme claimed that the benefits would offset the environmental impact, but as the impact on road traffic was negligible and appeared principally to benefit one of the park and ride buses, this argument lacked credibility. In the words of one Councillor, it was neither ‘mass’ nor ‘rapid’, unlike similarly titled schemes in other cities which used trams or light railways.
ACER awaits with interest the new proposals from Reading Borough Council, but, unless the scheme addresses the log jam of 33 thousand vehicles a day going in and out of east Reading with a proper mass transit system, it is unlikely to bring relief from rat running to Whitegates residents, or speed up most journeys into Reading. The design of the viaduct, if needed, would probably be best left to Brunel to provide an elegant solution to complement his existing bridge, but sadly he passed away over 100 years ago.