Local Transport Plan 4

Submission from ACER, The Whitegates Residents Association

Following a constructive meeting with WBC and their consultants on 19th September, chaired by ETC, please find below a summary of the points raised by ACER at the meeting.

Geographical Significance

Whitegates is a district of Earley located on the eastern side of Reading and is therefore a main gateway into Reading, although it comes under the jurisdiction of Wokingham Borough Council.

There are 35,000 vehicles a day coming in and out of Reading to the east. The obvious route into Reading from the east is the A329M/A3290 and then along the A4 into Reading town centre, however traffic along the main roads often moves at a crawl due to bottlenecks at major junctions, such as Cemetery Junction and  the one- way traffic over the Kennet River, used in turn by both incoming and outgoing traffic.

Regular commuters therefore seek alternative routes into Reading, notably the A329 from Wokingham plus any and every conceivable rat run through Whitegates.

The indigenous population of Whitegates, therefore find it increasingly difficult to move around Whitegates in order to get to work, get to schools and get to any appointments, due to congestion caused by traffic going in and out of Reading.

Transport Issue Examples

The following examples were highlighted at the ETC meeting on 19th September:

  1. The traffic light phasing at the Three Tuns junction of the A329 appears to have been changed recently in favour of traffic within the borough of Reading, resulting in longer queues along Church Road and Woodlands Avenue, both of which are in Earley, and therefore no concern of Reading.
  • Parents trying to cross Church Road and Woodlands Avenue have reported having to take calculated risks when walking their children to school due to the absence of safe crossing places.  The pedestrian crossing in Woodlands Avenue is a long way from the junction of Church Road and moving it closer would offer a safer alternative than dodging cars focussed on expediting their passage along the roads. Pavements are too narrow for buggies and children  at some points, bringing young children too close to traffic
  • Speeding  along several roads in Whitegates  frequently occurs outside the rush hour times. This occurs in both side streets and the main roads. Skid marks over 20 paces long have been photographed in the past.  Residents suggestions to reduce the incidents of speeding  by blocking off Milton Road to traffic from Erleigh Court Gardens have not been taken up.  The basic green 30 mph warning sign in Pitts Lane does not appear to be effective and does not give an indication of actual speed, such as the slightly humorous one installed in Thames Valley Business Park.
  • Cars parked near junctions both reduce visibility and can reduce the road to a single cars width, leading to more accidents at junctions in particular.  ACER has responded constructively to a paper on the introduction of double yellow lines at several  junctions in Whitegates.  This is attached for your consideration.
  • The increase in car ownership as older properties are enlarged, has not been matched by increased provision for parking, in fact the converse is usually true. It is commonplace for a 3 bed semi  with garage and off road parking for two cars to be enlarged to four or 5 bedrooms plus garage conversion.  The increase in occupants leads to an increase in car ownership  to 4 or more cars associated with the property, while the off road parking reduces to two spaces. The result is greatly increased parking on roads and loss of green front gardens to accommodate more cars.  Having only two allocated spaces off road is acceptable to Highways.  The guide to Highways is in Appendix 2 of WBC MDD(Local Plan) which comprise tables produced for guidance for “new developments”.  There is no specific guidance on parking requirements when existing properties are enlarged or converted to HMO’s.  ACER produced a paper  “Management of Parking in Residential Areas” which concerns existing housing estates.  This was submitted  in February 2019 and is attached for your consideration
  • The new park and ride at the entrance is going ahead despite cancellation of the proposed new MRT bus route to Reading.  The capacity of circa 250 vehicles is insignificant compared with the traffic flow in and out of east Reading , which is a mean of 1000 vehicles an hour, each way, beween 7am and 7pm.  The value of this P&R facility is therefore questionable.
  • Cars are essential to many for commuting, shopping, attending appointments and recreational purposes.  Regular shorter distance journeys are best served by public transport, when it is available. No one likes driving in traffic jams.  There is far less incentive to own and/or use a car in cities like London with good and varied  public transport connections

SUMMARY

Transport in Earley needs to be dealt with as a whole and in particular in conjunction with Reading.

Safer walking routes to schools are required with better separation of pedestrians and traffic.

On- street parking is rapidly increasing due to development of existing housing stock.  A management policy for parking in existing housing estates needs to be agreed and implemented for safety and environmental reasons.

Tim Marsh

Vice Chair, ACER, The Whitegates Residents Association

24th September 2019