Wokingham Borough Council has secured £2.75 million pounds of central government funding for a package of transport measures designed to change the way Wokingham Borough residents travel.
The council has also won an additional £868,000 as the lead partner in a multi-partner approach to improve tourism and leisure cycling activities.
The £2.75m funding comes from the second round of bidding from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) £560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which aims to deliver a programme of transport measures that directly support economic growth as well as cut carbon emissions.
The money will be used to deliver a package of interventions to encourage a change in the current travel behaviours of people using the length of the A329 corridor (6.7 miles), which runs through the middle of the borough from its boundary with Reading in the west to the boundary with Bracknell Forest in the east.
The DfT grant complements monies secured by both Reading Borough Council and Bracknell Forest Council to take a holistic approach to influencing the way people choose to travel.
The council will use the funds to:
- Make improvements at four major junctions along the A329 to reduce traffic congestion, journey times and emissions from queuing traffic
- Provide new pedestrian and cycling crossings and develop high quality branded walking and cycling routes linking residential areas, business parks, local centres and schools. Street furniture along the A329 will also be removed
- Invest in new information provision and waiting facilities at all bus stops along the A329 and adjoining areas.
- Continue to strengthen the council’s partnerships to implement business travel planning with major employers based at Thames valley Park, IQ Winnersh, Suttons Business Park, and employers within Wokingham Town Centre - covering approximately 5000 employees on the A329 corridor
- Deliver personal transport and travel advice to 12,000 households in Woodley, Earley, Winnersh and Wokingham town
The second £868,000 grant will support rail and cycling to access the Chiltern’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for tourism.
The successful bid developed with the CTC (Cycle Touring Club) is targeted and focuses on three gateways, selected for their potential impact as hubs for ‘car-free’ cycle-based tourism. The three areas covered include a southern gateway via Twyford, Henley-on-Thames, a central point of access via Great Missenden, Chesham, Amersham and a northerly point of access centred on Tring and Berkhamsted. The project will support tourism and leisure access out of the Chilterns into larger urban destinations.
Wokingham Borough Council is the leading partner for this project on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chilterns Conservation Board and the CTC.
Key to these successful bids has been the inclusion of committed partners actively supporting the measures outlined in the council’s bids. Partners have given written commitment to providing resources and funding to the process as it is delivered.
Partners involved in the development of these successful bids and their subsequent delivery include First Great Western, First Buses, Stagecoach Group, Reading Transport Limited and sustainable transport specialists such as the CTC and Walk England.
The process has also benefited from strong local political and business community support. The bid has been endorsed by the leader of the council and the borough chief executive as well as receiving support from Reading Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Council’s, Wokingham Business Skills and Enterprise Partnership and the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Economic Partnership.
Executive member for transport Cllr Keith Baker said: "I am delighted with the outcome of this bidding process.
"The funding will allow the council to deliver a programme of measures that can help our local economy stay competitive in challenging economic times.
"The quality of the bids submitted demonstrates that the council is serious in addressing economic growth and climate change. Furthermore the funding will allow the council to pursue its aim of reducing congestion by making residents more aware of the sustainable travel options available to them.
Elements of the bid to be delivered are:
- Improved Real Time Information at bus stops
- Modernisation of traffic signals along the corridor introducing new MOVA technology which will manage congestion more efficiently
- Improved information, signing and safety measures to encourage walking and cycling
- A cycle officer to deliver projects that already have proven success, increasing the overall number of cyclists and targeting teenagers and students using the A329 corridor to access secondary schools or Reading University
- An online car share portal
- Introducing secondary school bike clubs to increase levels of cycling and workplace challenges to encourage those making the transition from study to work to consider cycling as a valid means of getting to work
- Business travel plans, based on the successful park-wide plan currently managed at Thames Valley Park
- Developing personal travel plans as part of the council’s ‘Community Conversations’ in specific areas of the borough
- Station travel plans for Earley, Winnersh Triangle, Winnersh and Wokingham stations, implementing improved signage and access, cycle parking and passenger information. This would coincide with the planned redevelopment of Wokingham station