Wokingham Borough Council is providing a new Safe Route to School to provide a continuous path for Finchampstead pupils to walk to the new Bohunt School in Arborfield. The route is along Nine Mile Ride, Park Lane and Byway 18 (Hogwood Lane).
The borough council’s Core Strategy identifies Arborfield Garrison as a Strategic Development Location (SDL) to provide 3,500 new homes, along with new employment, retail facilities, transport, and social and physical infrastructure. This includes a new secondary school, the Bohunt School Wokingham, with a capacity of 1,500 pupils.
The planning requirement for the new Bohunt School necessitates an improved pedestrian route to deliver a Safe Route to School between the existing Nine Mile Ride and the new Bohunt School via Park Lane, Hogwood Lane and Byway 18.
This means that the existing footway on the north side of Nine Mile Ride will be improved by a combination of cutting back overhanging vegetation, relocation of street furniture and some localised areas of footway widening and resurfacing. The route will then turn north along Park Lane, crossing over to the south side of the road part way along. The route then turns left onto Hogwood Lane, on the south side of the road. There will be point where pedestrians can safely cross where Hogwood Lane meets Byway 18. The route then follows the byway to the school.
Construction on the footway is set to begin by May, with some vegetation clearance possibly taking place earlier. The project is scheduled to be complete by the beginning of September 2017. Unfortunately there may be some lane closures and temporary disruption along the Nine Mile Ride during the works. Visit the road works page on our website for a map of all current road works.
Residents who live along the Nine Mile Ride will be contacted shortly with more information about the works that will take place during the summer and how they can contact the council about any issues they may have during this time.
The council is aware that in the past it has shared an aspiration with some local residents and parents from the school to enhance this route to a shared cycleway scheme and residents will also be aware of the council’s commitment to sustainability and cycle routes across the borough. However, recent detailed design work on the scheme has shown that the implementation of a path wide enough to accommodate a safe walking route and cycle route would require significantly more construction works, including the removal of a number of mature trees and established hedgerows as well as having a dramatic impact on the established character of the local area. Therefore, at this time the council needs to be pragmatic about what it is able to provide and still meet its planning obligations for the new Safe Route to School. However, the council will continue to consider and evaluate the practicalities of delivering a cycle way in the area.
“There are many benefits when pupils are able to walk to school including improved health and motivation levels for the students; improved access to the school for parents, students, staff and visitors; and improved local air quality, less traffic noise, and reduced traffic congestion for the local community,” said Cllr Malcolm Richards, executive member for highways and transport.
“This enhanced footway will give Finchampstead pupils a safe route to walk to the new Bohunt School and will give the local community a better footway to walk around Finchampstead.”
The council remains committed to support the ability for Bohunt pupils and other residents to be able to cycle to the school and in this area generally. To this end, in addition to the new Nine Mile Ride Safe Route to School, there will also be a new Greenways route which will be suitable for walking and cycling between Finchampstead, the Bohunt School and the rest of the development in Arborfield. Phase 1 of the Greenways project will connect the Finchampstead Baptist Centre to Arborfield via California Country Park.