Residents, businesses and community groups across Wokingham borough have been thanked for sharing their views on proposals to improve the area’s walking and cycling links in the long term.
Wokingham Borough Council is now analysing the comments it received on its draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which it consulted on between 11 July and 2 October. It is grateful for the overwhelming response to the consultation, which it extended twice over the summer and publicised widely online and in local media to ensure everyone had the chance to take part.
It received almost 4,500 written comments and 7,546 responses overall, which was far higher than expected and among the largest responses it has ever recorded for a survey of this type.
The plan will outline a network of key active travel routes around the borough as well as suggesting improvements like new cycleways, improved crossings and more in specific neighbourhoods, which could be rolled out over the next decade or so.
The council is strongly supportive of this as it strives to improve air quality and residents' physical and mental wellbeing, as well as tackling the climate emergency by doing all it can to make Wokingham borough a net-zero carbon producer by the end of the decade.
Laying groundwork for improvements
Crucially, as the council seeks to help residents with the growing cost of living while finding savings to meet its own rising costs and protect essential services, these improvements would need to be largely funded by outside sources and not by the taxpayer.
Feedback from the consultation will be made public after being compiled and analysed. It will help to inform any changes to the document, which will always remain open to further amendments.
None of the ideas set out in the plan would go ahead without further assessment and consultation, and nor is any Government funding set aside for them, but the council is producing the plan now as it means the Government will be more likely to provide any funds that might become available in future.
The council will rank the proposals in order of priority according to set criteria including effectiveness, economy and feasibility before seeking funding. This could also come from developers building new homes in the area but most is expected to come from successful bids through Active Travel England, a Department for Transport agency.
Helping us to help you get more active
Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We're very pleased that so many people took an interest in this, thanks in part to our proactive efforts to raise awareness, and we’ll work to process this massive volume of feedback as quickly as we can.
“The plan will be published before too long, putting us in a strong position to apply for funding to bring these schemes forward, but residents should be assured that nothing will ever be set in stone. These proposals can always be changed as circumstances require, and this wasn't the final chance to speak up as we would consult those who might be affected before trying to progress anything further.
“By providing more opportunities to leave the car at home, we can reduce congestion on the borough's roads as well as cutting carbon emissions and other harmful pollutants.
“Walking and cycling are also far more affordable than driving - and with the rising cost of living at the forefront of everyone's minds, we hope this also shows our commitment to helping residents through challenging times.”
A range of schemes to keep people moving
This summer, the council also sought people's views on revised plans for an active travel route between Woodley town centre and Reading borough at Palmer Park.
This had been amended to reflect people's views from an earlier consultation, especially concerns over plans for a one-way system on part of Woodlands Avenue which was removed.
Feedback from this is also being processed and further information will become available shortly.
The council is also working to:
It will soon be carrying out some early engagement work on its latest Local Transport Plan, an overarching strategy covering all ways of getting around, and will make further announcements soon.
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