A new traffic-free walking and cycling route could be built between Twyford and Charvil if a funding bid by Wokingham Borough Council is successful.
The authority, which wants to improve its active travel links as part of a wider pledge to tackle air pollution and the climate emergency, is seeking a multi-million pound contribution towards the scheme from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
This would go towards a 1.4km off-road route between Twyford railway station and Charvil via the Loddon Nature Reserve and Charvil Country Park.
The path would run parallel to the railway, along the northern side of the track, and provide alternative access to the station and Twyford town centre for many people who don’t have a safe, direct way of walking or riding there.
Work would have to finish by March 2026 to meet funding requirements but the aim would be to finish sooner.
Extending access across the whole borough
The route would eventually form part of a proposed link between Twyford and the borough’s western boundary at Palmer Park, on the outskirts of Reading, via Charvil and Woodley.
This is outlined in the council’s borough-wide draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, a strategic document which it consulted on over the summer and will publish soon. This sets out various improvements that could be made in the long term, subject to outside funding and further consultation.
The council also recently consulted on revised proposals for the Woodley to Reading section of the route, which would be built with significant funding from Active Travel England, and it will evaluate the proposed design in more detail before announcing the next steps.
By creating active travel links between these communities and to rail connections to London, Reading and beyond, the council is doing all it can to reduce the number of car journeys on the borough’s roads and promote more sustainable ways of getting around.
On top of reducing air pollution in areas like Twyford, which it has designated an Air Quality Management Area, as well as carbon emissions, this will address the root causes of congestion and make healthier travel more affordable at a time of rising living costs.
The council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has pledged to do all it can to help Wokingham borough become a net-zero carbon producer by the end of this decade.
A realistic vision for reducing car journeys
Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways, said: “We’re pleased to have taken the first step in making the route from Twyford to Charvil a reality and very much hope that our application will be successful.
“It will have benefits for many residents, from those who live in the area and want to make onward trips by train, to those further afield when it becomes part of our growing network of high-quality, borough-wide walking and cycling routes.
“We know some people don’t feel safe riding on the main road in that area, and it’s vital that we find ways to make active forms of travel more comfortable and attractive if we’re going to make a serious contribution towards reducing congestion and environmentally harmful emissions.”
The council is working on all fronts to promote sustainable travel, with other initiatives including the ongoing rollout of electric vehicle charging points and efforts to support local bus networks as operators grapple with the financial impact of the covid pandemic.
It will soon be conducting some early consultation as it starts to draft its new Local Transport Plan, which will set policies on all forms of transport and will look to promote healthy and environmentally friendly measures as much as possible
The Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund invests in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, supporting a range of transport, cultural, heritage and regeneration schemes.
A share of funding towards the Twyford-Charvil path would also come from developers building new homes in the area, under legal agreements linked to their planning permissions.
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