Barkham Bridge – update from John Kaiser, WBC councillor for Barkham (07714192352)
The Barkham Bridge project consists of a new bridge structure across the Barkham Brook and approximately 300 metres of associated carriageway realignment. The current Barkham Bridge is a highway structure along B3349 Barkham Road, operating on a priority give-way system. It will be retained and be converted to a shared footway/cycleway, connecting the sections of footway to the east and west. The new bridge is to be constructed south of the existing Barkham Bridge within private land. The improvements are in order to accommodate continuous flow 2-way traffic which are needed in order to alleviate a potentially dangerous choke point and help ease congestion.
As part of the project scope, the council have included the refurbishment of the existing highway drainage system leading up to School Road. In addition, the project team is aware of the condition of the existing Thames Water main on Barkham Road and will likely have to divert a section of this as part of the bridge works. They will explore opportunities with Thames Water to look at the water main beyond the project scope, particularly, in light of the burst pipes in mid-August 2018. This means the site will occupy a considerably larger footprint than would be expected just to deliver the bridge.
Confirmation from the Planning Authority in February 2017 concluded that the improvements were considered permitted development under the Town & Country Planning Act and did not require a planning application. Preliminary design work was completed and agreed in March 2018 which proposed a new off-line bridge to the south of the existing structure to provide 2-way traffic on Barkham Road, removing the existing bottle neck. As the project has developed since February 2017, we recently sought confirmation of this permitted development based on the scheme layout.
Balfour Beatty has started the work after undertaking some ground investigation works which included feedback from Thames Water and the Environment Agency, to inform the detailed design of the bridge structure and further survey works will be on-going to inform the design.
There is a communications plan and list of key stakeholders with Balfour Beatty to allow them to take forward on-going project updates, more details can be found on Wokingham Borough website at https://www.wokingham.gov.uk/roadworks-and-outdoor-maintenance/major-new-roads/barkham-bridge/
Construction starts in autumn 2019 and is due to open for traffic in spring 2021.
Barkham Bridge is part of the £124m Highways Programme delivered under the SCAPE Procurement Framework which includes the Arborfield Cross Relief Road, Barkham Bridge improvements, Winnersh Relief Road - Phase 2, Lower Earley Way Dualling and three projects which form the South Wokingham Distributor Road, Eastern Gateway, Spine Road and Western Gateway.
Satellite view of the area
Map showing the old and new road layout
Wokingham Borough Council will on the 22 November 2018 at 7.00pm be debating the substantial Petition submitted on 20 September, reflecting the concerns of over 4000 residents about over-development in the Barkham area, and in particular any impending plans for up to 1000 houses on Barkham Square.
This is the largest petition ever presented to WBC. Given the strength of feeling from residents, a clear message needs to be given to the Borough that this is not sustainable and 'Enough is Enough'.
Prior and separate to the Debate itself, there will be a 30 minute period allocated for questions from the Public. These will take the form of written questions submitted in advance by residents. To set the scene for the debate a number of Barkham residents have already taken this opportunity to submit certain relevant questions which will be read out and answered by the Executive Members.
Everyone is welcome to attend this full Borough Council meeting and your support will be much appreciated. This is scheduled to take place at WBC's offices at Shute End on 22 November starting at the earlier time of 7.00 pm. Given the ongoing building works outside of WBC, there are various other parking spaces within reasonable proximity, with the closest being Denmark Street car park, Rose Street car park or the Carnival multi-storey, all of which offer free parking after 6.00pm. Please note that the Elms Road multi-storey closes at 6.30pm.
Barkham Parish Council/ Barkham Village Residents Association
It is with great sadness that we announce that our Committee Secretary Pam Edwards passed away on 20th July 2019, after a short illness. She has been a driving force behind the BVRA since its inception and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.
As co-founder of the organization which was formed by herself and Christine Thomas in 1987 to raise awareness of the threat of development in The Coombes, which then became the BVRA, she has been a major part of the community for many years. A keen bridge player, quilter and talented crafter who was always willing to give her time to run cardmaking sessions with the Barkham Ladies Club. She was active with so many groups, she will be sorely missed.
Petition to the Leader of Wokingham Borough Council and Executive Member(s) responsible for Planning
The petition has now closed with 2429 signatures on-line and over 1600 on paper forms. Thank you for your support.
This has vastly exceeded our target of 1500 and the petition will now be presented to the Leader of Wokingham Borough Council.
Updates on this and other development matters in Barkham will be sent to all who have subscribed to our development watch mailing list. To subscribe please click here HERE
The main site proposed is Barkham Square, adjacent to Arborfield Green. Residents accepted the development of the former Arborfield Garrison site as it involved largely regeneration of brownfield land, but now the wider area is being exposed to potential development creep, meaning encroachment upon the much valued countryside and on our overstretched roads within Barkham, Arborfield and Finchampstead. This goes against the Council’s current planning policies (such as CP11) which were designed to protect the separate identity of settlements.
Background: The rural setting of Barkham defines the character of the village. The attractive and varied landscape is punctuated with settlements of varying ages, styles and sizes. Taking into consideration the 3500 houses being built in Arborfield Garrison, 1800 of which are in Barkham, any additional homes will then have the effect of more than doubling the size of the parish.
Impact on Traffic: The roads around Barkham are narrow, most are residential and the few country lanes contribute to the country ambience. Barkham Square along with several other sites is landlocked with access only onto rural country roads. The current traffic load on these unsuitable roads and those in the neighbouring parishes is already excessive and will only get worse, meaning even more traffic on the crowded local roads of Barkham Street, Barkham Road, Langley Common Road, School Road and all the other surrounding roads. This increased congestion would have an economic, social and health impact as well - residents arriving late for work or appointments, leaving home early and everyone having to endure the traffic fumes from the endless queues.
Impact on the Countryside: The development of the Arborfield Garrison site is a good use of a brownfield site on the margins of the village and replaces run down army buildings. In contrast, Barkham Square and other possible sites are greenfield, towards the centre of the Parish, very visible from many vantage points and would encroach on the rural countryside, much valued by local residents and other groups, such as ramblers, horse riders and nature lovers. Besides a loss of countryside, it would be another step towards engulfing our villages in a continuous urban sprawl.
Conclusion: The Leader of the Council and the Executive Member(s) responsible for planning are requested to discard any future plans to develop Barkham Square and other inappropriate and unsustainable sites in Barkham and focus on more suitable sites across the Borough.