Agenda item

Reallocation of Road Space - Reading's Active Travel Proposals

This report seeks scheme and spend approval for a number of highway schemes which reallocate road space to pedestrian and cycle space, in response to the need to support sustainable transport modes during the Coronavirus pandemic.


(In accordance with Section 100B (4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chair had agreed to allow this item to be considered as a matter of urgency to respond promptly to recent Government additional statutory guidance on the reallocation of road space in order to support local authorities to manage their road networks in response to the coronavirus outbreak).


The Executive Director of Economic Growth & Neighbourhood Services submitted a report seeking scheme and spend approval for a number of highway schemes which would reallocate road space to pedestrian and cycle space in response to the need to support sustainable transport modes during the Coronavirus pandemic.  The report explained that the Coronavirus pandemic continued to have a significant impact on how residents and businesses could operate. Social distancing requirements were likely to remain in place to keep people safe for some time.  The Government had also advised people to avoid public transport, where possible, as people began to return to work and school. The Council needed to respond swiftly to changing travel demands by increasing active travel opportunities which would increase walking and cycling.


The report stated that whilst the Government had issued guidance and was allocating funding to active travel proposals the details had yet to emerge.  The report set out an initial tranche of schemes for implementation including proposals for Gosbrook Road, Reading Bridge and Sidmouth Street.  Further smaller and local projects were also being considered with the hope that they could be brought forward for implementation.  It was recommended to use the Council’s approved Capital Programme funding (for transport projects) to commence initial delivery of these proposed schemes.  However, given the limitations of the Capital Programme, additional active travel schemes would need to be funded from the Government’s Active Travel fund.


The report explained that the schemes had been prepared to address the key Government guidance in the following sequence – i) short term - reallocating road space to walking and cycling to enable mobility whilst maintaining social distancing and reflecting the necessary restrictions on public transport (both in terms of  service frequency and occupancy) (ii) medium-long term - reallocating road space from private transport to public transport and active travel to meet public health, air quality and carbon objectives. Some schemes may achieve both and current circumstances presented a unique opportunity to take them forward.


The Government had stated that these measures could be introduced temporarily, either in isolation or as a combined package of measures. Some interventions, including new lightly-segregated cycle lanes, would not require Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). Local authorities should monitor and evaluate any temporary measures they installed, with a view to making them permanent, and embedding a long-term shift to active travel as part of the passage from restart to recovery.


Resolved –


(1)      That scheme and spend approval be granted for the following short-term projects, as set out in Section 5 of the report:


·       Gosbrook Road;

·       Sidmouth Street;

·       Reading Bridge;

·       Cycle and bus lanes on Oxford Road;

·       Whitley Street Local Centre;

·       Southampton Street / Silver Street;

·       Redlands Road;


(2)      That, subject to Government funding as part of the £250m active travel pack being available, the Executive Director for Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services be granted delegated authority for scheme and spend approval, in consultation with the Leader, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport and the Chair of the Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee, to approve further schemes set out in this report, as follows:


Medium-Term Projects


·       Blagrave Street;

·       Basingstoke Road;

·       London Road;

·       20mph speed limit review;


Long-Term Projects


·       Scheme from the Centre to East Reading through a joined-up approach to the provision of sustainable transport facilities on Kings Road and London Road;

·       Enhancements in West Reading including on Bath Road and further opportunities along the Oxford Road to deliver the new sections of bus lane as a part of the agreed corridor study and enhance and complement the current scheme;

·       Opportunities in North Reading, including improved access to Christchurch Bridge alongside walking and cycling enhancements in Caversham local centre and on Caversham Bridge;

·       Progression of measures in South Reading including on Basingstoke Road as referenced above, Shinfield Road and the A33 public transport scheme;

·       Enhancements to walking and cycling routes to/from and through the town centre alongside improving the quality of the urban realm;


(3)      That a further report be submitted to a future Traffic Management Sub-Committee or Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee on additional active travel initiatives in due course noting the criteria set out in this report;


(4)      That, a further report be submitted to Policy Committee on the funding of these schemes, grant applications and possible amendments to the Capital Programme as soon as further details from Government had been published;


(5)      That the Executive Director of Economic Growth & Neighbourhoods and other appropriate officers be authorised to bid for all funding opportunities in order to support this initiative.


Supporting documents: