Saturday, 21 October 2017

Cutting speed limit outside homes would cost £7,000

COUNCILLORS want to reduce the speed limit on the B481 outside a new housing development in Sonning Common.

They want to extend the 30mph zone on a section of Peppard Road so that it includes the area outside Lea Meadow, near the Herb Farm, which has a 40mph limit.

However, Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has refused to contribute towards the £7,000 cost of the move.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said the idea of lowering the speed limit was introduced in the village’s neighbourhood plan.

He told a parish council meeting: “This was unanimously approved by councillors as we felt it was the right thing to do, particularly with the risks of that road.

“As talk increases about a third Reading bridge we should make clear this is not a motorway.” He said the county council should make a contribution, adding: “We will see if they say, ‘we don’t care, show us a few deaths before it can be installed’.”

The 30mph limit starts near the junction with Westleigh Drive when travelling from Emmer Green and continues except for a small section near the Bird in Hand pub.

The new development by Bewley Homes will have 65 homes and space for 170 cars.

A condition of the planning permission was the inclusion of a “ghost island” — a hatched section to indicate that vehicles should not enter.

This is for drivers travelling towards Reading to pull into in order to turn into the estate.

Councillor David Bartholomew, the village’s representative on the county council, said the parish council should not be surprised by his council’s decision not to contribute.

He said: “If the initiative is being driven by the parish council, not the county council, then the costs of introducing that speed limit fall on the parish council. This is standard unless it is part of another scheme. 

“It has to go through the consultation process with residents, which contributes to the cost. Also there are legal costs.”

Cllr Bartholomew also warned reducing the speed limit could make the land on the other side of the road more attractive to developers.

An analysis by Parsons Brinckerhoff, of Basingstoke, on behalf of the developer Bewley showed five minor accidents had happened in the area since 2010. Three of these happened on Peppard Road itself.

The study also showed about 8,000 car journeys are made on the road every day. Cllr Rawlins said the study showed some drivers went more than 50mph in that area.

He said: “There will be children coming out on to that road who will be walking and cycling. I regard the risks being materially different once we have a large development there.

“It’s a moot point about encouraging development on the other side of the road. It is not in the spatial strategy and it is not going to be put at risk.”

Councillor John Stoves said he felt the best time to assess the potential dangers was when the houses had been built.

Councillor Rawlins said the developer and the county council should share the cost, adding: “We should press ahead with this without committing to paying the full £7,000 and wait for the county council to come to the party.

“This development is about to take place and it would be crazy not to do the work to reduce the speed limit at the same time.”

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