CAMPAIGNERS fighting an ambitious plan to build a park and ride and a single track bus lane over an historic part of the River Thames have accused Wokingham Borough Council of being misleading with their intentions.
Last week, the council started work to clear land by the Broken Bow near Thames Valley Park. The area will be home to a 277-space park and ride, which will act as a feeder to a bridge that will allow buses to run from the A3290 through to Reading’s railway station. It is a joint project between Wokingham and Reading borough councils and would be funded by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVLEP) as well as Section 106 money from building developments.
But campaigners – known as SOAR – say that the plans will ruin a green lung and damage a listed ‘horseshoe’ pedestrian bridge originally built by Brunel.
Last week, workmen acting on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council arrived at the Broken Bow site in order to clear the area ready for work to start on the park and ride.
SOAR spokesperson Brian Wright told The Wokingham Paper: “At this stage it doesn’t seem that WBC have carried out a preliminary ecology report. They should have carried out a more detailed ecology risk assessment, before interfering with the habitat.
“The ecologist brief has not been published to assure the public so this is a gung ho approach to protecting wildlife.
“Broken Bow is now a public open space and the high fencing seems excessive with the vegetation trimmed shoddily.
“The campaign will be contacting the Thames Valley wildlife police officer to request an investigation into the potential horror to protected species.
“The SOAR campaign is deeply concerned that WBC is disturbing the site during hibernation, harming the species and, in so doing, destroying the evidence.”
Cllr Simon Weeks, executive member for planning and enforcement at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “While it’s true the site does have planning permission for a new park and ride, clearing vegetation doesn’t constitute development requiring planning permission.
“This work, which includes a small number of trees, is being carried out in accordance with independent ecological and arboriculture reports designed to safeguard protected species. The site itself has no protected status in terms of ecology, nor is it subject to a tree preservation order.”