Category Archives: Environment

IKEA Planning Application Granted

As you will probably have heard, on Wednesday 4th April the Eastern Area Planning Committee of West Berkshire Council held a special meeting during which the development of IKEA on Pincents Lane Retail Park was approved.

The meeting was well attended by members of the public – numbering about 60 at the peak – and also other interested parties such as Sainsbury’s and representatives from several local parish councils. The application was presented at length (by going through the Public Document Pack), a large section of which focussed on one of the main concerns many people have: traffic volumes. There were many tables of statistics which were scrutinised by the committee, including lengths of traffic queues projected at each of the nearby junctions at several points in time:

  • 2010 actual figures,
  • Projected figures for 2020 (with no IKEA or changes to highways),
  • Projected figures for 2020 with IKEA but without updated highways, and
  • Projected figures for 2020 with IKEA with proposed highway changes

The figures covered envisaged peak hour traffic on weekday evenings (between 17.00 and 18.00) and also the weekend peak hour (between 13.00 and 14.00). There was no mention of any predicted volumes of traffic at current non-peak times (such as weekend mornings), and there was no information on the degree of change in traffic volumes at these times. It was emphasised that the updates to highways were to cater for the periods of highest volumes of traffic, and in making these changes, traffic flow at all other times would be satisfied. The traffic information was very detailed. During the meeting it was explained that the figures were determined by taking traffic volumes from the local area and also from around the Bristol Ikea site and by factoring up the Bristol volumes to provide the best comparison with the intended site at Calcot with its larger volume and customer catchment area.

The estimated cost of the highways updates is £5 million. One of the interesting points raised during the debate after the application was reviewed was that should Ikea not progress with development, it would theoretically be possible for an interested party to take over the derelict site next to the Porche dealership without needing to apply for planning permission and not need to address any issues that may be introduced with increasing traffic volumes. The view of some councillors was that because Ikea had needed to apply for planning permission, any potential traffic issues also needed to be addressed. Refusing the planning application might lead to worse traffic issues in the future than if it were granted, and the phrase “we should be careful what we wish for” was used.

In terms of public transport, the proposal is for the number 26 bus route to be extended from outside of Sainsbury’s to outside of IKEA instead. Buses will stand outside Ikea. The National Express coach stop will move from Junction 12 to Junction 11, which may be an inconvenience for local residents who are currently able to walk to the stop, but is thought by West Berks Council to ease the burden of traffic at the Sainsbury’s bus stop in the future.

When built, the store will be 22 metres high (equivalent to a 7-storey building) and provide over 39,000 sq. metres (425,000 sq. ft.) of retail floor space over 3 levels. The car park will contain 1,179 spaces with over 50 spaces dedicated to disabled users, another 50+ for families and 36 more dedicated for staff. Around 400 jobs will be created, consisting of both full- and part-time roles.

The decision was made to approve the application by a vote of 7 votes for to 4 against.

Theale turns greener with two thousand new trees

Theale is set to become a leafier place in which to live and work. Residents, schools, and business owners are being asked to play their part in an ambitious scheme to plant more than two thousand new trees in and around the village later this year. “2010 trees in 2010″ is being officially launched on July 13. The plan has received support from Theale Parish Council and West Berks Council, as well as local businesses, who are being encouraged to take part through sponsorship, or through their corporate social responsibility schemes.

Ricky Josey, head of Theale Environment Group, explained the background to the plan:

“The idea came up in response to the results of the Theale village questionnaire, in which 72% described the environment as ‘very important’ or ‘important’. Wider surveys show that more than three quarters of the public would like to see more trees planted in the UK. As 2010 is the United Nations Year of Biodiversity, it seemed like a good idea to combine all these things and aim to plant 2,010 trees locally. The Parish Council has helped us map out some likely spots. So far, we’ve had the go-ahead for planting areas in Englefield Road area, including fruit trees near the school to attract wildlife and improve biodiversity.

“Plans are still being developed, but we think this is a great way to unite the village in a community-wide event. The aim is to plant the trees during National Tree Week, November 27th to Dec 5th 2010. The vital message is that we need the local community to be involved. The schools will be playing a part. Planting a tree is a great activity for children. They have fun, learn a skill, and are able to watch the tree grow as they do.”

Local residents are included too. Anyone with some space in their garden will be offered the chance to take part, and get a FREE tree or two into the bargain. Details are still being finalised, and will shortly be announced.

Green Drinks: Anyone who wants to learn more about the idea, or who wants to put their names down for some trees, can turn up at the monthly Theale Green Drinks event. This informal gathering takes place on the second Tuesday of every month in The Crown pub. Next get-together is Tuesday 13th July, starting at 6.30pm. The meetings start early for the benefit of people who work locally, and last as long as you want to stay. They are primarily social events for people with some interest in environmental issues, but there is no set agenda and very few formalities. To learn more about Theale Green Drinks, or to discuss how you can help the tree planting campaign, get in touch with Ricky Josey directly, or contact the website, and we’ll pass it on. Anyone who wants to be kept up to date with this and other news about Theale can join our mailing list.

Red Lion cries foul

The new tenants at the Red Lion are asking Theale residents to help them raise awareness of their campaign to have something done about the nasty sewage smell in Church Street, close to the pub.

New kids on the block, Lynne Kiddle and Nick Baker, are organising a petition to present to the council. Lynne says: “The issue is the foul smell in Church Street. We have set up a campaign to get as many signatures as possible to raise Continue reading Red Lion cries foul

“The biggest threat to Theale since the Second World War”

An anxious gathering of nearly 100 local residents on Thursday evening heard Councillor Alan Macro describe the proposed development of 800 new homes as “the biggest threat to Theale since the Second World War”.

It was evidently a surprise to many to learn that the building of 350 new dwellings at the Lakeside site at the west end of the village had already been approved. The original application had been thrown out after fierce local opposition, but an appeal by the developers was hurriedly approved, seemingly beneath the radar of publicity.
Continue reading “The biggest threat to Theale since the Second World War”

Environment – Latest

Survey results – What are Theale residents saying about local environmental issues? Click here to find out.

Ricky Josey reports:
Transition West Berks – Let’s Grow Food

Celebration of Outdoor & Environmental Education at Ufton Court

Help the local environment: butterfly bank scrub management
Title: Help the local environment: Butterfly Bank Scrub Management
Date: Tuesday 11-11-2008
Start Time: 10:00
Location: Hosehill Lake (meet at the Fox & Hounds)
Description: Come along and help us manage the butterfly bank by clearing scrub, to stop it shading out the wildflowers which the butterflies depend on for food. Meet at the Fox and Hounds Pub, Station Road, Theale.
We are: the Pang, Kennet & Lambourn Valleys Countryside Projects, based at the Old Estate Office on Englefield Road. We help to manage and publicise conservation work at Hosehill Lake.
More info: 0118 930 5336