Category Archives: News

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.

Jet Black 1 – Bus Route Change Proposed – Petition Available

Did you know that Reading Buses are proposing to change the route taken by the Jet Black (No. 1) bus through Theale?

The proposal is to have the bus run from Reading into the Arlington Business Park as it does currently, but intead of the route returning from the business park back into Theale along Hoad Way, it will instead follow Brunel Road to the railway staion, and then into the village along Station Road, under the A4 flyover. The route will then continue along its existing course along Church Street and The Green, and proceed towards Newbury. The porposed eastbound route is identical to the westbound, but in reverse.

Other buses that currently use the stops in the High Street are unaffected by the proposal, and will continue to pass along the High Street.

With the proposed change of route, come changes to bus stops. The Jet Black will no longer stop in the High Street, so users of these stops will have to either go to the stops in Church Street, or cross the A4 to use the stops in the business park. Additionally, the bollards in Station Road imposing width restrictions will be removed to allow buses to travel under the bypass flyover. The buses will then be able to pass, but this change could also allow other large vehicles to pass along the road. Changes to the road restrictions would enable large vehicles other than busses to enter the village from the west via Church Street and then use Station Road to easily access the industrial areas to the south of the flyover. (Currently large vehicles need to travel along the bypass and enter the business and industrial area via the roundabout at Waterside Drive.)

Theale Councillor, Alan Macro, has created a two petitions: one to keep the Jet Black 1 buses serving Theale High Street, and another opposing the removal of the existing width restrictions in Station Road.

You can sign the petition by contacting Alan, or by completing the online survey he has created. Alan is going to pesent the petition to Reading Buses on Monday 27th February, and West Berkshire Council on Thursday 1st March, so if you want to sign, you should do so as soon as possible.

Theale Library – Summer Fun Activities

Theale Library has a schedule of fun activities for children during the summer holidays.

There are numerous activities planned between Tuesday 26th July and Tuesday 29th August. For more details, please see the poster produced by the team at Theale Library, here.

All children must be accompanied by a parent or carer.

Of course, the library has many other facilities on offer. Details of opening times and contact details can be found here.

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.

Don’t forget the Summer Fayre at the primary school

The tireless Jo Hammett has asked us to post a reminder about the primary school’s ‘summer fayre’ this Saturday, July 10. Sounds like a great event, so please give it your full support. Here is their message:

“Please remember to mark in your diary: Theale Church of England Primary School’s Summer Fayre, managed by our very dedicated and hard-working PTA. The Fayre is to be at the school, 11am – 2pm, on Saturday 10th July 2010.

We’ll have the classic attractions, including bouncy castle, BarBQ, refreshments, face painting, lucky dips, treasure hunt and tombolas and lots of other fun and original stalls for people of all ages including the beer stall and lucky loos (yes with real toilets!).

This year we have some extra surprises too! Our own steel panners will be setting the summer theme with their live party music, the local Tae Kwon Do group will be demonstrating their skills, Theale’s very own rabbit rescue lady will be with us, they’ll be a children’s entertainer and we’ve even got the police!

We’re also thrilled to have lots of local businesses coming in running stalls of all kinds from financial services to chutneys and ice creams to hair extensions!

We are also very excited to welcome to our Fayre representatives from Integralis, who are making a whopping £1000 donation to the PTA. Kaven Beauty salon and Blue Cobra Indian restaurant are also coming along to share the fun and to accept our formal thanks for their recent donations to the PTA as a result of their Gala Evening, in Theale and we’re hoping to thank both Theale Taxis and Wolsely plc who have also both given generous donations this term to help with the school’s fundraising efforts.

The presentations are to be made at 1pm and some of our own poster competition winners will be accepting the donations on behalf of the school. We are delighted that the community as a whole is pitching in to help raise money for the school. We were recently the victims of a vandal attack and suffered huge amounts of damage to the roof – having paid that bill we then needed to find the money for the ICT suite because the handful of computers we currently own were just not reliable. It’s not fair on the children, they need good quality, reliable equipment to help them excel. Everyone has worked really hard to raise the money needed for this project and the PTA have done a great job – involving parents, the school and the local business community.

The donations we’ve received have made a tremendous positive impact on our overall funds and to know we have this support is amazing. This is a very tight-knit community that is really pulling together to make the future as rosy for our children as possible. Please support us by giving the event as much publicity as you can.”