Ashridge Interchange  

The Ship Inn from London Road, with Peach Street to the left

Market Place and Broad Street from Cockpit PathShute End looking northwards, with The Terrace on the right

   "The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party organisation that exists to promote the
   best possible traffic solution for Wokingham for the least overall environmental impact."

                History - A329 Relief Road Inquiry, Week 2

Berkshire County Council Minutes:

Ashridge Interchange

Woosehill development

Highways and Transportation sub-committees

Wokingham Times Articles, 1968-9, by subject:

Bracknell Town

Wokingham Town

Wokingham One-Way System

The Land Commission and Woosehill

Reading Road and Winnersh

Build-up of opposition to Ashridge proposals

Public Inquiry
Week 1

Public Inquiry
Week 2

Public Inquiry
Week 3

Newspaper reports, late 1970

Summary of Newspaper reports, 1971-5

Wokingham Times Articles, 1971-5, by subject:

Wokingham Town

Woosehill

Woosehill
Public Inquiry, Summer 1973

Winnersh

Woodley and Earley

The M4, A329(M) and IDR

The public inquiry into the A329 Relief Road was held at The Pavilion, Woodley Park, Haddon Drive, Woodley, opening  at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 21st 1969. This report covered the end of the second week of the proceedings.

From the Wokingham Times, November 13th 1969:

‘M4 Link road a threat to Embrook [sic] – inquiry told’:

Wokingham Borough Council views with alarm dangers likely to arise in the Emmbrook area from the proposed M4 link road system. This was stated by the Town Clerk, Mr. Leonard Goddard Smalley, at the public enquiry being held into the proposals. He said the council also questioned the reason for the provision, the position and the particular design of the Ashridge intersection.

The council felt very strongly that the relevance of the wider planning of the road system in the area should be known before the intersection was approved, but without delay in the construction of the relief road. But it had to be made clear that the Borough Council welcomed the proposal to build a relief road forming a by-pass to the town. For many years the provision of a by-pass to relieve town congestion had been a forefront aim of the council, and the construction of the motorway and relief road made this also possible at an early date.

It was the council’s view that the construction of the relief road at the same time as the motorway was essential. He said the Ashridge intersection could be intended for a quick and easy access to the motorway for the town. "But what has caused great anxiety to a large number of people is its design – that of a motorway pattern dual-carriageway overpass which indicated the possibility of continuation as a major access in an unknown and unplanned direction".

Mr. Smalley gave four developments which he said seemed likely to result from the scheme:

  • Traffic from Reading and Bracknell visiting or trading in the town would not use the intersection, nor would residents in the town who wised to visit Reading or Bracknell. It would still be much more convenient to use the old A329.
  • Travellers northwards on the A321 to Henley and Oxford would not use the intersection as there was no connection northwards to the A321.
  • Industrial traffic similarly routed east or west to Reading or Bracknell would not use it.
  • This left only travellers from the town who wished to use the motorway itself and travellers from the south along the A321, also bound for the motorway.

He said congestion at the railway level crossing and the obstacle of two low bridges on the A321 had been referred to and his council had a great concern that additional motorway traffic was likely to be encouraged along the A321 and into the town centre before reaching the Ashridge intersection.

"It has been conceded by county council officers that there has been no detailed research, transportation survey, consultation with the Hampshire County Council on the future traffic pattern, or necessary route proposals in the area to the south of Wokingham between the M3 and the M4 which would give support to the construction of an intersection designed to accept traffic from the south".

Such research, he said, was considered by the Borough Council to be a pre-requisite to route planning.

‘Highway problem’

Referring to the interest of that Land Commission in 360 acres in the Woosehill Lane area. Mr. Smalley said all services were available but it was acknowledged that a highway problem would have to be faced. It was equally clear that the Ashridge intersection had not been designed with this problem in mind. It had been stated that the M4 Action Group and others wanted the intersection to be cut out completely and permanently.

"The council does not take this view, but states that the results of careful research and information are not available to support the proposed intersection in its present design, position or direction. A connection to the town from the relief road might be required following detailed investigation which has not so far been taken. These are matters which must be carefully considered in the light of further investigation. It is the council’s concern that the Ashridge intersection has been designed and included in the Order without detailed investigation. The wider planning of the road system in this area to the Ashridge intersection should be demonstrated to the Minister."

Referring to the Special Road (Side Roads) Order, Mr. Smalley said this provided for a new road from the Ashridge intersection to connect with existing roads at the junction of Twyford Road and Matthews Green Road and thence into a series of substandard roads. The streets in the old community were narrow and winding, unsuitable for additional traffic.

The eastern section of the Ministry of Transport access road from Twyford Road (A321) crossed Forest Road (B3034) at ground level and effectively closed a well-used route from the A329 between Winnersh and Binfield on to Bracknell. The B3034 also led to the A321 at Bill Hill crossroads and had been an effective by-pass to the town.

"The closing of Forest Road will compel travellers from the western part of the area to use the roads in Emmbrook in order to gain access to the relief road and motorway via Matthews Green Road and also to the Twyford Road A321". This meant using the narrow section of Emmbrook Road at the brook bridge and then past the entrances to three schools before joining Matthews Green Road. He said the county council had acknowledged concern of the difficulties in this area by reason of the closing of Forest Road.

‘18ft road’

Population of the immediate area of Emmbrook was approximately 1,000, and between the old persons’ bungalows of Corfield Green and the narrow brook bridge were the entrances to three schools. The road at this point was only about 18 feet wide with a narrow footpath on one side. From infants to school-leaving age there were 1,300 children at the present time, and with school transport, private conveyances for the children, domestic traffic from the large residential estate close by, together with additional traffic to the A321 and the motorway, the prospects from the point of view of safety looked very difficult.

The council objected to the Order on the grounds that as planned the scheme made no provisions for improving the approach roads or making an alternative approach to avoid the Emmbrook area. He emphasised an urgent necessity for the relief road to proceed with the construction of the motorway and the need for full information regarding the purpose and implications of the Ashridge intersection. He called for the fullest possible information on the effect on Wokingham of main route proposals between the M3 and the M4.

‘Times opinion – by Tommy Thomson’:

Wokingham Borough Council has made a brave showing at the public inquiry into the proposed M4 link road system through its chief executive, Mr. Leonard Goddard Smalley. Critics of the council who had jumped in feet first and without a clue as to inquiry procedure are now joining in with their own songs of praise.

Calmly and logically the Town Clerk presented a well-argued case completely belying earlier charges of council dereliction of duty and that it was "wishy-washy". Having heard some of the statements made by some of the Wokingham protestants at the inquiry, the Borough Council would be justified in asking "Who now is wishy washy?"

‘4,000 signature petition on M4’:

A petition bearing 4,000 signatures and calling for the rejection of certain proposals in the M4 link road system will be presented when the inquiry resumes on Monday. Organised by Wokingham Joint Residents’ Association, Wokingham Society and Wokingham M4 Action Committee, the petition "represents an 80 per cent response from those canvassed and is a clear indication that the town opposes the Ashridge interchange".

It calls on the Minister of Transport to reject:

  1. The county council proposal to provide a link for M4 traffic direct to residential roads in Wokingham, either via the A321 or through the medium of the Ashridge interchange, which must take heavy traffic through residential areas, past most of the town’s schools, many old buildings and through the town centre, thereby endangering lives, particularly the children and older inhabitants.
  2. The proposal to build the first section of a motorway standard road from Ashridge interchange southwards, without disclosing the route of the further sections which must cut the town in two and is contrary to good town planning and local participation in planning decisions.

The petition requests the Minister of Transport to consult with the Minister of Housing and to prepare alternative proposals for discussion with its organisers in line with Government policy for local participation in planning decisions.

On Wednesday the Action Committee, Wokingham Society, North Wokingham Residents’ Association and others are scheduled to present their evidence.

Report of Week 1

Report of Week 3

Thanks are due to Surrey and Berkshire Media, owners of the 'Wokingham Times', for permission to reproduce these articles. Note that microfilm copies of these newspapers can be viewed at both Wokingham and Bracknell Libraries.

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