West Berkshire Council showcases major infrastructure projects
West Berkshire Council welcomed Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) new Head of Infrastructure to Newbury to showcase some of its major strategic infrastructure projects.
Last week, Bill Hicks, Susan Jones, the LEP’s Programmes Manager and Nicola Scott from GWR were shown seven key projects which will deliver vital improvements to the town over the next five years.
The tour began at the council’s offices, adjacent to the £50m Market Street development, which will see the delivery of new homes and retail units and has already seen the opening of the brand new bus station.
From there, they moved to Newbury railway station where an £18m upgrade is about to get underway. There, GWR discussed plans for the rejuvenation of the station buildings and supporting improvements, which will be part-financed by £6m from the LEP’s Local Growth Fund (LGF), and provided the latest position on the new rolling stock coming online as electrification brings new benefits to travellers.
A visit was also made to the new London Road Industrial Estate junction, a £4m scheme part-funded through the LGF, and the new cycle paths along the A4 between Newbury and Thatcham which are improving safety for all road users along the busy route while encouraging more travellers to make a greener choice. This route is part of West Berkshire’s contribution to National Cycle Route 422 linking the main urban centres from Newbury to Ascot.
A visit was also made to the former Sterling Cables site, where LEP funding has facilitated vital decontamination work to ready this site for the construction of 177 new homes, as well as a new link road and widening of the Boundary Road bridge. This will also improve traffic flow from the Racecourse development, where an attractive, mixed housing development is being delivered alongside improvements to the Newbury Racecourse railway station.
The tour finished at Newbury College where the delegation met with Jo Houghton, the college’s Director of Business and Partnerships, and saw the solutions lab, funded under LGF Skills Capital, before viewing the new Highwood Copse Primary School, which is due to welcome students in September and will be serviced by a new access road part funded through the LGF. Dr Houghton also outlined the college’s plans for a new university centre on site, for which the college intends to bid for LGF Skills Capital funding.
Jeanette Clifford, West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: "We were very pleased to welcome our partners at the LEP to Newbury and show them some of the exciting projects we have lined up for the town.
"We're proud to be working with the railway industry and the LEP to provide major improvements to our increasingly well-used railway station that commuters and residents need: better facilities at the station itself including new retail opportunities and better access for people arriving by bus, bike, on foot or by car. When this is combined with the Market Street development, the south of Newbury town centre is going to have the new lease of life we’ve all wanted for it.
"Through partnership working and a well-planned capital programme we are delivering big infrastructure projects that will serve the whole district well for decades to come. This is an important time for West Berkshire. It’s already recognised as one of the best places in the country to live. We’re glad to work with the LEP to invest now and secure its future."
Commenting on the tour, Bill Hicks, Thames Valley Berkshire LEP’s Head of Infrastructure, said: “This was a valuable opportunity offered by West Berkshire Council to see the LEP’s investment of Local Growth Funds – totalling over £13m – being made in schemes that will help to reinforce the economic development of Newbury and enhance the overall benefits of living and doing business in this part of Thames Valley Berkshire.”