Maidenhead Station Project update
To receive a presentation from Ben Smith, Head of Commissioning- Communities (RBWM) on the above titled item.
Ben Smith, Head of Commissioning – Communities, gave a presentation and outlined to Members the latest state of the Maidenhead Station upgrade project. Members were reminded that there was a strong business case to support the project, with the delivery of Crossrail providing a significant positive impact on footfall in the town centre. Since the last Forum, the Council’s cycling strategy had been formally adopted by the Cabinet, which aimed to increase the number of cycle journeys in Maidenhead by 20 per cent in the next five years and reduce the accident rate. This also fitted in with the aim to become carbon zero, as discussed in the climate change emergency debate at June’s meeting of Full Council.
Members were reminded of the proposed changes to the roads as part of the improvement scheme. These included making Broadway two-way and introducing right-hand turns from the Nicholsons car park and Frascati Way, and removing the right turn onto the A308 at the Queen Street junction. The new Broadway junction had gone live on July 1st and trialling the closure of the right hand turn at the Queen Street junction had begun on July 8th. It was anticipated that the junction alterations would lead to fewer vehicles using Queen Street and lead to an overall reduction in congestion.
Ben Smith told Members that an online survey had taken place to engage the public about the amendments. Of the 532 responders, 123 thought the closure of the Queen Street right-hand turn would increase road user safety and 155 thought the new two-way system on Broadway would reduce the potential impact of the closure on Queen Street. Ben Smith stated that Thames Valley Police and the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service felt the changes would have little effect on their ability to respond to emergencies and the closure of the Queen Street turn would aid traffic flow. It had not been possible to get a response from the ambulance service despite numerous repeated attempts. Courtney Buses had indicated they believed the changes would increase time, mileage and costs and that this could impact on the reliability of their services. Feedback from residents suggested that a footbridge or underpass at the station would be a better solution. Ben Smith stated that these options had been looked into but were not considered viable due to costs and the constraints of the surrounding land.
Cllr Haseler said he worked as a quick response driver and stated his belief that the right turn closure had made traffic flow simpler, although he felt the final scheme did need some fine tuning. Cllr Taylor stated her belief that the new junction arrangements at Broadway and Frascati Way needed to be better signposted. Ben Smith stated that consideration had been given to a right-hand turn for emergency vehicles at Queen Street but this had been abandoned as it was considered too dangerous.
Responding to a question from Cllr Del Campo, Ben Smith stated that the scheme would not have a huge impact on air quality and emissions; a detailed analysis on this was included in the business case, which also outlined the benefits to the project. Ben Smith also confirmed that consideration had been given in the forecasts to increased traffic going to the new Braywick Leisure Centre.
Members were informed that the consultation on the changes to the road layout had been launched in advance of the trials going live. Cllr Dudley stated that any consultation needed to include data that would allow the public to give a more informed view and to take into account user experience. He stated he was concerned that no consideration could be given to any response from the ambulance service and whether the proposals represented any risks to the emergency services. Cllr Dudley said he was concerned at the number of negative responses to the consultation and said he was not happy to proceed with the scheme on this basis. He said that the Forum was no longer the appropriate place for the scheme to be discussed and requested a paper be produced, which included responses to a re-run consultation led by an external company, a response from all of the emergency services, and input from the Lead Member. It was agreed at Cllr Reynolds’ suggestion that the paper should be considered by Full Council on September 24th.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That a paper from the Lead Member be presented to Full Council on September 24th containing responses to a new consultation led by an external company, and from all of the emergency services.