Reading Borough Council published its most ambitious and some might suggest their most radical overhaul ever of a Local Transport Strategy, which is key plan to tackle the Climate Change and to help create a town that is net zero carbon by 2030.

The Reading Transport Strategy 2036 is an eagerly awaited policy document. Once adopted, we can expect this to play an interdependent role with the recently adopted New Local Plan, in terms of transport aspects enabling sustainable development and vice-versa. Councillor Tony Page, in the foreword strongly states:

“This is the most important Transport Strategy that Reading will ever produce. The Climate Emergency is happening now and it is not something any of us should ignore. The new strategy is our most radical yet and reflects the fact that the status quo is not an option.”

mode’s experience in dealing with similar strategies in other towns/cities, is that this may be slightly bolder and sharpened once finalised, in recognition of consultation feedback on this draft version.

The objectives and overarching principles are clearly very ambitious, but we are yet to see a well-defined position on big impact initiatives such as the inclusion of a Workplace Parking Levy. We know from places such as Oxford, that such initiatives can be a delicate PR exercise to land smoothly – it isn’t surprising to see this remains worded in a sufficiently elusive way in this draft version, but let’s see if there’s a louder commitment in the final version. Winchester for example, made reference to the same initiative in their draft movement strategy in Autumn 2018, before subsequently dropping it in its entirety the following Spring in the adopted version. That said, they of course have a very well-established Park and Ride system.

Nonetheless, we note in this draft Reading Transport Strategy, Park and Ride has stepped up a gear or two. There is now a much clearer and tangible message from the Council that a more complete Park and Ride network, coupled with continued improvements to the free movement of buses, will be key. This would form part of ‘Fast Track Public Transport’ (FTPT) network, with new Park and Ride sites placed at strategic interception points into Reading (including new sites north of the Thames). There is also reference to this tying up with a Third Thames Crossing, which is indeed recognised as a measure of the 2036 Strategy.

mode transport planning will be sure to keep a close eye on how the Reading Transport Strategy 2036 develops, ensuring our advice and assistance to existing and future clients is in line with the Council’s aims; further assuring that future developments planned can help create an increasingly sustainable town in the heart of Berkshire.