Wednesday 11 August 2021

Inspection notes of pedestrian island on Upper Woodcote Rd near The Heights school

On Friday 6 August I held a meeting with a Reading Borough Council Highways officer and a local resident to inspect the new pedestrian island in Upper Woodcote Road and discuss concerns. 

Vehicles have damaged the island's kerb stones as can be seen in my photo below which has raised safety questions. I wanted to establish whether it was built to the correct dimensions, complies with the prerequisite National standards and what the outstanding works were before it is completed ready for the school opening in September.  

View east showing island's damaged kerb stone

I'll summarise for readers wishing just the headlines. 

  • It is usual for tweaks to Highways works after planning permission is granted to be made without reverting back for further planning permission.
  • The traffic island complies with National standards
  • The measurements have been checked
  • It is yet to have illuminated signage and revisions to the road markings after resurfacing of the road
  • These items will be delivered after the zebra crossing has been finished
  • Reading Borough Council will not be implementing any parking controls prior to The Heights school opening in September, apart from  on the junction entrance where School Keep Clear markings will go down

The officer kindly wrote up his notes for me as requested, including information about the zebra crossing under construction. As there is wider public interest, I'm publishing his notes in blue below:

"Following the planning application stage the applicant and the Highway  authority engaged in discussions regarding the Highways works associated with the school development and this resulted in some minor changes to the design through this detailed design stage, which is common place in the vast majority of schemes requiring Highway works.  Given that the alterations related solely to Public Highway these were not required to go back through the planning applications process. 

One of the changes to the scheme relates to the dimensions of the pedestrian refuge island which was agreed should be increased in width so that it could facilitate additional pedestrians and would be of benefit to the safety of those utilising the crossing.  This design is subject to the S278 Agreement between the DfE and the Council and a copy of the approved drawing can be viewed here
The retained carriageway width either side of the pedestrian refuge island is 3m, which is in accordance with the National Standards and on site checks have verified that this width is provided.
It should be stressed that the pedestrian refuge crossing facility is not completed with the provision of illuminated signage and revisions to the road markings still to be undertaken by the developers contractor.  These works have been delayed given they are to be completed post the resurfacing scheme that is to be undertaken by the developer as part of the wider package of works and as such the road markings would be completed post this resurfacing.  These works will take place post the construction of the zebra crossing.
Highway Officers have previously expressed to the contractors that the crossing should not be opened up to the public until the full scheme has been completed and on 6th August Officers reiterated this to the contractor given that the barriers restricting the use of the crossing facility had been removed.
It should also be stressed that the Highway works are subject to independent road safety audits, one of which is completed pre commencement of the works and identified no fundamental issue with the design of the scheme with all areas of concern appropriately addressed.  An additional road safety audit would be undertaken post completion of the works and Highway Officers will be requesting that this be undertaken as soon as works are complete given the sensitivities and concerns regarding the scheme.
The existing bus stops on Upper Woodcote Road within the vicinity of the works will be relocated as agreed at the planning application stage and as such will not conflict with the proposed pedestrian refuge crossing as can be seen on this drawing.
A zebra crossing is to be constructed south east of the school access within close proximity to Knowle Close. The crossing will also be provided with independent street lighting columns to provide visibility for those crossing at night and these columns will include shields at the back of the column head to reduce light spillage.  The zebra crossing will not be provided with a school crossing patroller.   
These two new crossing facilities would be the only dedicated pedestrian crossing facilities in the vicinity, which will not only aid travel to and from the school but for the wider community to travel to and from Mapledurham playing fields, between bus stops and other pedestrian journeys.  The only other island within the vicinity of the site is splitter island at the junction with Woodcote Way, which is not designed for pedestrians as its purpose is to keep vehicle traffic on the correct side of the carriageway. 

For information the Council will not be implementing any parking controls prior to the opening of the school apart from the school keep clear markings on Upper Woodcote Road (which are provided within the scope of the developers works) but reviews will be undertaken by Officers to establish what measures may or may not be required once the school is operational to ensure that the correct scheme is progressed.  This approach was agreed by Councillors at the Traffic Management Sub Committee in January of this year."  

As usual, if you have any questions about this, or any other council-related matter in Mapledurham Ward do contact me at: