CONSTRUCTION work on a new bridge over the M4 connecting Reading to massive new housing developments to the south is to start in January.

The new year will herald the first phase of developments to build 6,000 new homes, new roads and a science park.

The first phase will include a project to build the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road that will turn off the Shinfield Road to Arborfield Road and be connected to Black Boy Roundabout by the new bridge between junctions 10 and 11 of the motorway.

The road will pave the way for major proposals including 3,500 new homes at Arborfield Garrison and 2,500 new homes across Shinfield, Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross to be built by 2026.

It is expected the motorway bridge and road will be finished in 18 months.

While the road forms part of Wokingham Borough Council’s plans to create four new housing areas, it is being built by Reading University to provide a link between the town and a planned science and innovation park.

Dan Hayman, spokesman for a consortium of developers called the South of the M4 Partnership, said detailed plans for the park will be submitted next year.

He added: “One of the key benefits of the science park will be employment. It will raise the profile of Reading and the Thames Valley as a good place to do business in the innovative technologies.”

The road was granted planning permission in November 2012, after Reading Borough Council objected to the original plans in 2010 because the additional traffic would put more pressure on the town’s existing road network.

Reading Borough Council spokesman Oscar Mortali said: “Wokingham consulted the council on the housing at Shinfield in the summer of 2010. At the time Reading expressed obvious concerns over additional traffic and objected to the proposals.”

However, the scheme was given the green light after an agreement to provide £355,122 towards easing congestion in the borough was reached.

Wokingham Borough is also drawing up plans for an Arborfield Relief Road in preparation for the new homes being built at Arborfield Garrison and Hogwood Farm, in Finchampstead.

However, Reading’s planning leaders criticised the plans for homes on the site of the old army base after claims that the A327 through Whitley had been “forgotten” in the traffic summary.

A formal objection to the plans has been submitted to Wokingham transport leaders and Mr Mortali said: “Reading has objected to Wokingham outlining that there has been no analysis on the implications of the proposals on Reading as the neighbouring authority.”

Work on the Arborfield Relief Road will not begin until 2016 once planning permission has been granted.

Planning permission has been granted to build 900 homes at Spencers Wood and Three Mile Cross with a new primary school on a site adjoining Hyde End Lane and Ryeish Lane, while developers have outline permission for 1,350 homes around Shinfield. A total of 126 homes are planned for Cutbush Lane subject to a legal agreement between the University and borough council. No one from Wokingham Borough was available to comment.