Councillor Tony Page has invited critics of the East Reading MRT scheme for discussions over alternatives after Reading Borough Council (RBC) accepted defeat over the transport scheme.

The segregated bus, cycle and walking route between Thames Valley Business Park and Napier Road was rejected by neighbouring authority Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) for a second time in December.

RBC will officially withdraw its planning application this week and launch a public consultation on how to tackle congestion and air quality.

Councillor Tony Page, RBC’s lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, will send out ‘direct invitations’ to opponents of the scheme to begin ‘constructive and open discussions’ on alternatives.

Cllr Page said: “In light of Wokingham’s second refusal and the removal of LEP funding for the scheme, the council has decided to officially withdraw its planning application.

“A great deal has been said about the East Reading MRT proposal, some of it based on genuine concern about the riverside setting of the new route, and some of it based on confusion around the benefits of the scheme.

“The fact remains, however, that the significant levels of growth Reading will inevitably absorb in the future means we need to find sustainable transport solutions which offer realistic alternatives to the private car.”

WBC councillors rejected the scheme in June due to concerns with the scheme’s environmental impact and its viability as a mass rapid transit scheme, and again in December after deciding there was not “sufficient change” in the amended proposals.

The transport link faced opposition from campaign group Save Our Ancient Riverside (SOAR), cross-party councillors in Wokingham and Reading Green Party councillors.

It also received more than 350 letters of objection and 3,500 members of the public signed a petition against the scheme, with many concerned about the potential loss of more than 700 trees across both boroughs and the impact on the local environment.

Members of the public have reacted on social media to the announcement.


The consultation will seek to answer the question: ‘how does Reading plan ahead to successfully absorb the growth in housing, jobs and commuting in the future, whilst protecting the health of its residents?’

RBC will seek residents, businesses and visitors' ideas on transport solutions to tackle congestion and air quality and mitigate the thousands of new homes expected to be built in the town over the coming years.

Ideas will feed into a new transport plan for Reading, which will be consulted on later in the year.

Councillor Page added: “We will now move on, look forward and engage with people on how these serious issues can be tackled in the future.

“Whilst this consultation is about the whole of Reading, I will also be extending direct invitations to engage in this important process with opponents of the East Reading MRT scheme.

“I hope they will agree to meet with me personally for a constructive and open discussion on options to provide sustainable transport solutions for East Reading, including the alternatives that were investigated at the East Reading MRT planning stages.

"There will be no ‘red lines’, only an open invitation to engage and help protect Reading’s future environment.”

SOAR’s John Mullaney said: “We will wholeheartedly embrace and accept the council's invitation to have a dialogue regarding new and progressive transport initiatives."