The failed East Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project has cost Reading Borough Council (RBC) more than £800,000.

Around 95 per cent of the money was spent on preparing and submitting the first application for the 800m dedicated bus, pedestrian and cycle route which was rejected by Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC) planning committee in June.

The £823,861 expenditure was revealed through a Freedom of Information request.

Councillor Rob White, Reading Green Party leader, said: “That is a lot of money wasted. It could have been spent on measures which would have truly reduced congestion and air pollution.”

RBC withdrew the scheme in January, after a revised version was rejected once again by WBC in December.

The council will now launch a public consultation on alternative ways to tackle congestion and air quality in Reading.

John Sharpe, of the Save Our Ancient Riverside campaign, called on the council to ‘learn from this experience and adapt the way that they engage with the public’.

He said: “This highlights a poor approach to financial control and engagement with the public. At every consultation with the public there was substantial opposition to the MRT.

“It wasn't necessary to do the detailed technical design work in order to gauge public appetite for it.

“Especially in these straightened times we need to avoid unnecessary expenditure on ineffective and unacceptable projects. The current method of scrutiny is clearly not working properly.”

The sum does not include officer time spent on the project, so real costs would have been higher than the £823,861 figure.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said a ‘considerable’ amount of the money spent will be of benefit to Reading.

He said: “There is an abortive element which is mainly the fees to respective authorities. The vast majority is money that stands us in good stead because of the further work that will be needed.”

The deputy leader of RBC highlighted the council’s options appraisal, which looked at various options for tackling congestion in Reading, which he said will help the council to explore alternatives and ‘get the message across that the status quo is not an option.’

The analysis from consultants Peter Brett looked at ten different options for tackling congestion on London Road including variations of the East Reading Mass Rapid Transit scheme

Cllr Page said he believed around £40-50,000 was spent on the second application, which was rejected by Wokingham’s planning committee in December.

He added: “We will be saying more in a few weeks about the consultation and visioning process. We are discussing a number of ways of engaging the public and campaign groups.”

A spokesman for Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said: "The LEP invested £9,056 into an independent assessor’s report, produced by WYG.

"The assessor scrutinised the business case for the scheme and provided an assessment of value for money.

"This contributed to the decision of the LEP to award Reading Borough Council up to £19,067,000 of Local Growth Funds (LGF) for the East Reading MRT Phases 1 and 2.

"When the LEP was made aware that the scheme could not be delivered within the current LGF programme period, the funding was withdrawn.”