A neighbouring council is supportive of a push in Reading for a third bridge over the River Thames.

The Labour administration at Reading Borough Council has expressed hopes for a project that would build a third bridge over the river linking the A329 in East Reading with Henley Road in Caversham.

This bridge would cross the borough boundary, covering part of South Oxfordshire and Earley, which is administered by Wokingham Borough Council.

Wokingham Borough has expressed qualified support for the third Thames Bridge  in its response to Reading council’s draft transport strategy for 2040.

The response states: “Although the scheme is half in Wokingham borough and half in South Oxfordshire district, the majority of the benefits will be felt by Reading residents.

“Wokingham Borough Council remains supportive, however, it is essential that a financially sustainable model for construction and ongoing maintenance be identified.

“It is also essential that this is designed as a sustainable route corridor and not an extension of the A3290/A329(M).”

The new bridge would theoretically be used by cyclists and buses as well as cars.

The ‘Cross Thames travel’ section in Reading Borough’s draft transport strategy states the bridge would provide outcomes that would improve bus journey reliability and increase cycling levels.

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Wokingham council’s support for the scheme is conditional on the impacts the route would have on its own Climate Emergency Action Plan.

Furthermore, it was qualified that a full business case and emissions assessment would need to be undertaken, with particular consideration for the amount of emissions vehicle use and the construction of the bridge would generate.

Wokingham Borough Council’s response to Reading council’s draft transport strategy 2040 was sent after a decision by councillor Paul Fishwick (Liberal Democrats, Winnersh) the executive member for active travel, transport and highways on November 29, 2023. 

Reading Chronicle: A design for a Third Thames Bridge which would link Thames Valley Park in Earley with Caversham. Credit: Reading Borough CouncilA design for a Third Thames Bridge which would link Thames Valley Park in Earley with Caversham. Credit: Reading Borough Council

While Wokingham council is nominally supportive of the Third Thames Bridge project, it has proven unpopular with councillors in South Oxfordshire.

Back in 2020, South Oxfordshire District Council’s then-leader cllr Sue Cooper (Liberal Democrats, Benson and Crowmarsh) stated that her council did not believe that a third Thames crossing would be the right solution to congestion issues in and around Reading.

It has previously been reported that a third Thames bridge would require millions in funding from the Department for Transport to implement.

In order for the Department of Transport to fund the project, a strategic outline case, an outline business case and a full business case would have to be submitted for departmental approval.

Oxfordshire County Council is the highways authority for the whole of the county, with South Oxfordshire district being a a major consultee. Any Third Thames bridge project would require the consent of Oxfordshire County Council to implement.