A major new development at the University of Reading has been granted approval – despite fears it would make traffic worse on the town's already 'dangerously' congested roads.

Wokingham Borough Council has approved plans to build a new headquarters for the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) at the university’s Whiteknights campus in Earley.

But neighbours warned that congestion had already made nearby roads dangerous. And even Reading Borough Council called for Wokingham to refuse planning permission. But Wokingham Borough’s transport officers argued the impact on traffic would be small.

Cars visiting the headquarters would arrive at the university’s Earley Gate entrance off Whiteknights Road. But some neighbours wrote to Wokingham Borough Council to object, arguing that Whiteknights Road and Wilderness Road already get congested.

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They said drivers use residential streets to try and dodge the traffic getting onto the A329, Wokingham Road.

Halina Wielogorska said Holmes Road is already “plagued with reckless driving” by motorists trying to dodge congestion near the campus.

She said in a message to Wokingham Borough Council planning officers: “I have lived in London for the last 15 years and I have never lived on a road that feels so bizarrely dangerous as this.”

Reading Borough Council also formally asked Wokingham Borough Council to refuse the plans. It argued plans had failed to assess the full amount of traffic the headquarters would bring to the area.

But Wokingham’s highways officers said they believe that at worst there would be just a 2.3 per cent increase in the morning rush hour, and 1.4 per cent in the afternoon rush hour. They said this would be ‘unlikely to be discernible to users during these times.’

Transport planner Gordon Adam told Wokingham councillors: “The impact is already there and will get worse without this anyway.

“The assessment was done on the worst case. It wouldn’t in my view have a major impact over the impact that’s already there.”

Under the approved plans, the ECMWF will move its 300-person international headquarters from Shinfield to a large new building on the university’s Whiteknights campus.

Its HQ has been at Shinfield Park since 1979. There, 297 people from around the world carry out weather forecasting and research backed by 23 European governments including Britain.

Nick Paterson-Neild, planning director at the Stantec design firm, told councillors that the move would keep ‘highly-skilled jobs’ in the borough.

He said it would: “Ensure that the world’s leading global weather prediction intergovernmental organisation not only remains in the UK but in Wokingham Borough therefore assisting and maintaining the borough’s international profile ensuring many highly skilled jobs remain locally.”

Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee approved it unanimously on Wednesday, February 14.