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20mph Zones In Town Centre Proposed In GBC Air Quality Action Plan

Published on: 16 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 16 Jul, 2022

By Hugh Coakley

A 20mph zone in the wider town centre is one of the proposals out for public consultation in GBC’s draft air quality action plan. 

Air pollution, which is already exceeding national standards in places, has adverse health impacts including heart disease and cancer for those living and working in the areas affected, says the government.

The four-week consultation finishes on Friday, July 29.

Excerpt from the GBC draft Air Quality Action Plan showing an example 20mph zone. (Click on image to enlarge.)

The extent of the 20mph zone would be designed during feasibility studies at a later stage. The benefits, says GBC, would include cutting vehicle emissions by “improving the throughflow of traffic across the town centre and helping to achieve a model shift”.

Other key proposals include a daytime ban on HGVs, electric vehicle deliveries and local delivery hubs, anti-vehicle idling measures and the implementation of a clean air zone for all vehicles, including cars.

Traffic pollution library image.

The plan, for actions between 2022 and 2027, was developed in response to the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in October 2021. This puts a statutory duty on the council to act to reduce the levels of pollutants in the air.

Exceprt from the GBC draft Air Quality Action Plan (May 2022) show the contribution of different sources of air pollution in the AQMA zone.

In a review of the causes of the poor air quality, GBC says the majority of emissions arise from cars but there is a “significant contribution of emissions” from LGVs and HGVs and from buses, particularly at Park Street.

The plan states: “In Guildford town centre, a combination of number of vehicles, stop-start traffic caused by congestion, and the close proximity of properties to the carriageway (meaning that high concentrations don’t disperse as quickly as they would elsewhere) has led to high concentrations in a localised area”.

The report said that the gyratory and particularly Park Street, Millbrook and Onslow Street had predicted NO2 levels exceeding designated safe levels.

The estimated £5 million funding for the clean air and low emission zone has not yet been allocated. This may come from DEFRA through a competitive bidding process.

Enforcement of the various mitigations including the 20mph speed limit “would not be enforceable by cameras, nor traffic calming measures which would lead to episodes of acceleration resulting in higher emissions”. The plan says “It is likely that a large proportion of road users would adhere to the speed limit, especially where congestion already occurs”.

Boundary of the AQMA declared in October 2022.

The boundary for the Air Quality Action Plan includes the gyratory, Guildford Park Road past the back of the station Onslow Street up to Leas Road, Commercial Road joining the lower part of North Street, Millbrook past the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and the A3100 Portsmouth Road as far as Bury Street.

See also Letter: Changing Legal Limits Is Pretending Air Quality Problem Doesn’t Exist (June 2022) and Highways England Not Clear Why Guildford Is air Quality Hotspot (July 2021).

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test 18 Responses to 20mph Zones In Town Centre Proposed In GBC Air Quality Action Plan

  1. Wayne Smith Reply

    July 16, 2022 at 5:21 pm

    Another example of a Council paying lip service to “consultation”.

    A four-week consultation and this is the first we hear about it.

  2. Dennis Harvey Hepherd Reply

    July 16, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    Why limit the scope? Be bold and cover the whole borough with the 20mph limit (excluding the A3 and A31 as national roads).

  3. Christian Holmes Reply

    July 17, 2022 at 7:41 am

    Or, GBC could focus on fit-for-purpose cycling infrastructure that actually allows some people at least to leave their car at home. By that, I mean safe cycling routes and secure bike parking. Plus a viable public transport system for those who can’t cycle. Anything else is just applying a sticking plaster to a problem that is getting increasingly worse with continual development.

    £5 million is peanuts to address this problem. With the amount of profit being made by developers, why is the budget not of suitable magnitude?

  4. James Masterton Reply

    July 17, 2022 at 8:36 am

    GBC can shove their 20mph speed limit plan.

    Worst idea ever and will create more problems than it solves.

    This will not be allowed to go ahead and if it does, every step will be made to remove the measures.

    This is not the solution. Just another complete waste of time and money.

    The stupid councillors are so disconnected it’s untrue.

    • Sam Taylor Reply

      July 18, 2022 at 9:39 am

      I could not agree more James Masterton. This is a very poorly conceived proposal that tries to deal with the symptom, not the cause.

      The never-ending expansion of Guildford inevitably drives more people, more cars/transportation needs and therefore more pollution, and don’t think for a moment that a cycle lane will fix everything.

      What was once a nice town is now on track to choke itself to death.

    • Nathan Cassidy Reply

      July 18, 2022 at 1:12 pm

      How will this create more problems than it solves?

      Why do people need to drive so fast through a town centre? It’s an area which is full of shopping pedestrians who deserve not to have speeding SUVs flying past, endangering them and polluting their lungs.

      The moral case for this decision is laid out here with referenced points: https://www.20splenty.org/30mph_unjust

  5. Mike Smith Reply

    July 17, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    In twenty or thirty years’ time when we’re all driving electric vehicles, I feel sure that the council will find another reason to reduce the speed limit.

  6. Valerie Fance Reply

    July 17, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    This will not stop air pollution; it’s hard to get up to 20mph most times due to congestion.

    The congestion is due to the excessive house building programme that is still continuing when the roads are unable to cope with the extra vehicles.

    GBC is nodding through new developments all the time and disregards public comments.

  7. S Collins Reply

    July 18, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    Will it include bicycles?

  8. David Smith Reply

    July 18, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    On most of the roads selected you’ll be doing well to get to 30mph. Maybe we could look at this another way – slower speed fewer accidents, particularly in Bridge Street.

  9. Donna Collinson Reply

    July 18, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Following a petition to GBC by residents, the area north from that proposed, to Ladymead (A25), an area comprising Recreation Road, Stocton Road, and Josephs Road which considerably breaks WHO safe air pollution limits, is already approved for a 20mph limit and is awaiting funding for the signs to be put up. No traffic calming measures are needed following a traffic speed survey.

    Residents are very much looking forward to the implementation of a 20mph promised in the 2022-3 budget. 20mph also is safer for pedestrians and cyclists, encouraging less car reliance.

    Donna Collinson is chair of the Stoke next Guildford Residents Association

  10. Brian Creese Reply

    July 19, 2022 at 10:17 am

    If we want to have better air quality we need fewer cars in town and that means either more bikes and/or more buses. Park & Rides can be brilliant – see Bath or Norwich for example – but GBC are abandoning existing Park & Rides when they should be creating more, while bus routes are becoming more restricted when we need better and more frequent bus services.

    But 20mph is the best the council can offer. Too little, too late.

    Brian Creese is the chair of the Guildford Labour Party

  11. Barry Williams Reply

    July 20, 2022 at 9:53 am

    It’s not only air pollution that harms – we also have noise pollution on the major arteries into/from Guildford

    For example, the noise of speeding motorbikes yammering exhausts and blipping throttle changes along the A281 heading south from the rowing club on the Wey can be heard echoing back even when far beyond Shalford Common.

    Could we have noise plus camera monitors installed on that section please?

  12. Dave Middleton Reply

    July 20, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    I rather doubt that a 20mph zone will actually reduce emissions. To travel at 20mph surely a vehicle will most likely be in a lower gear than one travelling at 30mph. This means that the engine revolutions per minute will be about the same, or even higher, burning more fuel and very likely creating more emissions.

  13. J Curruthers Reply

    July 22, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    If you reach more than a crawl at peak pollution times, then the proposed speed limit will make no difference.

    In fact, it will probably make it worse as everyone will then accelerate hard when reaching the end of the zone (a bit like speed bumps make pollution worse as people brake & accelerate).

    And it won’t make any difference to cycling, I’ve been waiting the best part of 40 years for safe cycle routes across the centre of Guildford that don’t involve getting off and pushing.

  14. Clive Bodicker Reply

    July 24, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    Sadly many of those in the surrounding suburbs and villages see Guildford town and its residents as merely an obstacle in the way of their over-powered and/or oversized car. Obsessed as they are with building additional crossings over the railway and river.

    A 20mph limit does not go far enough. Bring in an emissions zone and punitively charge all ye who enter in private, fossil-powered vehicles.

  15. Simon Firth Reply

    July 25, 2022 at 8:21 am

    Well 20 mph for the safety of cyclists considering the lack of joined provision – if you address the safety concerns for cyclists, then the air quality will be improved by the general shift from cars to cycling.

    If there was a cycling network meeting LTN 1/20 then there would probably be no need to reduce the speed to 20mph. Or as we have seen, the reduction of speeds in other more rural roads from 60 or 50 down to 40.

    If the cyclist is safe and separated (just like a pedestrian) there is no need to reduce the speed.

    In reply to S Collins it is unlikely, speed limits generally apply only to motorised vehicles.

  16. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 25, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    If GBC really wants to reduce pollution, it should carry out the promised Local Plan review.

    The plan, as it currently stands, will be putting up to another 60,000 more cars on our roads, and the resulting additional pollution. The majority of these will not be electric, as the support infrastructure does not exist.

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