Fringe Box



Letter: More Needs To Be Done To Make Alleyway Safer Between The River And Woodbridge Road

Published on: 7 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 7 Feb, 2016

From John Gibson, general manager, National Trust River Wey & Godalming Navigations

I have watched with rising alarm and concern the reports of incidents taking place along the alleyway between Woodbridge Road and Walnut Tree Close. 

I use it every emails letterday and it is a horrible path. While welcoming the news that CCTV is to be installed along with proposed additional lighting I do feel there is more scope to do much better here.

The current local plan has an aspiration to create pedestrian/cycling access along the east side of the river i.e. the opposite side to the towpath.

The National Trust agree with this aspiration which has already been partly achieved through reserving space for access along the river side from the A25 at Ladymead to Dapdune/Walnut Tree Close railway bridge through the planning process when the old electricity site was redeveloped by Fairview Homes and Wickes/Travis Perkins were redeveloped.

Unfortunately, this path at present is a dead end and goes nowhere stopping at the railway bridge!

This existing path to the east of the river and running north from the A25 (to the rear of Wickes/Travis Perkins/Fairview Homes) only requires a short extension under the railway viaduct in order to link into the existing footpath (the alleyway) alongside the northern boundary of the cricket ground and the pedestrian bridge across the river adjacent to the railway bridge.

The Alley that runs from Woodbridge Road to Woodbridge meadow behind the Sea Cadets hut on the left.

The alley that runs from Woodbridge Road to Woodbridge meadow behind the Sea Cadets hut on the left.

It would make sense to me that this path is connected under the railway bridge utilising the spare arch and connected to the path running down the alleyway.  The current pedestrian bridge over the river adjacent to the railway bridge could be widened and improved with drop down ramps on the west side joining into the towpath.

The horrible grotty alleyway could be widened by removing the concrete cricket ground boundary wall – only a few feet of the cricket ground/rear access to Dapdune Wharf/Network Rail/GBC/Sea Cadets  would be required to do this.

A new see-through mesh boundary fence could replace the wall. The footpath could be re-designated as a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians – there are already lots of people cycling (illegally) along the footpath so it makes sense to bow to the inevitable.

The upgrading of the path and bridge over the river connecting on to the towpath would provide a good link for cyclists travelling from the east side of Guildford and who do not want to head north to the A25 cycle route before turning west to run down to Ladymead then south to come into the town centre via Walnut Tree Close or towpath.

However, the greatest benefit would be for all users of the path by creating a pleasant and hopefully safer path for all and removing what is one of our truly most ghastly hidden away paths.

In time it should be possible to extend the path on the east side of the river through Dapdune Wharf and right along the river via the site of the County Court and Odeon cinema spaces.

It would go a long way to Guildford Borough Council demonstrating real and early commitment to opening up access to the river and delivering the Town Centre Master Plan – at a reasonable and achievable cost providing real benefits to local residents and visitors alike.

As with all such ideas there are of course difficulties and challenges to resolve, land ownership and funding being but two of them.

I don’t think the technical issues are that difficult to overcome. Much of the land involved belongs to either Guildford Borough Council or Network Rail while the National Trust, Guildford Sea Cadets and Guildford Cricket Club hold leases on some parts of the land.

There is also I think charitable issues around use of cricket club land. Funding as we all know is extremely difficult at the moment but there might be scope for some funds to come through transport plans or LEP.

I would like to believe that if all parties with a stake in the area were willing to work together for improvements that benefit all that I am sure a way could be found that would transform this rather dingy, unsavoury, sad looking and neglected footpath into a more open, light, welcoming and safe space to use.

Finally I have got to give credit to GBC’s cleansing team who do a great job working hard to keep the alleyway free from filth and rubbish. If only Network Rail could do half as well with all the rubbish trapped behind their fences it would help a great deal.

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Responses to Letter: More Needs To Be Done To Make Alleyway Safer Between The River And Woodbridge Road

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    February 7, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Good to see that letter from someone who cares.

  2. Robin Bowen Reply

    February 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Excellent idea.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    February 8, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    There are so many people with good ideas and common sense by the bucket, perhaps we need a ‘gathering’ so that all the problems of Guildford could be sorted out in a few measly sessions.

    Give the instructions to the council and tell them you have no set budget – but do the job to the best possible standard possible without spending on unnecessary consultants and items.

    It can be done, if the will is there.

    We have so many trained personnel in the borough we could do the lot ‘in borough’.

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