Fringe Box



Bus Station’s Future To Be Considered By Council Executive

Published on: 23 Dec, 2016
Updated on: 23 Dec, 2016

Guildford Bus Station- Photos Mandy Millyard

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is to consider the future of the town’s bus station at its next Executive meeting on January 3 (2017).

GBC are known to have been negotiating with interested parties over the planned major redevelopment of the area to the north of North Street, between the Friary Centre and Haydon Place. John Lewis have long been rumoured to have been considering the opening of a branch in Guildford, as part of the project.

Cllr Matt Furniss.

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), lead councillor for infrastructure, said: “Unlocking the economic advantages of regenerating the North Street area, alongside a better and more convenient bus network, will help strengthen Guildford’s position as a leading regional destination as well as benefit local people and businesses.”

Earlier this year GBC and Surrey County Council (SCC) jointly commissioned design and planning consultants Arup to examine the options to relocate bus operations from the existing bus station.

The first stage of their work looked at the current situation and involved feedback from the bus operators and other stakeholders about passenger and operational needs. The second stage outlined the potential options.

Depending on Executive approval, the next step would be further stakeholder engagement before commissioning a third stage of more in-depth technical study of detailed design and traffic modelling. After this, the aim would be wider public consultation about the preferred bus solution option.

Cllr Furniss continued: “We have worked with a number of developers on the North Street scheme over the years. Each time, viability and integrated transport improvements for residents and visitors rely on removing the existing bus station.

“Replacing it with an alternative, upgraded on-street solution enables regeneration of this key brownfield site, providing new homes and jobs as well as increased retail and leisure opportunities to enjoy.

“Transport patterns have also changed and the outdated bus station no longer provides what bus users or operators need. We are committed to quality passenger facilities, including shelter and plenty of clear signage to bus stops and journey information.

“Looking in more detail at the potential new options, with input from partners and key stakeholders, will help design the best solution to make sure the heart of Guildford is easily accessible as well as thriving.”

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary and St Nicolas), leader of the opposition at GBC stressed the need for more people to use bus services to alleviate the town’s chronic congestion. She said: “A better and more convenient bus service is vital to persuading people to stop using their cars, particularly for short journeys.

“Twenty people in a bus could save twenty cars on the road but it’s a difficult market for the bus companies who face a chicken-and-egg situation, more frequent services will persuade more to use them but the service needs to be there in the first place.

“Perhaps the answer is smaller buses particularly in the town centre, but more of them. If we are to persuade people out of their cars, buses need to run later in the day, and a much better service at weekends. The Park and Ride should operate later and on Sundays.

“Unlike most of Europe our government doesn’t support public transport and it’s only because of the university’s subsidy of some of our bus services that we have done working later and more frequently.”

“The current bus station is in the heart of what will be the North Street redevelopment but the two aren’t compatible. So the relocation of the bus services will be vital to progressing North Street’s redevelopment and the consultation with stakeholders, and then residents, will be key to finding a solution that works. I understand all options are being considered. ”

Cllr Susan Parker

Susan Parker (GGG, Send) emphasised the importance of good bus services and was not in favour of removing the bus station. She commented: “We need our buses – and in order to cross the borough, we need an interchange – somewhere to change to alternative routes.

“For those who are dependent on buses, especially the oldest and the young, it is important that this place is safe, well-lit and has dry and comfortable places to wait.

“A bus station could be an elegant design with flats above and boutique shops at ground level. It would also be a good idea to use current technology so bus movements can be notified via an app – so that, as in other places, you can go to a stop when a bus is coming.

“I don’t see that removal of the bus station at North Street is desirable. It won’t improve bus connections or speeds.  We don’t need another retail superstore – there is too much local machismo about being the biggest retail centre.  We need a functioning town centre with a bus station.”

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Responses to Bus Station’s Future To Be Considered By Council Executive

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Apparently the council are considering possible sites including five car parks in the town.

    In reality, I consider there are only two sites that are viable – Mary Road and Bedford Road car parks. On-street bus bays are the least favourable option because of the poor connectivity and lack of comfortable waiting areas.

    But the council had other ideas for Bedford Road car park site as it is too valuable (being close to the river) to use it as a bus station.

    My earlier comments amply states the reasons for choosing Mary Road car park site as the best relocation site considering how well it fits in with traffic alterations to make the town centre pedestrian friendly using my suggestion.

    Maybe Dragon readers would make their preferences known to the council so that the option favoured by the most may be progressed. Would The Dragon consider running a voting exercise for this purpose?

    The sites are:

    1. Millbrook, Bright Hill, Bedford Road and Mary Road car park sites (Millbrook and Bright Hill are too far away from the railway station and Bright Hill is too hilly)
    2. Dolphin House (requires demolition – expensive waste)
    3. Guildford Railway Station (requires Network Rail’s agreement – most unlikely)
    4. Farnham Road bus station (too close to the river and council have other ideas)
    5. Friary Interchange (not possible – the reason for its relocation)
    6. On-street bus facilities (least favoured as inconvenient)
    7. Debenhams site (requires demolition – very expensive)
    8. Arriva depot (perhaps not large enough and too close to the river)
    9. Park and Ride sites (too distant from both the town centre and the railway station)

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    December 23, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    The report is dated 14th November, but only now is it being publicised by councillors.

    As usual, the actual report is not in the GBC news webpages, it’s hidden in the attached papers for the Executive Committee meeting on 3rd January, not that those links are quoted by either the councillors or media (Get Surrey, Guildford Dragon). When I posted a link (twice) as a comment in Get Surrey, it was immediately deleted without explanation.

    As to the actual ‘options’, tweeted conversation with Cllr Spooner elicited that this nothing to do with the town centre or Local Plan, just the North Street Plan. I beg to differ. The bus movement, bus stops, and terminus facilities are an integral part of all three plans, surely?

    Perhaps Cllr Spooner, the lead councillor for planning, is confused by discussions reported with the North Street developers. It seems they are the driver behind a new bus station, having rejected its continued inclusion in their development on economic grounds.

    I think most would agree the present station is a bit tired, and bow to others on the adequacy of the facilities, but I am concerned by the revelation that a move is essential. Necessary or not, is driven by the developer not the council.

  3. Chris Ogle Reply

    December 23, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    I see that the old chestnut of John Lewis is mentioned again. As Guildford have for so long failed to achieve this and John Lewis are now in Horsham I wonder if they are still interested??

  4. John Robson Reply

    December 24, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I’m no planning consultant or town planner, but given that the railway station is to be re-developed surely the logical solution would be to re-locate the bus station to the car park in front of the railway station and use more mini-buses etc.

    Then bingo! A joined up, integrated transport system.

    Surely the grown ups just need to sit around a table and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

  5. Jim Allen Reply

    December 24, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Many arguments as to where the bus ‘station’ should be located fail in the basic understanding they indicate of public transport. There is only one place in the world where a bus needs to ‘wait’ that is where it meets other forms of public transport.

    Thus the only bus waiting area needed in the whole of Guildford is at the railway stations where passengers need to connect between the two forms of transport. Bus interchange passengers can achieve this at this location. There is no need for a large space for a bus station inside or outside the town and it can be virtually anywhere. What is needed is the facilitation of connecting services and connecting routes to the main residential and shopping areas that including Ladymead and the town centre.

    What is so complicated about this? What is so difficult to understand? If Network Rail refuses to allow this to happen the council should use their compulsory purchase powers to obtain the station frontage – problem solved!

    • John Robinson Reply

      December 26, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Spot on Jim – sums up exactly what most rational people are thinking.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      December 29, 2016 at 10:29 am

      The bus station that has been operating for over three decades is being sold off for commercial reasons, so a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to take land at the railway station would not be strong enough. A CPO to take land for compelling public interest would be difficult to justify and there are other possible locations not so far away.

  6. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 24, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    From Wikipedia – “In the United Kingdom, most [Compulsory Purchase] Orders are made as subordinate legislation under powers given to Local Authorities in existing legislation (eg an Order for road works is made under the Highways Act 1980).

    Whilst the powers are strong, the Authority must demonstrate that the taking of the land is necessary and there is a “compelling case in the public interest”. Owners or occupiers can challenge this, and their objection will be heard by an independent inspector.”

    The current bus station has operated for the last 30 odd years and being sold off for commercial reasons, so a “compelling case” would not be strong enough for a CPO.

  7. Virginia Goodman Reply

    December 25, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Admittedly I haven’t lived in Guildford for 40 years, so I really can’t give a good opinion but what used to annoy me was having to walk from the railway station to the bus station.

    I agree with Jim Allen and John Robson that the new bus station should be near the railway station.

  8. Brian Holt Reply

    December 28, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    If Guildford wants people to give up their cars and come into Guildford by public transport then we need a bus station situated in the town centre. This is what most towns have. They cater for everyone’s use: shoppers, office and shop staff, senior citizens schoolchildren and students, and mothers with young children.

    There are already plenty of buses passing Guildford railway station. I have noticed that sites already mentioned such as Bedford Road car park area, Laundry Road and the Arriva bus garage site all get flooded when the river is high, so what is the point of using that area anyway.

    Why not build shops over the bus station? There are a few towns with underground bus stations. Another suggestion, if you want more people to use buses, for instance to the hospital, then provide car parking for passengers at the bus station site.

    Most towns the National Express coaches also use a bay for their services to London, etc.

  9. Neville Bryan Reply

    December 28, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I fail to see what possible objection Network Rail could have to the combination of rail and bus services. It seams the option is too easily dismissed above. Their combination would surely be in the mutual interest of both rail and bus operators?

    This solution design for me is one of the central cornerstones of the road to “fixing” guildford centre design, and traffic flow problems. A solution designed to allow provision for future platforms, and future rail traffic and bus travel, must then allow the development of the space over the platforms.

    This kind of development is common place in Europe, and being looked at more in London. Challenging yes. But you will have far more support for an iconic design here, rather than destruction of our environment and fields.

    Look ahead planners please.

  10. Keith White Reply

    December 29, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Guildford needs a transport hub to facilitate movements into, out of and through the town. It has to be convenient to people, i.e., enable quick changes to connecting routes and modes of transport, so that they want to use it. Thus, it has to be at the railway station. Walking up and down North Street, or similar, to find a bus stop, is simply inefficient.

  11. John Lomas Reply

    December 30, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Surely a railway station, a bus station and a main shopping/business area, all in close proximity, is a comparatively rare finding?

    A bus station is most useful to shoppers etc, so providing it has a shuttle type service to the railway, then proximity to the shops and businesses is the first consideration.

  12. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 1, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    The bus station needs to be at the bottom of the town, so that heavy shopping can be carried downhill at the end of a shopping expedition, rather than uphill.

    I favour the old Farnham Road bus station site, which is at the bottom of the High Street. It has direct pedestrian access to the railway station via the existing subway and raising the surface by about 12 inches would remove the likelihood of flooding from the river in all but the most severe conditions.

  13. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    January 2, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I find it ridiculous that Cllr Caroline Reeves is worried about the “chronic congestion” in the town centre and yet voted for a new five and a half storey car park to be built off Guildford Park Road. Quite obviously she has no understanding of the traffic problems in Guildford.

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