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Citizens Speak: Waitrose and the Expected York Road Underpass Closure

Published on: 24 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 26 Mar, 2013

Waitrose Opinion imageThe Guildford Dragon NEWS wondered what local people were thinking about the Waitrose development, the applications for judicial reviews by the Guildford Vision Group and Friary owners, Hermes, and plans to close the nearby underpass at York Road. 

All those interviewed lived or worked in the area around Artillery Road, just to the north of York Road and the interviews were conducted on Saturday, March 23rd by or in the York Road underpass that is scheduled to be closed.

Ms Killick
Ms 300I am aware that it is intended to put a Waitrose here but I would of rather have an Asda. I completely disagree with the underpass being filled in. Crossing the road is a big problem in my area and if I had to choose between Waitrose and the underpass I’d chose the underpass. My main concern is the school up there; I’ve got a younger child at the school and I’m not at all happy with the light situation. It’s bad enough walking up there with your children. It’s only a matter of time, I think, before a child is pushed out into the road. You’ve got the school just up there. I know they may argue that there’s another underpass but nine times of ten, when it’s wet, that underpass is completely flooded, while this one isn’t. If they’re going to get rid of anything, do away with the other one. This is the most important. I didn’t know about the judicial reviews but I think it’s good they’re challenging it. When it comes to traffic, Guildford is horrendous anyway, but I can’t see that it’s going to improve traffic. Actually, don’t think we need another big supermarket. There’s already Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer. This area is the wrong place.
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Rachael Butler
DSC_0397_1 300I’ll definitely use the new Waitrose; I think it’s a good idea. It could potentially cause more traffic.  I’d prefer the underpass to stay open as I always use the underpass, but I’m a creature of a habit, if I can’t across the road to get to Waitrose, I’ll use the surface crossing. I didn’t know about the judicial reviews but I’m in favour of it.
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Margarita Madrid
DSC_0400 300It’s a good thing and I’ll use it. There might be an effect on traffic but I think with some clever changes here, it might not be an issue. I like Waitrose for its high-end products. I’m not so sure why they want to close the underpass, as I don’t think it’s an issue, I use it everyday. I haven’t got a strong opinion on the underpass or a surface crossing. I knew about the judicial reviews, although I don’t know why they were made but it’s always good in a democracy to have a variety of opinions. There used to be a Waitrose here ages ago anyway and I love Waitrose.
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Olivia Stockbridge
DSC_0405 300Yes, I would use Waitrose as I don’t have a car and I live in town. It’ll be great to have a big supermarket. I think it will have really bad effects on the traffic; Guildford is already pretty bad. I walk to work opposite walk road, traffic at 4’clock is pretty much deadlock; I don’t know how it will get any better. I think the closing of the underpass is a good thing. It’s dangerous; especially when the lights cut out. You can’t see anything, it’s not safe for children to walk around, I’d much rather have a surface crossing.
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Mike West
DSC_0408 300Yes I’d use Waitrose. I like Waitrose as it’s slightly higher quality and I only live round the corner. It’s good that they’re going to have a car park, so less people will try and park down our road. With the traffic though, that roundabout is horrible and that’s the problem. I did write to the council about them changing the traffic light timing. They cause grid lock. They said they were looking into it but they’ve done nothing so far. I’d much rather have a surface crossing as the underpass is not the nicest place to come under through at night, especially when you’re walking home from the pub. I don’t really want my girlfriend walking through it. I didn’t know about the judicial reviews but they sound annoying. Personally I don’t use the Friary it’s all rubbish, I buy my standard shopping stuff online so a supermarket nearby is ideal.

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What do you think? Why not add your views, answering the same questions asked of our interviewees:

  1. Do you know Waitrose have been granted planning permission to build a store here?
  2. Do you think it’s a good idea and would you use it?
  3. Do you know that the Guildford Vision Group and Hermes have applied for judicial review to stop it from proceeding and is that a good thing?
  4. What effect do you think the development will have on the traffic in the area?
  5. Should the York Road underpass be closed?

You can easily make your views known too. Just use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below to give your answers…

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test 11 Responses to Citizens Speak: Waitrose and the Expected York Road Underpass Closure

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    March 24, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    From all accounts Waitrose is a good shop and will be an asset for Guildford. The traffic, which is already horrendous, can only get worse. Presumably, it will remain busy through to late evening. I would imagine those who live in the town centre will benefit most as they will walk. Might it affect Sainsburys in the High Street causing them to close down? Of course, that’s competition.

    I guess the cost of the judicial review will be picked up by the counciil tax payer. I hope The Guildford Vision Group are doing this in the best interests of residents and not just out of spite against the Council! I presume Hermes are simply trying to protect their commercial interests.

  2. James Gross Reply

    March 24, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I was aware of this proposal, living just across York Road on Stoke Fields and was absolutely in favour.

    We currently have to drive to Tescos and would welcome a decent supermarket within walking distance. Might have to invest in a pull-along ‘granny trolley’ but otherwise great!

    I’ve worked in lots of town centres across the UK and everybody always believes their congestion is worse than everywhere else. I think the simple fact is that in the 21st century all town centres are clogged with cars and it probably will take a bit of time for the new store to work itself out in terms of traffic movements. However, in the long run I’m sure it will be fine.

    I’m not in favour of the judicial review, I guess it’s predictable from the commercial interests but not helpful from local groups. Most people I’ve spoken to in our area support the application.

    As to the underpass, I’m in favour of its closure, but disappointed that more could not have been done to join up the obvious links of Haydon Place and Stoke Fields. I guess what we’ve got is a compromise but I think more could have been done to make a better environment for pedestrians.

    I don’t think people should be forced underground while cars roll on overhead. Let them stop and back up a little while mothers and toddlers and other residents cross on wide, generously timed crossings. Sail before steam!

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 25, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I’m in favour of maintaining subways and in this case I believe, as I’ve said before in these columns, it could be extended, if so required, to accommodate the intended entrance and exit to Waitrose site. In conjunction with new surface crossings, the ramps could be removed and only steps need be provided. Thus a safer crossing could be retained for the children attending nearby schools.

    I suppose Waitrose could maintain it under an agreement with the council so that it can be kept clean, well lit and possibly remain closed out of hours, as would their car park, to avoid anti-social activities.

    I’m uneasy about Guildford Vision Group’s (GVG) role in calling for a judicial review. I’m sure they have the best interest of Guildford residents in this matter but I believe they could have done more informally through consultations with the council and by seeking and involving residents’ democratic views in this process before going down this path.

    GVG seems to have lost a lot of support judging by the comments from many Guildfordians. And why is GVG a limited company? The Council seems to have alienated Hermes by leaving them out of North Street development. Tenderers and understandably Hermes are none too pleased about that. So was this a wise move by the council? All in all it seems nothing much will happen to improve Guildford for a long time. And that is a terrible shame.

  4. Jan Todd Reply

    March 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I thought the closure of the subway was unrelated to the Waitrose proposal, that it was part of a Surrey County Council programme to fill in subways across the county, and that when they did so, the crossings would be improved as a result?

    Many local people will access Waitrose in that location on foot, and I can’t imagine anyone driving to it at peak times (at least, I doubt anyone in their right mind will do it more than once) and at non-peak times the traffic is quite light. If there is to be a traffic survey, which I believe Guildford Vision group is calling for, wouldn’t it make sense to wait until the site is built on, then include the site in any new traffic scheme?

    As for Sainsburys in the High Street, they could do with some competition to force them to up their game – shopping there is so depressing…

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 25, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I refer readers back to my letter: “Waitrose Traffic & Subway Closure”. It can be found by searching The Guildford Dragon archives, using the search box top right, and searching on “Waitrose subway closure Reeves”.

    This is what I said in conclusion:
    “…..The main issue, I believe, is making worse the already congested network. Cllr Caroline Reeves mentioned at the Planning Meeting the introduction of a green man crossing of York Road at its junction with Stoke Road. In addition to the proposed crossing for Waitrose, this would mean extended waiting at the signals. The cumulative effect of traffic tailing back on all four directions during peak periods has not been well publicised. It is possible that this will lead to gridlock.

    Even assuming locals will soon learn to stay away from shopping during busy periods, the congestion is very likely to get a lot worse.

    It would be interesting to know what Surrey County Council’s current thinking is on this. Maybe Cllr Reeves also knows something?”

    I got no response from Cllr Caroline Reeves at the time. Perhaps she can respond now?

  6. Jan Todd Reply

    March 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I was very struck by what James Gross said: “Let the motorists stop and back up a little while mothers and toddlers and other residents cross on wide, generously timed crossings. Sail before steam!”.

    Bibhas Neogi’s concerns are that traffic will tail back and experience ‘extended waiting at signals’. So, what if they do? Might one or two motorists then think “Blow this for a game of soldiers”, or words to that effect, “I’ll catch a bus/train/use the Park & Ride scheme next time.”

    If the development of the Bellerby site is scuppered because whatever is built there might (only might, mind, nobody actually knows at this stage) increase traffic, then we are putting the needs of motorists above everyone else’s needs. Aren’t we?

  7. Caroline Reeves Reply

    March 26, 2013 at 8:46 am

    The work on modelling different traffic scenarios, including the potential effect of various planning applications across the town centre, continues.

    As Bibhas Neogi is aware, the planning application for the Bellerby site is under threat of a Judicial Review and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further until a conclusion has been reached.

  8. Maurice Barham Reply

    March 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    As far as I can see, there is no real justification for the total closure and removal of the York Road subway. It is a valuable infrastructure asset which provides safe, traffic-free passage under York Road for some 2600 able-bodied people daily (the foodstore consultant’s figures).

    The only part of it which needs to be demolished for the project is the single ramp on the south side to allow the widening of York Road and to provide an entrance to the proposed car park. The existing steps on the south side could be retained so that the subway could continue to be used by the able-bodied, leading them direct to the foodstore if desired.

    A surface crossing, smaller than is envisaged by the proposal could then be provided for the remaining 230 daily users: mothers with buggies, the elderly, the disabled and including some 80 cyclists. It could be placed near the Boiler Room, with level access from Church Road and Stoke Fields, leading directly to Haydon Place, Sandfield School and the town centre. This location would create a traffic management challenge but I am sure that an imaginative solution could be found, provided that there is sufficient will to find one.

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    In reply to the comment from Jan Todd: It used to take 4.5 hours from Guildford to Dover before motorways and dual carriage-way trunk roads were built. It now takes 1.5 hours. Traffic jams are a waste of national resources and they pollute the environment. Pedestrians and traffic should be treated fairly when sharing road space, otherwise there is no point in improving roads. We could all sit in traffic jams daily, waste fuel and our time while pedestrians enjoy unfettered rights to cross roads at their leisure.

    In reply to Cllr Reeves’ comment. Cllr Reeves has ducked my question. It was nothing to do with the Waitrose planning application per se. I was seeking an explanation from Surrey County Council as to why they have decided to fill in all subways against national policy of providing them as safe crossings of heavily trafficked roads. Reference should be made to the Department for Transport’s standards on this topic. Cllr Reeves said SCC wrote a letter to somebody about it. I wanted to know who they have writen to and was this public knowledge.

  10. Jan Todd Reply

    March 27, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Maybe pedestrians and traffic should be treated fairly when sharing road space, as Bibhas Neogi says, but I feel that in this case motorists’ needs are being given priority. And I really believe we should be encouraging people out of their cars, as long as they are offered viable alternatives.

    Plenty of people simply prefer to ‘sit in traffic jams and waste fuel’ than walk or use public transport. It is almost like a hangover from the 80s ‘lunch is for wimps’ mentality which dictated that if you didn’t drive a car and were reduced to using the tube, you hadn’t ‘made it’. It’s cultural as much anything else. (None of this is backed up by scientific fact, just an observation!)

    I quite like the sound of what Maurice Barham is suggesting……

  11. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 28, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I don’t think anyone in their right mind would prefer to sit in traffic jams and waste fuel rather than walk or use public transport, if they could. For most journeys within walking distances, it would be senseless to drive during peak periods.

    The use of public transport makes sense if they conveniently cover the entire journey but I guess, in many cases, long walks or even taxi rides are needed to complete the journeys. Regular home to work and back journeys for many would only be partially covered by public transport and even then long waits and miserable connections could be frustrating and time consuming on a daily basis not to speak of the expensive fares that are charged. I’m sure those who can use public transport do use them. It is almost insulting to say they have an ego problem in using public transport.

    Traffic problems are by and large caused by those passing through Guildford because there are no viable alternative routes. There is scope to improving matters by injecting some innovative thinking to the efficient use of existing road space, coupled with some modest funding for building diversionary routes to alleviate congestion around the gyratory.

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