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Opinion: Mum About Town – Waitrose Saga And That Underpass

Published on: 19 Dec, 2012
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2012

Mum about TownIntroducing a new opinion column for The Guildford Dragon News, Mum About Town. Written by “Towny Mummy” it will especially interest people in Guildford with young children. Taking a look at what’s topical and what’s being talked about, the column will also contain reviews, funny anecdotes and ideas for entertaining children…

We begin with a topic that has been, and still is, hotly debated on this website.

Waitrose Saga And That Underpass

Plans for the new Waitrose store have been approved by the council, despite a large number of residents voicing concerns.  I am not sure that the people’s voice carries that much weight anymore, Guildford Borough Council seem determined to plough ahead anyway.

Opinion Logo 2I live a stone’s throw from the site and of course will visit and appreciate the new store, it being very convenient for me locally. However, the traffic fallout from this is going to be horrendous.

Whatever surveys have been done, if you are a Guildford resident, you just know it is going to be a nightmare. Apparently, so the report says, the delays caused are not going to be severe. That depends on whether you have to sit in them every day or not.

I used to live on York Road but thankfully, both I and my husband were able to walk to work so travelling at peak times was not an issue to us. We just didn’t drive anywhere between 5am and 7pm.

Again, in this instance, we are the lucky ones: we will benefit from the new store, being able to walk to it, but not have to suffer the inevitable problems from driving at peak times.

The site near York Road where the Waitrose store will be built.

The site near York Road where the Waitrose store will be built.

Since moving to Guildford eight years ago, I have been amazed at Guildford’s ability to clog up. It seems to take the smallest thing – rain, for example, and Ladymead is shut, and traffic backs up all over town.

Granted, the Waitrose store will regenerate a tired, dilapidated area that much needs it, and since I live in a shared ownership property, I know the saving grace that these are in Guildford and am pleased to see the inclusion of these (but why only 18 units out of 48?).

But how I love that underpass! I use it nearly every day. What nonsense Waitrose spouts on its website about underpasses being antisocial. This is Guildford! All we get are smiles and the sound of echoing children’s voices as we walk though.

My son attends the preschool on York Road and will hopefully get a place at Sandfield, so this will have a huge impact on me personally.

imagesAn underpass is much safer than a crossing; a crossing will just serve to clog up traffic more, and with a school and a preschool in close proximity, that’s a lot of mums/tired school children/younger siblings to trail across the road, not to mention the danger that comes with children waiting at the crossing and impatient Guildfordians jumping the lights.

I feel a sad sense of inevitability about this though, as the council has said already yes. So here we go… Let’s just hope that Waitrose bakery makes up for it!

Towny Mummy

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Responses to Opinion: Mum About Town – Waitrose Saga And That Underpass

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

    In my view, it is not necessary to close the subway in order to create the entrance to and the exit from Waitrose site. The subway could be extended towards Waitrose with a left hand bend under the area of the entrance lane and only steps provided. There is no need to have the ramp since the new crossing would also be provided. The subway could remain closed out of hours (as proposed for Waitrose car park) if anti-social problems are a genuine concern.

    Waitrose should also consider a left turn in and a left turn out only since a right turn exit into York Road would be well neigh impossible most of the time and it is potentially unsafe and could impede traffic flow.

  2. Peter Court Reply

    December 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I’m not sure about the rose-tinted specs view regarding antisocial behaviour – “This is Guildford!” as if we all lived in twee-ville, England where everyone’s a law abiding, respectable type, living in a smart house, driving round in a huge SUV, shopping at John Lewis, Cath Kidston and the like, sending the kids to private school.

    There’s a world out there which the yummy mummies either don’t recognise or steer well clear of. Fair enough. But you only have to read the local news to see a steady (albeit small) stream of stories regarding assaults etc. Two nations anyone? Having said that I’m not suggesting Guildford is the Bronx either.

  3. Caroline Reeves Reply

    December 22, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Surry County Council confirmed in writing some months ago that they plan to close both subways under York Road, regardless of any planning applications on the Bellerby site, whatever they may be. Fortunately for residents who walk to and from town, Waitrose have agreed to pay for the York/Stoke Road crossings to be improved and made safe for pedestrians in all four directions as part of the s106 agreement included in the planning application.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 23, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Subways provide safer crossings of busy roads and at the same time allow freer traffic flows. Guidance is available in the Department for Transport Standards and Advice Notes as to when a subway crossing or a footbridge should be considered as opposed to a surface crossing. These standards are meant to be used for trunk roads but Surrey County Council like all other County Councils generally do follow them. Reasons for departing from standards need to be robust and not based on some ideas or preferences of a particular body or personnel within the County.

    If a surface crossing that will replace an existing subway gives rise to higher risks for the pedestrians and if there is a serious injury or a fatality the Council could be sued for non-compliance with the national standards.

  5. Bernard Parke Reply

    December 23, 2012 at 10:39 am

    This is good news !

    A pity a solution is not imminent to solve the traffic congestion.

    Bernard Parke

  6. Towny Mummy Reply

    January 3, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Peter Court, your description of an SUV driving, Cath Kidston shopping, Private-School sending mummy is certainly not me! I am aware that antisocial behaviour does sometimes take place in subways, I was just saying that I have never experienced any problem in that subway, and think that this is a convenient excuse used by Waitrose as a reason for having to remove it.

  7. jim Allen Reply

    January 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Plans for the new Waitrose store have been approved by the council, despite a large number of residents voicing concerns. I am not sure that the people’s voice carries that much weight anymore, Guildford Borough Council seem determined to plough ahead anyway.

    I think of more concern is the statement: “Local authorities must not set their face against the policy of parliament by refusing to act in accordance with legislation or by frustrating its purpose.”

    Because if the council were following the Democratic purpose this application would not have suceeded. as for closing an underpass – madness!

  8. Caroline Reeves Reply

    January 5, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    It’s Surrey County Council who has chosen to close the subway, not Waitrose – see my previous post!

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