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Cranleigh Businesses Fear High Street Project

Published on: 28 May, 2024
Updated on: 29 May, 2024

Outside Maple News In Cranleigh With Campaign Poster. (Photo Emily Dalton/LDRS)

By Emily Dalton

local democracy reporter, story and photos

Cranleigh business owners remain sceptical about a “ridiculous” high street improvement project fearing it will “cut off trade”. The controversial plans to make Surrey’s largest village “safer and more attractive” for locals and visitors have gone back to the drawing board after local campaigning.

The proposals by Surrey County Council (SCC) included improving road safety and enhancing public spaces including widened footways over car parking spaces, removing free car parking, raised traffic tables, and pedestrianise Fountain Square.

The LDRS visited Cranleigh to speak to people about the scheme and to find out exactly why so many called for a u-turn.

Curtis Cornwell outside Celebration Cakes

Those the LDRS spoke to have questioned who came up with the “ridiculous” plans. “What does a raised [table] do for any business?” Curtis Cornwell, 21, manager at Celebration Cakes said. “Cars cannot go fast anyway because of all the traffic.”

Referring to those making the proposals, Maple newsagents owner Jay, 45, said: “They’re not from Cranleigh”. He added: “I don’t know how it’s going to work – it’s a small road. If you take parking from here, where else are they going to go?”

More than 1,108 people urged SCC to halt the changes to the High Street, more than double the number who reportedly responded to the initial consultation in 2022. Locals and businesses complained that the consultation methods were not thorough as they were unaware of the scheme.  The decision to put the plans back out for consultation was made in March.

One shop owner, who wished to be anonymous, said the development “might be worth it when it is finished” but until then the roadworks would cause massive issues.

Letters landed on residents’ doorsteps last week explaining the next steps of the proposal. Creating a new stakeholder group, representing Cranleigh residents and businesses, it will work together to develop potential plans for the High Street. The first meeting of the group is May 30.

Steve Duffell inside Cranleigh’s fishmonger’s.

Fishmonger Steve Duffell, 48, said the project could massively inconvenience the High Street with people not driving through Cranleigh. Steve said he wanted free car parking, which would increase footfall and help shop deliveries. “I’m just a selfish shop owner,” he added cheekily, “but I would want free car parking outside my shop.”

Free 30-minutes parking was floated around as a good offering for local businesses. Loading spaces for vans was also highlighted, as many of the local shops receive daily deliveries.

“We get a lot of passing trade through, people buying bacon rolls on the way to work,” Celebration Cakes manager Curtis said.

He added that the project will take “a lot of money away from the high street” and it is an “obscenely expensive… waste of money”. SCC has secured funding worth about £4 million from new developments and its own capital budget to improve road safety on the High Street and enhance the green spaces.

Outside Tuck Shop in Cranleigh High Street

“You can’t just carry out work because there’s money in the budget,”  sweet shop owner Tracey Scanlan said. She added that any works will affect business revenue so whatever works are carried out “must have a tangible benefit, whether that’s to businesses, pedestrians, or motorists”.

Amanda Marsh, 62, said she was “pleased [SCC] decided to change their attitude” to the narrow road in the village. Described as a thoroughfare – a primary passage route through traffic areas – Cranleigh High Street is a key route for emergency vehicles including ambulances.

In the new proposals, Amanda said she wanted to see “a thoroughfare that works” and “does not impede the emergency services”. She also raised concerns that disabled parking spaces needed to be included as they are vital for the elderly and limited mobility to access the shops.

Broken down into phases, phase one will consist of the part-time pedestrianisation of Fountain Square from Friday to Sunday. The works to Fountain Square include creating a “safe space” for people to sit and socialise with additional planting areas for new trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

A second phase would look at the design of improvement works along the High Street to be developed with the new stakeholder group. Additional phases could include pavement refurbishment, drainage improvements and other complementary works.

A spokesperson from SCC said: “Over the last two years, we’ve involved a working group, held two periods of public engagement and received further feedback from the community. We aim to create a welcoming environment that supports the local economy by encouraging people to stay longer in the village centre.

“We will work with the stakeholder group, residents and businesses to ensure that any designs can be constructed as efficiently as possible, with innovative materials which can be installed quickly and a programme of works that allows businesses to remain open at all times.”

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Responses to Cranleigh Businesses Fear High Street Project

  1. George Potter Reply

    May 28, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    Cranleigh is currently part of the Guildford constituency, not Jeremy Hunt’s. However, it’s nice to see that Conservative-run SCC have conveniently u-turned, just at the start of the election period, to allow Mr Hunt to claim a success for a constituency which he’s not the MP for but will be standing in.

    Whatever happened to the balanced reporting duty for news media during the election period?

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough and county councillor.

  2. Anthony Mallard Reply

    May 28, 2024 at 2:02 pm

    I am reminded by this traffic proposal, and others of a similar nature that have recently cropped up, that there are a significant number of vacancies for Tory candidates in the forthcoming election.

    Maybe those, perhaps with aspirations from that party currently serving in the county council, may like to apply. In Parliament they are, hopefully, less likely as individuals, to make such a nuisance of themselves to the detriment of local businesses and road users.

  3. Wayne Smith Reply

    May 28, 2024 at 8:50 pm

    Inadequate consultation,again? It seems that SCC learned nothing from their poor handling of the Guildford London Road Active Travel Scheme. Likewise, this seems to be a solution looking for a problem.

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