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GBC and University Scrap Over Cancellation of Roundabout Improvement

Published on: 12 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 12 Jun, 2021

The “Tesco Roundabout” viewed from Ashenden Road Google Streetview

By Hugh Coakley

Guildford Council and the University of Surrey have given different reasons for the cancellation of the improvements to the Tesco roundabout near a junction with the A3 and the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Funding of £2 million from the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership, which would have been matched by GBC, “will be lost” as a result.

Sustainable Movement Corridor Phase 3 plans included installing traffic lights and adding a bus lane to the Tesco roundabout. Click on image to enlarge.

In a statement on June 8, council leader, Joss Bigmore, said he was disappointed the project “is no longer going ahead” despite being supported by Surrey County Council, as the university “were not willing to transfer a small area of land alongside the highway”.

He said the project “would have reduced delays especially in the morning peak period when traffic queues back onto the A3”.

But in a counter-statement, a spokesperson for the university told The Dragon the project would be detrimental to traffic to and from the Surrey Research Park, owned by the university. They said their own traffic assessment showed “the current proposals will have a significant negative impact on the area. We have repeatedly sought to discuss these concerns with Guildford Borough Council, and remain willing to continue these conversations.

“We regret that these proposals would instead cause real harm to the jobs and economic value driven from the Surrey Research Park. We remain committed to working with Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council, the Royal Surrey County Hospital and others to deliver an integrated solution that solves rather than exacerbating local traffic issues in Guildford”.

Matt Furniss on the completed SMC Phase 1 pedestrian and cycle path through Bannisters Fields in 2019.

Paul Spooner (Conservative, Ash South & Tongham) was disappointed about “the failure of this project and yet another scheme that results in the loss of £2m of LEP funding including the return of funds already received”.

Cllr Paul Spooner

He said it was “unforgivable” for GBC to not reach agreement with the University over the “ransom strip” adding: “R4GV are too busy on witch hunts when they should be focused on compromise and resolution with a key stakeholder partner in Guildford.”

See: ‘Wisley Bid Errors Must Not Recur’ – GBC to Consider Constitutional Changes

The project, the third phase of the Sustainable Movement Corridor and a collaboration between GBC, Surrey County Council and Highways England, was originally to start in early 2021 but had been delayed to the summer with completion planned for winter 2021/22.

Included were the installation of traffic lights and widening parts of the roundabout to take a bus lane and tied into the A3 slip road improvements completed by Highways England in 2019.

The Sustainable Movement Corridor was conceived in 2015 with the aim of improving “sustainable travel for cyclists, pedestrians and bus users in the area between the University of Surrey and the Royal Surrey County Hospital”.

The first two phases included pedestrian and cycle paths across Bannisters Fields next to Tesco to the university and were part-funded by a £650,000 LEP grant. The new paths have been well received by the cycling community in Guildford and are well used including by university students.

A start date, Phase 2B, for the pedestrian and bus lane improvements in Guildford Park Road at the back of Guildford Train station is yet to be decided.

We have asked GBC to comment on the university’s claims but had not received a response at the time of publication.

(See also Pedestrian And Cycle Paths Improved But Still The ‘Poor Relation’ To Roads and First Stage Of Traffic Improvements Given The Green Light)

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test 7 Responses to GBC and University Scrap Over Cancellation of Roundabout Improvement

  1. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    June 13, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Stop letting the University of Surrey build student accommodation in and around the town. They own plenty of land, it seems, so let them build on that. We need affordable housing not more student accommodation in Guildford.

    • George Potter Reply

      June 14, 2021 at 12:18 pm

      The university isn’t the one building the student accommodation in the town, that is in fact the work of private developers looking to make money from the University of Law, Guildford School of Acting, and the University of Surrey students in the town.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham.

  2. Alistair Smith Reply

    June 15, 2021 at 7:52 am

    A failure which may impact access to government funding for Guildford in the future.

    From the very limited information publicly available this dispute doesn’t reflect well on the parties involved. Using an independent arbitrator is a well-established process to resolve disagreements in cases such as this. Was this approach considered?

    Alistair Smith is chair of The Guildford Society.

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    June 25, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    It is possible to change the design into a single Toucan crossing and associated changes to the layout and signals. I have sent such a sketch to GBC. Such a change in design would not need the strip of land that the university is not willing to release. The university had signed up for the scheme but at this late stage had raised concern about traffic flow.

    The university cited that the scheme would adversely affect flow into and out of Research Park. If the councils are content with the revised scheme using a single Toucan crossing, then for the safety of pedestrians who are using these dangerous uncontrolled crossings, they should go through the steps that are necessary to progress it despite the university’s perceived disadvantages.

    GBC, in their business case application to the M3 LEP, states: “Safety concerns are in University of Surrey/ Surrey Research Park – Owns key destinations on the route and some of the land required for the project. They have been involved in the development of the project. Confirmed in Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreement in principle to provide the land required and letter of support attached in Appendix A”

    Even one fatal accident is worth preventing and there had been many near misses. The introduction of pedestrian and cycle crossings would mean traffic signals would be needed to control flow on the roundabout but they would improve safety. Maybe this would cause a slight delay for the predominant movements but should be acceptable to prevent accidents – one recent one requiring an air ambulance.

    I would have thought procuring £2 million funding from some other source now that the M3 LEP funding has been lost, thanks to the university, is not beyond the ability of the councils.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      June 29, 2021 at 4:25 pm

      The sketch showing a single on-demand Toucan crossing, associated changes to lane layouts, signals and road markings is in the album ‘Suggested A3 solutions’ of https://tinyurl.com/A3-solutions

      Another point is the proposed two-stage crossings are right-hand turning whereas ideally, they should be left-hand turning facing the traffic.

      I appreciate that the councils would have to go through the process of evaluation and safety audits etc, afresh and if the scheme is found to be satisfactory, they should endeavour to find the funding necessary since this would ensure safety of the crossings currently uncontrolled.

      Widening to three lanes even if the strip of land was available is not a good idea without a bus bay like the one on the opposite side. A bus in the bus stop blocking “lane 1” could cause accidents when traffic attempts to move over hurriedly to the middle lane to pass around the bus.

      An on-demand crossing rather than two crossings tied to traffic lights as in the currently designed scheme could save time and reduce delays, especially during peak times if frequency of demand for the crossing is not high.

      The scheme would encourage the use of buses to this area with a safer crossing and hopefully reduce car journeys and congestion and accidents.

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    June 26, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Surely the fundamental issue for the area is not a minor reshaping of the “Tesco Roundabout”, but the general congestion in the area.

    The conversion on the Gill Avenue/Egerton Road roundabout has partially improved but has rapidly been overwhelmed by increased traffic.

    In 35 years the Research Park has continuously increased in size. Nurses and student accommodation has been added, as have facilities at Royal Surrey County Hospital. Just about all of this traffic has to be accommodated by Gill Avenue and all traffic, including that going to or from the Sports Centre, then goes through the traffic lights.

    It isn’t rocket science to see that it isn’t junctions, but a lack of capacity such as relief roads for all the estates that are needed.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    Martin Elliot has highlighted the problems of capacity at the junction of Gill Avenue and Egerton Road.

    I believe Guildford Borough Council has some plans for widening Gill Avenue but I am not sure what these are.

    ‘Tesco roundabout’ needs a re-thinking about how to create a better flow of traffic through it. A recently abandoned improvement scheme with two Toucan crossings and traffic lights to control the flow could be redesigned.

    An improved design would be with traffic lights only for the off-slip from the A3 and the west-bound traffic on Egerton Road on the roundabout. A single Toucan crossing could replace two Toucan crossings.

    To improve access to the northbound A3, a flyover from the roundabout on Egerton Road skirting the boundary of Bannister’s Field, would carry a single lane of traffic over the roundabout and merge with the on-slip from west-bound Egerton Road before merging with the A3.

    The current on-slip access from the roundabout would be blocked off to give a smoother flow for the west-bound traffic on the roundabout.

    This arrangement would be compatible with the existing A3, but a lane gain would be advantageous if and when the A3 is widened to three lanes.

    From the ‘Dennis roundabout’, a one-way link to the ‘cathedral roundabout’ could take local traffic and those heading for the south-bound A3 via the roundabout. The off-slip road from the A3 to this roundabout would be maintained.

    Of course such a redesign would have to go through the consultations and all other stages that are required, but I hope serious consideration would be given to achieve safety and the improvements to traffic flow.

    The sketch below shows this, https://app.photobucket.com/u/Gyratory1/a/57265881-e109-46fc-a486-286e39f85463/p/2a5b2c63-3431-4117-82f7-5639905001c1

    A rough estimate for the flyover is £3.5 million and it is comparable to the cost of the scheme that has been dropped.

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