Fringe Box



Letter: A Guildford Ring Road Is A Better Solution

Published on: 27 Feb, 2022
Updated on: 27 Feb, 2022

From: David Ogilvie


In response to Letter: Another Master Plan Will Not Help

Richard Mills is wrong. Master plans are necessary and useful in ensuring the best use of land and resources and yes, they do need updating as circumstances change.

I speak with 50 years of practice as an architect and town planner. What are Mr Mills’ qualifications in master planning that he can dismiss it so easily?

Patrick Geddes’ master plan for London created the green belt as a lung for London that has lasted 70 years; that is until the GBC Conservative-controlled borough council started giving it away to developers without betterment.

What we need for Guildford town centre are the following:

  • Fewer traffic accidents and deaths
  • Less traffic pollution
  • Less traffic noise
  • More pedestrian areas to link the station to the town centre
  • Greater access to an improved riverside
  • More landscape and planting
  • Better economic prospects
  • Greater traffic resilience so that a blockage in one spot will not bring the town centre to a halt.

All the above is possible but it will take time money and application.

Photo from 2018 shows Guildford’s clogged gyratory.

It will not be achieved by cycling, from which many are excluded, and is not attractive in a  cold, wet,  environment with no dedicated cycleways.

It will not be done with buses due to insufficient density of residential development to support a fully developed bus network to serve the town.

It will not be achieved by reducing the town centre traffic by 70 per cent as proposed by Markides Associates, GBC’s traffic consultant. This plan will make the Friary Bridge two way and pedestrianize Bridge Street. The resulting lack of visitors will strangle Guildford town centre commerce.

Yes, Park & Ride is part of the answer, if it is well designed, for those that wish to go to the town and not to the other side of town.

A Guildford ring road connecting the town centre perimeter car parks is a better solution.

The better solution is a ring road that connects all the town centre perimeter car parks and allows people to go to the town and round the town.

The 1960s County Highways plan for Guildford started to get it right by proposing a new town centre river crossing (see diagram)

1960s County Highways plan for Guildford.

I also attach my own proposals of a complete ring road that will achieve the best results for Guildford. Yes, it will take time and money but it will deliver in the long term.

Yes, the approved Solum development at the station is a problem. However, the many £millions that GBC will gain from the sale of land in North Street to St Edwards, the developers, will enable it to buy the Solum site currently occupied by a temporary steel car park. This purchase will open up a gap in the Solum great wall of Guildford and provide the space for the new river and rail crossing.

See also Letter: It Is Not Too Late For An Essential New East-West Route

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Responses to Letter: A Guildford Ring Road Is A Better Solution

  1. A Calladine Reply

    February 27, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    “It will not be achieved by cycling, from which many are excluded” not hard to see why town planning is so bad in the UK with people like David Ogilvie in its profession.

    Far from excluding, cycling is inclusive and despite what some people say and think, young, old, able-bodied, disabled bodied people can do it, in the case of disabled with modified bikes and e-bikes ensuring that topography is not an issue. There really is no excuse for this “in the box” thinking as examples in other countries have shown.

    Instead, MrOgilvie bases much of his ideas around prioritising drivers. The same failed policy that got us into this mess. Far from being inclusive, driving requires training, a licence and a lot of expense. But I suspect he has never had to confront this issue because he’s never had to worry about it.

    I only hope the next generation of town planners have more foresight and learn the lessons from the past.

    • Jan Messinger Reply

      February 28, 2022 at 8:15 pm

      Try going from the A322 to A281 in rush hour time. I can assure you the only place with little or no traffic is the town centre.
      It’s the surrounding villages with the heavy traffic. Try going along Shamley Green to Wonersh from Ewhurst Cranleigh areas at peak times. It’s a nightmare.

      Guildford town centre doesn’t need to become even more elitist.No one will come to it soon.

      Bullet point 3, less traffic noise. Try living on an A road around Guildford town centre, then you will know what traffic noise is. As for less traffic pollution yes sometimes vehicles are stationary in the town centre because of traffic lights but pollution in our surrounding villages is awful.

      Try telling the residents that are near the A3 or other major A roads in this Borough, about pollution. Too much is about the town centre. Think about the wider borough of Guildford, this is not a town-centre-only issue. Part of this is the issue of the density of the population in South East England.

    • John Perkins Reply

      March 1, 2022 at 11:51 am

      Inclusive? Really?

      Then cycling does not exclude those with a loss of balance due to hearing loss, poor eyesight, breathing problems or almost any physical problems caused by sickness or accident. Nor those unable to climb steep hills, particularly those with a need to keep an urgent appointment and little time. Nor those in wheelchairs or mobility scooters or using other other mobility aids.

      Nor does it exclude those with pushchairs or dogs or anyone with shopping or other heavy items to carry, especially in the rain.

      The price of a bike (as opposed to a death trap) is at least £300 plus insurance against theft, which is a lot money to someone who doesn’t have any.

      I realise that there are ways around most of these issues, but the arrogance of fit cyclists who believe anyone can ride a bike is almost offensive.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 27, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    The transport problem is further out. If the A3 tunnel was built town centre disruption would not be required, as 50 per cent of traffic would have somewhere else to go to travel past the town but not through or close to the centre.

  3. David Ogilvie Reply

    February 27, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    A Calladine has written just the knee jerk response I expected from a fit and able cyclist with a blinkered view of the total infrastructure picture. He should appreciate that the green dotted arrows in my diagram represent traffic free cycle and pedestrian routes through the town centre.

  4. Keith Reeves Reply

    February 27, 2022 at 11:20 pm

    If a key had been provided we could “appreciate that the green dotted arrows in [the] diagram represent traffic-free cycle and pedestrian routes”. I had wondered initially if they were meant to represent some form of metro/light rail network.

    I think the suggestion that Solum would sell part of their site is wishful thinking, to say the least. That horse has bolted, whether we favour that development or not.

    I’m also interested to know what swathe of the town centre would be demolished for, say the construction of the western tunnel portal and other associated infrastructure? A Callandine is correct in detecting a homage to post-war, car-centric town planning.

  5. David Ogilvie Reply

    February 28, 2022 at 10:45 am

    The proposal that I have put forward is designed to provide a traffic-free town centre while maintaining the existing level of vehicle access to the town centre.

    The tunnel proposal alone will remove 28 per cent of traffic from the town centre. The potential tunnel portals already exist at York Road car park and opposite the Millbrook car park. Thus, the tunnel could be constructed without the need for any demolition. I am happy to provide details.

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      March 3, 2022 at 6:10 pm

      Good luck with a single carriageway highway portal emerging in the area of the slope or retaining wall along Quarry Street with limited cover between the tunnel crown and the foundations of the buildings along Quarry Street. Not to mention probably closing Quarry Street to construct a headwall as tunnels don’t just pop out of the ground in very close proximity to residential properties.

      People need to forget fantasy engineering solutions. You only have to think about the eye-watering cost of infrastructure tunnels in the UK. When was the last time that a highway tunnel was built in the UK that wasn’t part of the strategic network or provided a river or estuary crossing? Furthermore, the only possible funder would be central government. You have to be supremely optimistic to imagine them providing Surrey County Council with £75 million+ for a local road tunnel.

  6. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 28, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    I have suggested an extended tunnel to that proposed by David Ogilvie. This would avoid building the tunnel portals at Shalford Road and York Road.

    The West tunnel portal could be located off-road at the northern end of Shalford Park and the East portal off the A25 in Stoke Park and connected to the A25 with a roundabout close to the hotel entrance. A sketch for this tunnel is in

    Road improvements are necessary to free up safe space for pedestrians and cyclists.

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