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Letter: I Am Working to Remove the Danger of the Existing Level Crossing at Ash

Published on: 6 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2021

Ash level crossing

From: John Rigg

GBC’s lead councillor for Regeneration and Major Projects and a R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity

I thank all for their feedback so far on the Ash Road Bridge planning application (19/P/01460) and hope I can clarify some of the points further in advance of the planning committee meeting tonight, January 6.

A full and detailed planning application has been submitted by our Corporate Project Team, with additional information submitted to address issues raised during determination.

Welcoming 491 people to two pre-application consultation events, and receiving 217 formal responses, compares very well with previous similar events across Guildford and especially in the Ash and Tongham area. For example, the consultation on Land East of White Lane (18/P/01950) had 23 attendees.

Following the submission of the road bridge planning application in August 2019, three consultation periods have been held, with responses summarised and included in the report written by planning officers for the planning committee.

Details of the alternative routes considered have been included in the planning application, including an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each and consideration of the impact of such routes on the traveller site and land east of Foreman Road.

It is important to remember that the proposed scheme includes the permanent diversion of an ‘A’ road and even though a shorter route may have its advantages, they have to be weighed against the safe operation of the public highway. Moving the bridge further north would not meet highway design standards and would be unlikely to be accepted, especially when this acceptable solution is possible.

Neither the draft or final versions of the Strategic Development Framework Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) show traffic signals at the Dover Arms roundabout.

Following feedback from our consultation, extra traffic calming on Grange Road is proposed to be installed before the opening of the road bridge and it has been agreed that monitoring will be carried out to establish if further measures are needed to manage the routing of vehicles; these will be a condition of planning permission being granted.

Documents, including a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP), have also been created which explain the scheme’s construction management. This includes a review of noise and vibration prevention plans, which will consider whether measures such as noise barriers or insulation are needed.

There are currently no plans for re-homing. The CEMP and other documents will be updated to include the most up-to-date design information and contractor methods before constructions begins.

Funding for the project will be reviewed separately by the Council in the next couple of months, and only if planning and funding are approved will the scheme go ahead.

There is a big difference in the risk of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists using a signal-controlled road junction and a level crossing. Trains take much longer to stop than vehicles and cannot swerve to avoid a collision, and a collision with a train will usually result in a severe, often fatal, accident.

Operation of a level crossing also differs to a signal crossing with opening and closure of the level crossing, governed by the rail timetable, leading to inconsistent waiting times and extended queues, particularly during peak periods.

The level crossing timings cannot be adjusted to reflect the volume of traffic. At times, the queue of traffic from one barrier closure does not clear before the next closure, meaning that motorists may wait over 10 minutes.

The resulting frustration may lead to drivers taking more risks at the crossing, especially if they are likely to miss the train they are trying to catch.

The increase in rail services on the North Downs line will only increase delays, potential misuse and risk to the public.

Data from the Safety Management Information System for Ash level crossing shows that there were 28 incidents at the crossing between 1 January 2014 and 21 January 2019, with a further six near misses reported since then to the end of 2020. Other unrecorded incidents are also reported by the station staff and signalling team.

Proactively working to remove the danger of the crossing by providing a safer new bridge is far better than the alternative in my view.

The application can be read here.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: I Am Working to Remove the Danger of the Existing Level Crossing at Ash

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 6, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    With the shortage of sewer capacity in Ash recently made known I think more time should be spent “in the sewers” to ensure that with the increase in housing in the area, there is real capacity to cope housing numbers decided under the leadership of Sout Ash and Tongham’s local councillor returned in 2019 by local voters.

    As for the bridge versus level-crossing argument, it is still a pain for me when I go to Farnham Maltings on a Wednesday night. So while it’s none of my business, I vote for a bridge, any bridge, long or short flat or hilly just a bridge, so I don’t get held up on the very few times I head past the Dover Arms.

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 7, 2021 at 3:04 pm

    Sounds like Cllr Rigg has already predetermined his support for this application.

    We all know the bridge is being built to increase the number of houses they can dump over Ash and Tongham and probably open up Normandy as a building site too.

    Additionally, why would you spend millions of taxpayer’s money on a new bridge before the world has decided whether we need to continue to commute post Covid?

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