Fringe Box



Letter: Proposed Ash Bridge – There Are Still Questions to Answer

Published on: 26 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 26 Jun, 2019

The proposed route of the new Ash flyover or bridge. Image courtesy GBC.

From: Sue Wyeth-Price

former chair of Ash Green Resident’s Association

In response to: Ash Residents Express Doubts and Fears Over New Rail Bridge Plan

I am neither for nor against the bridge as I feel we simply do not have enough information to make an informed decision and many questions remain unanswered.

I have considerable concerns over the finances. The council’s paper, presented at the Executive Committee Meeting 19th March, at which I and 5 other residents expressed our concerns, states that the cost of the bridge will be £22.8 million (excluding the cost of any land through Compulsory Purchase Orders), yet the Local Plan, adopted only six weeks later, stated the cost was only £15 million (Local Plan: strategy and sites 2015 – 2034, Appendix 6 – Infrastructure Schedule, Local Road Network, page 303).

The council has so far raised over £3.3 million in S106 contributions at a rate of £10,000 per house for the most recent approved developments.

Whilst there are obvious different scenarios in the volume of houses to be built, the cost of the land purchase and the contribution per house (assuming that 580 houses can fit in the remaining land around the bridge, and NAO rates for 2 hectares of CPO land and £10k per house contribution) the shortfall is around £17 million.

The council submission to the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) agreed on a final number of houses to be unlocked by the bridge at 714. Should the developers somehow manage to squeeze such a large number in such a small area the shortfall would only be reduced to £15.5 million.

Where is this money coming from?

Our second concern is the traffic modelling. We know from the council’s own figures that the Ash Hill Road/Guildford Road junction already exceeds capacity, as does the Pirbright Road junction. The installation of a bridge will not reduce the traffic volume at either of these junctions.

It is possible that the traffic may even increase as drivers look for alternatives to the A31/A3 route to Guildford. Indeed, traffic over the new bridge in Walton-On-Thames has increased by 4,000 cars per day. How does this solve the congestion issues in Ash as a whole?

The bridge will be less than 200 meters from Ash Manor, a Grade 2* listed building in a cluster with three other Grade II listed buildings. The setting of this valuable heritage asset should be protected as prescribed in both the Local Plan and the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] and no evidence has yet been put forward to show that neither the house nor the setting will be degraded by the either the bridge or the changes to the drainage around it.

The most recent draft plans shown to us by the council clearly outline the site of the footbridge required to obtain the £2.5 million funding from Network Rail. This is on the existing car park at the station with the current overspill in Foreman Road being prevented by yellow lines. Given that legitimate on street parking contributes to the congestion along the A323 from the A331 to the Pirbright junction and beyond, I can’t see how this will do anything other than exacerbate the issues.

Finally, the HIF have provided the information used in the bid to demonstrate that the bridge has the required support locally. This consists of three redacted letters all on GBC headed paper and all dated 20 September 2017, before the local plan was approved and four months before the council showed the first set of plans to local residents in January 2018. Who were these from and how does this demonstrate local support?


Share This Post

Responses to Letter: Proposed Ash Bridge – There Are Still Questions to Answer

  1. Alan Taylor Reply

    June 26, 2019 at 9:12 pm

    If compulsory purchase is to be used to buy the land to build the bridge, why don’t GBC simply purchase the land occupied by mobile homes opposite the station car park and build a bridge next to the existing road?

  2. John Ferns Reply

    June 26, 2019 at 10:06 pm

    A comment on the car parking issue at Ash Station which GBC has so far failed to address.

    GBC has earmarked £1 million in the Local Plan to improve car & bike parking facilities at North Camp Station; forgive me if I am wrong, but that station already has extensive parking facilities and any improvements to that station are of very much greater benefit to Rushmoor/Hampshire residents than the many thousands of new “Guildford borough residents” imposed upon Ash & Tongham.

    Charity begins at home; £1 million is a lot of money which perhaps Ash should have benefitted from. It all adds to the overall cost of the bridge and its impact on the future of South Ash & Tongham.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *