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Letter: Time to Pedestrianise More of the High Street and Stop the Second Gyratory

Published on: 23 Sep, 2021
Updated on: 24 Sep, 2021

The sign to Millbrook car park encouraging motorists to create a “second gyratory”.

From: Nils Christiansen

former Conservative and then Independent borough councillor

During my time as a Holy Trinity councillor, the Millbrook car park entrance was modified to prevent a right turn. The reason for this was that the “parking strategy” dictated that Millbrook should only be used by cars coming from the south, and that cars coming from elsewhere should use other car parks before getting to the gyratory.

I recall asking at the time how this would be enforced but was assured that people would soon learn to use other car parks. I also pointed out that there was a potential rat-run shortcut: drivers could make use of the lower High Street and Quarry Street to then turn right into Millbrook, but I was assured that this was unlikely to happen.

Imagine my surprise then to see that a large sign has appeared, encouraging motorists on the gyratory to take the shortcut and do precisely what the whole Millbrook redesign was supposed to avoid.

As a consequence, we now have many more cars turning left into the lower High Street, polluting our “heritage quarter” and causing worse tailbacks than we ever experienced with the original Millbrook car park entrance.

Because of the busy pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the High Street, by the entrance to Friary Street, it only takes three cars to attempt the new route to Millbrook to completely block southbound traffic entering the Shalford Road. When you combine this with the busy pedestrian crossing over the A281 itself, it’s no wonder that traffic on the A281 is so often at a standstill and causes so many snarl-ups around the entire gyratory.

I have long believed that pedestrianising the lower High Street in the same manner as the rest of the High Street would make it look better, improve footfall, reduce congestion and pollution, and demonstrate that Guildford is truly serious about improving the Town Centre.

To this end, I tried to get the granite setts continued all the way to the Shalford Road when they were re-laid a few years ago. Sadly I failed, but I never imagined however that anyone would deliberately create a new mini-gyratory around High Street/Quarry Street/Shalford Road, yet that is exactly what some highways planner has done.

Please, please remove this totally unwanted sign as soon as possible, and then start accelerating plans for Town Centre pedestrianisation.

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Responses to Letter: Time to Pedestrianise More of the High Street and Stop the Second Gyratory

  1. K White Reply

    September 26, 2021 at 9:21 am

    So the question is, who was responsible for this sign and on what authority? Then how do we get it removed?

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    September 26, 2021 at 10:28 am

    A map would help make this letter easier to understand.

    Millbrook Car Park is presumably the car park that serves the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. Anyone visiting the theatre will wish to park there, regardless of which direction they come from.

    The no right turn is one of the many examples of dysfunctional planning at GBC. The diversion to avoid the no right turn merely compounds the problems.

    But how does further pedestrianisation help resolve this? Surely it just makes it worse?

    And what about “modal shift” and helping residents get about using bicycles? How does pedestrianisation help that?

    How easy is it to bicycle to the railway station from the top of the High Street?

    This article from 2012 pointed out the difficulties then:

    But has anything changed?

    Modal shift is just more “Councilspeak” for incoherent thinking and pretending that the emperor is wearing clothes.

  3. Mark Percival Reply

    September 29, 2021 at 6:52 pm

    Anecdotally, the majority of cars queuing out of Quarry Street to turn right (at the traffic lights opposite the Weyside pub) are coming down Castle Hill and have cut through to avoid the gyratory.

    Most cars seem to be turning right at that junction and aren’t going to the Millbrook car park. I walk along Quarry Street every day and this is what I see.

    Those roads should have some action to reduce through traffic and let’s hope the county council starts to act and make changes to reduce the traffic and make the town centre better with less air pollution.

    It won’t be popular at first, and I bet the restriction to traffic on the High Street had vocal opponents when it was first introduced.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 30, 2021 at 4:36 pm

    The reason people are taking this route is to avoid the numerous traffic lights and the bus lane by The Friary encountered if they go right down Waterden Road en route to the Godalming road, Farnham Road or the railway station. It’s longer but usually quicker to go via Bright Hill and then down to Quarry Street.

    There’s no way to reduce through traffic as it’s doing just that, going through Guildford to get somewhere else. Where else can they be sent?

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      October 1, 2021 at 8:33 am

      It is a route I sometimes take when I am crossing the town centre on a late afternoon. I do not drive to or through Guildford often but when I do I try to avoid the centre.

      I believe the majority turn right at the bottom of Quarry Street and head for the car park. There are six sets of traffic signals before one can reach the station or Farnham Road. Those who turn left head for Shalford and beyond or towards Godalming.

      To answer the question, “Where else can they be sent?”, the solution is a tunnel from the A25 Parkway to the A281 south of the Weyside Pub. It would take away through traffic.

      Funding such an improvement has to be justified in terms of benefit in reduced congestion, pollution, accidents and wasted time and hence increased productivity of those otherwise caught in the daily traffic jams. To add to the benefit in monetary terms, the tunnel could be tolled.

      Please see the sketch of such a tunnel among other improvement ideas in

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