Fringe Box



Letter: Waitrose Application – Traffic Assumptions Are Wrong

Published on: 5 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 5 Nov, 2012

From Bill Stokoe
Member, Guildford Vision Group, Steering Group

I wish to call into question the quality of GBC planning advocacy in connection with the Waitrose store application before GBC’s Planning Committee tomorrow night (Tuesday, 6th November).

GBC [Guildford borough Council] planning officers have recommended approval. They state that any congestion caused by the additional traffic is not likely to be ‘severe’ enough to make a case for refusal.

But in making that judgement, there’s one key assumption  really should be challenged. The assessment of traffic flows west out of the site towards the York Road/Woodbridge Road roundabout based on an assumption that I understand has been made that the traffic has an uninterrupted flow along Onslow Street into the gyratory system.

It doesn’t take a traffic engineer to spot the problem with that. No allowance has been made for the interruption caused by the traffic light-controlled Woodbridge Road bus lane at the junction with Onslow Street where buses from the bus station head northwards towards the York Road roundabout.

Any regular road user in that area will readily recount queuing times spent in York Road, right by the likely location of the Waitrose entrance, trying to negotiate their way through the roundabout junction at Woodbridge Road and left towards the gyratory, or right towards Ladymead.

Officers are also happy, apparently, to recommend approval for the store despite queues from the York Road entrance stretching back 400 metres, across Stoke Road, towards London Road.

The official traffic assessments, which form part of the application process, many taken on a quiet Thursday in mid July, also assume that the anticipated traffic flows to and from the site will be evenly distributed around all points of the compass. This just doesn’t make sense.

There is bound to be a north Guildford bias to store users, as opposed to residents and others in, say, Shalford or Wonersh who are probably still going to use Waitrose at Godalming. So the volume of traffic to and from the northern segment of Guildford is almost certainly underestimated. So the queue along York Road is probably going to be somewhat longer than 400 metres.

And to add further grief to the gyratory misery, the traffic assessments make no allowance for the number of heavy delivery truck journeys, in and out of the site, using both the gyratory and North Street, and town centre roads beyond, for access. They’ve also left out the impact of the pedestrianisation of North Street and the closure of Leapale Road.

So besides the bizarre promotion by the Council of an out-of-town format supermarket for a residential, town centre site (owned by the Council), Planning Committee members look unlikely to be able to rely unquestioningly on the officers’ traffic assessment or recommendation.

After the failure of the Draft Town Centre Plan, the Interim Town Centre Framework document, the North Street Brief we now have unreliable Waitrose traffic evidence for what, in the light of the other major town centre proposals being promoted, is a premature planning proposal. What next?

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Responses to Letter: Waitrose Application – Traffic Assumptions Are Wrong

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    November 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Messrs Rigg and Stokoe are absolutely correct in their comments concerning the development on the Bellerby Theatre site. The traffic situation in central Guildford, and on the A3, is now nightmare and can only worsen with this propose development.

    Unfortunately, it is the residents of Guildford who will have to live with this maelstrom into future years.

    Will no one listen to the people caught up every day with this traffic nightmare?

  2. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    There will inevitably be local shoppers who would join the usual traffic but long queues would, I guess, soon put them off from attempting to shop during peak hours. I do not know if parking is going to be free for a couple of hours like it usually is at supermarkets but if it is, it could attract additional traffic of even non-Waitrose shoppers!

    I have objected to the planning application on grounds of: traffic being allowed to turn right into the site; the proposed closure of the subway; parking, if it is free; and delivery vehicles having to exit via the unsuitable Leapale Road and North Street.

    Although Waitrose plan shows a separate right turning lane, there is not enough stacking length and traffic, tailing back, would interfere with normal flow of the eastbound right hand lane.

    The subway must be retained to maintain a free flow of traffic especially during peak hours. But the proposed pedestrian crossing should also be provided (with reduced frequency) to allow a safe crossing during off-peak hours when the subway could remain closed to minimise anti-social activities. This is what should have been done for Millbrook crossing.

    Affordable housing is needed for those who work in Guildford but to accommodate them in the heart of the town centre may not be viable. They may start off as affordable but if they are of reasonable standard, they might soon become more valuable and change hands to wealthier owners and therefore defeat the initial objective.

    I would expect Guildford Borough Council and Waitrose to address the issues I’ve raised and find acceptable solutions.

  3. Karen Fredborg Reply

    November 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    In response to the letter from Bibhas Neogi.

    The car park is going to be both accommodating Waitrose shoppers and town centre – it is part of the greater scheme.

    The 91 spaces currently available to shoppers Saturdays and Sundays in College Park and Bellerby car parks will of course not be available, and if half of those cars are left in the Waitrose pay-and-display car-park it means it will overflow. Have a look at the Parking Accumulation table (35) in the Traffic Assessment – it is available on GBC [Guildford Borough Council] website.

    My fear is that traffic will queue through the pedestrian crossing on York Road. This happens daily at the crossing at York Road/Chertsey Street now. This would, in turn, mean that pedestrians cannot cross York Road and with a cycle of 120 seconds surely both drivers and pedestrians will get frustrated and jump reds or rush to cross on amber. Unless, of course, the lights at York Road/Chertsey Street and the new lights replacing the roundabout at the police station are set up to let very little traffic into the area. (Hint)

    I have lived in this area for seven years and have used the subway almost daily. Never have I come across antisocial behaviour in the subway.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Further to Bill Stokoe’s letter ‘Waitrose – Planning Assumptions are Wrong’ I would like to add that on street parking bays usually have 30 mins maximum stay, so something along that line may be introduced with steeply increasing rates for longer stay but limited to say 1.5 hours… for full comment please see ‘Letters.

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