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Controversial Guildford Traffic Restrictions Due To Be Discussed

Published on: 4 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 12 Dec, 2013
Map showing the the two roads were traffic movement might be restricted.

Map showing the the two roads were traffic movement might be restricted.

Two controversial traffic direction changes, in Guildford, are due to be discussed at a public council meeting next week.

One proposal is to close Walnut Tree Close to through traffic and the other is to make Mount Pleasant one way. Both proposals are on the agenda of the ‘Local Committee’ (made up of county and borough councillors) meeting to be held at 7pm, December 11 in Guildford Borough Council chamber, Millmead.

One other less controversial measure included on the agenda is the implementation of traffic calming measures in Wodeland Avenue.

Cllr David Goodwin (Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford South West) told the Guildford Dragon NEWS that the proposal to block Walnut Tree Close followed a petition from local residents. He said: “The measures have been proposed by Surrey County Council (SCC) highway engineers in response to residents’ requests or petitions.”

“In Mount Pleasant, as part of speed management restrictions in the area, and at the request of the Police who have had accidents on the Portsmouth Road, leading up to Mount Pleasant, reported to them, the engineers have proposed that Mount Pleasant be made one way downwards [ie from The Mount to the Portsmouth Road].

“I am aware that this would not be ideal for a couple of residents who live at the bottom of Mount Pleasant, and I am in discussions with the engineers to try and resolve their concerns.

Cllr David Goodwin

Cllr David Goodwin

“The Wodeland Avenue proposal is the result of a long-standing campaign that has been mounted by WAAG (Wodeland Avenue Action Group). I am finally getting the engineers to draw up speed management measures for the whole area (including Annandale, Wherwell, Testard, Mareschal, The Mount and Mount Pleasant). I have recently been informed that these speed management measures can be introduced in the spring (2014).”

“I am supporting the proposals because I have, over many years, listened to residents who have requested these measures. I do know that  a formal consultation, by Surrey County Council, took place, with residents, many years ago but there were too many variances so a formal decision was not taken.

“The decision to go ahead now with the speed management measures shows that we are doing something to try to keep the area safer, rather than doing nothing at all.”

Keith Chesterton, a former county councillor who represents cyclists and pedestrians on the Transport for Guildford Steering Group said: “This is actually an old suggestion, but this time the Councillor Working Party  is recommending going ahead. In the past, it was always turned down partly because Mount Pleasant provides a route by which cyclists can avoid getting involved in the gyratory maelstrom.

“I think everybody, motorists as well as cyclists, agrees that we don’t want more cyclists endangering themselves there. The suggestion came up in a question  at September’s Local Committee meeting. Now, in a sudden burst of speed, it is the plan for 2014/15 without any consultation with anybody and certainly not with cyclists.

“For cyclists the best outcome would be to leave the road two way. This creates its own traffic calming effect (as in Castle Hill). One way traffic would be faster and therefore less safe for cyclists, but still a great deal safer than the gyratory.”

And one Mount Pleasant resident is also unhappy. He wrote to The Dragon to say: “I have lived on Mount Pleasant for over 11 years and have seen no consultation on these proposals.  What mandate [exists] to do this radical work?

“I fear this will encourage cars to drive even faster down Mount Pleasant if drivers know that there are no cars coming the other way.  It is already a dangerous road for pedestrians. Making the street one way will only increase the danger to pedestrians because cars will drive faster.

“And what is the logic to closing Walnut Tree Close?  I know this road gets busy during rush hour, but so does every road in the centre.  Stopping traffic from using this road will only force the traffic on to other roads which are equally congested.”

The petition on Walnut Tree Close, presented to the Local Committee in September, reads: “We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to shut Walnut Tree Close/Woodbridge Meadows to through traffic, reverting them to no through roads, for the following reasons:

To stop traffic driving on the pavement, compromising safety – the road is too narrow for 2 way heavy volume traffic; to cut accidents and constant damage to parked cars; to eliminate the severe delays caused by long queues of through ‘rat run’ traffic, waiting to exit the road; to allow residents, visitors, employees and customers normal unimpeded access to homes and businesses; to ensure quick access for emergency services; to eliminate through traffic, which delays traffic exiting the train station; to create a safe, pleasant route for cycling and walking between the station, university and industrial parks; to reduce pollution and improve air quality; to cut erosion to properties from road water; to stop confusion over the road name; to improve access enabling potential residential and business development; and to enhance the river as a place to visit and enjoy, not see a traffic jam.”

The official response to the residents petition requesting closure of Walnut Tree Close, due to be debated at the meeting, reads: “…Closing the road to through traffic, for instance by a point closure at an appropriate location, would provide the opportunity to introduce a dedicated cycle route and of course greatly reduce traffic volumes, improving the environment for residents, pedestrians and cyclists.

“Such a closure would also result in through traffic which is currently using Walnut Tree Close re-routing, most likely using the A322 Woodbridge Road and Onslow Street, where increased peak hour congestion would be expected. Although it is understood that some businesses in Walnut Tree Close have signed the petition, it is likely that vehicular access to many would be affected by a closure, with potential increases in journey times and fuel costs…

“…It is recommended that the closure of Walnut Tree Close is included in the gyratory modelling currently underway in order to gain an appreciation of the effects on the local road network. It is also suggested that market research is undertaken with companies in Walnut Tree Close to establish their views on closure, with say £5,000 allocated from the current 2013/14 budget to meet costs.”

Other proposed road projects

The meeting agenda also lists the following borough-wide initiatives, shown with estimated costs, that the Transport Task Group recommended should be prioritised for 2014/15:

  • Elm Lane Tongham: 50m footway extension £20,000
  • Mount Pleasant, Guildford: No-entry (one way) £10,000
  • Hornhatch Estate, Chilworth: Pram ramps £5,000
  • Wood St Village: Traffic calming £25,000
  • Boxgrove Roundabout, Guildford: Safer crossing point £20,000
  • A281 Horsham Rd, Shalford: Pedestrian refuge £20,000
  • A281 Shalford Rd, Guildford: Reduce limit from 40 to 30mph £6,000
  • Down Lane, Compton: Traffic calming £30,000
  • East Lane, West Horsley: 30m footway extension £15,000
  • Epsom Rd junction with The Street, W Horsley: Junction feasibility £5,000
  • A281 Quarry St, Guildford: Red man/green man at signals £25,000
  • A323 Aldershot Rd, Worplesdon: Pedestrian refuge £25,000
  • Wisley Lane, Wisley: Reduce speed limit £10,000
  • Old Lane, Ockham: Closures for Persian New Year £7,000
  • Shere Rd, West Horsley: Reduce limit from 40 to 30 £15,000
  • Poyle Rd & others, Tongham: Speed limit review £15,000
  • Byrefield Rd/Stoughton Rd, Guildford: Bus stop/Keep Clear Markings £2,500

Total: £255,500

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Responses to Controversial Guildford Traffic Restrictions Due To Be Discussed

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    December 4, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    1) Mount Pleasant is too narrow fow two-way traffic. Allowing traffic to turn right at the bottom of The Mount on to the Portsmouth Road would solve this problem.

    2) Wodeland Avenue – there are too many parking bays on the bend at the top end by the Farnham Road jubnction. With regard to traffic calming measures it is virtually a single track road now due to the on street parking and the traffic is not only calm, but quite frustratingly docile.

    3)This was made a through in the sixties but now is completely jammed at peak periods as are may roads in central Guildford. This is caused largely unwanted through traffivc which must be discouraged.

  2. Mike Bailey Reply

    December 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    I completely agree with the one way system being implemented for Mount Pleasant, how on earth there aren’t more collisions there I don’t know. Poor sight lines, terrible road width and far too busy for the road design.

    To support the cyclists who seem to like it there could be a cycle lane installed that contraflows with the one way which is clearly signed, reducing the traffic to one lane should allow plenty of room for this. Best of both worlds.

    I don’t quite understand how the installation of two “No Entry” signs and two “One Way” signs would cost £10,000 however.

    The effective closure of Woodbridge Meadows though is ludicrous. Woodbridge Road, where traffic would be diverted to, is already at a standstill at rush hour (no thanks to the useless and underused bus lanes). The gyratory itself is beyond repair.

    The only way to deal with central Guildford traffic is to remove the need for people to drive through Guildford town in order to get from one side to the other. An eastern bypass to the town, allowing people from Shalford/Bramley way to get to the Merrow/Clandon area would improve traffic dramatically, as well as a proper river crossing south of Guildford. The current river crossings, which allow only one direction at a time, do not support peak time traffic.

  3. Peter Lloyd Reply

    December 5, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Closing Walnut Tree Close? Is it April 1st?

    It is often, especially at peak times, the only way to get away from the railway station.

    Planning permission for housing and new offices should never have been granted. What was and is needed is a clear and usable access to the railway station, with facilities for cyclists, cars (for those not fit enough to cycle to the station) and buses for when trains are not running.

    This access should not require use of the one way system which is a joke.

  4. Julie Goucher Reply

    December 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I have been following this debate rather closely and say the problems the residents are experiencing in Walnut Tree Close (WTC) are nothing new, but that does not mean they are acceptable, in fact they are anything but.

    My family connections with WTC began in 1912 when my grandmother was born in the road. After she married she returned to the road in 1940 and my family association continued until 1996.

    The conditions with the traffic, as I said are not new. The road was simply not built for the huge amount of cars, vans, and wagons that existed on the roads back in the time I lived there and even more so now. In my WTC archive I have newspaper articles that span back to the early 1980s.

    The plan was then to close the road or make a decision one way or another, residential or industrial/office. A combination of the two is a disaster and always has been. The opening of the road making it a link to the A3 was done without the clear forethought of how things would change, never in the wildest dreams did those decision makers expect that decision to escalate to the situation that now exists. A situation fraught with potential disaster,accident,death and far too many near misses.

    I understand the comments of others, that WTC is the only sensible access route away from the station at peek times. I get that, but the ease for some people is only made at the expense of others.

    WTC will always been home to me, the family association and the history run too deep, but I moved away and now observe from afar. Every visit home always includes a visit to WTC and I am always horrified that the councillors that have been voted in by the constituency continue to fail those people, year after year and decade after decade. Just because it has been so, does not make it right.

    The time has come to stand up and take stock. WTC is not a rat run to the A3 or into town, it is a road that has been the victim of poor planning and consideration of the decent and good people who live there. That situation has been going on for decades and that has been allowed because no one is prepared to take hold of the situation and deal with it.

    Ask yourself this. Would you buy a house there? Are you prepared to experience your car damaged on a regular basis? The proximity of vans and wagons so close to your front door that you can touch the wagon without leaving your home? If the answer is no, then why should that be acceptable to the residents of Walnut Tree Close?

  5. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 7, 2013 at 7:02 am

    As Julie Goucher says the problem at WTC has been like that for a very long time and in her own words, “Ask yourself this. Would you buy a house there? Are you prepared to experience your car damaged on a regular basis? The proximity of vans and wagons so close to your front door that you can touch the wagon without leaving your home? If the answer is no, then why should that be acceptable to the residents of Walnut Tree Close?”

    So why did the existing residents buy a house there?

    I don’t imagine that there are not very many people that know live in WTC that were born there or that have lived there for more that 20-30 Years. On that bases they have moved there knowing what the road is like, so why should the rest of Guildford suffer the loss of a road in and out of Guildford?

    To be honest do people really think that if there is a crash or breakdown on the A3 or the one way system that having only one way in and out of WTC will help the residences and businesses in WTC in anyway? Imagine all those cars, lorries, and buses trying to leave and enter WTC through one entrance.

    • Julie Goucher Reply

      December 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      The bottom line is that the Walnut Tree Close issue has existed for a long time, decades, in fact. But that does not mean that it should continue.

      As to people buying property or renting in WTC, people do that for all sorts of reasons. The proximity to the railway station is a big plus. I can make it from my front door at the top of WTC to platform 5 in about six minutes.

      Regardless of how long someone has lived in WTC do they really deserve the kind of chaos that exists in the road? Would that chaos be acceptable in Merrow or Bushy Hill? I don’t think so.

  6. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Can I just point out as well, I drive around Guildford all day as part of my job, and the other day the first parking bays down from the station were not in use and traffic was moving freely because, it seemed, no one needed to wait for traffic coming up WTC to pass those cars parked in those bays. So, maybe stopping people parking in those first bays would help traffic flow a bit.

  7. Jim Allen Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Walnut Tree Close to me is two things: a route to and from the station collecting visitors from afar, (no ‘real’ bus service exists from the railway station to Burpham) and access to the business’s along its length.

    There is a third option to solve the problem.

    Traffic lights could be installed along the residential section effectively making it two way but one way at a time. This would remove the traffic conflict and control the mad motorists, like the one who swung up onto the footpath coming towards me the other day. The driver was trying to get past an LGV. The way he did it suggested he had done it many times before.

    Bollards on the pavement by dropped kerbs, albeit very narrow, may also help.

    I have the utmost sympathy with the residents of the road but don’t believe it is in the general interest of the community to make it a no through road or one way all the time.

  8. Mary Redgwell Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    As a long term Guildford resident in the Stoughton area, I use Walnut Tree Close as a through route most days. The suggestion that some parking restrictions could be applied to the area nearest the railways station seems to be very sensible.

    To close the road to through traffic would add further chaos to an already inadequate traffic system.

  9. Mr Jibson Reply

    December 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    As a resident of Walnut Tree Close (WTC), who drives around Guildford every day, using WTC as start and finish point, I feel I have experienced every aspect of the WTC nightmare.

    The whole thing needs re-thinking. This grid-lock is caused because of the traffic system in Guildford as a whole. Traffic in Guildford during busy times is very slow, but it moves. Would it be that big a deal to make other roads in Guildford one way? So many other old towns have moved forward into the 21st century and made roads one way. Guildford Borough Council ok’d an entire one way system in the past.

    WTC is like the M25, including its harmful emissions. When there is a major incident there are major delays. Its residents are in danger when emergency services can’t get to them. We become trapped and it becomes impossible for us to plan journeys.

    Sean Jenkinson writes:”So why did the existing residents buy a house there? I don’t imagine that there are not very many people that now live in WTC that were born there or that have lived there for more that 20-30 Years. On that bases they have moved there knowing what the road is like, so why should the rest of Guildford suffer the loss of a road in and out of Guildford?”

    Well I bought my house here over 10 years ago. Okay it is not 20-30 years but I can say, it has got much worse in that time.

    When I moved to the street, each time I viewed my newhouse the road was,of course, clear. Mr Jenkinson will know from driving around every day, that WTC is empty for most of the day. It’s only when other residents and workers of the Guildford borough community are commuting that WTC residents have to suffer.

    Something has to be done. WTC is a nightmare.

  10. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 10, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I agree with Mr Jibson that WTC is a nightmare but I am saying making it a no through road will not make the traffic in Guildford any better. He says, “its residents are in danger when emergency services can’t get to them.” well does anyone think making WTC a cul-de-sac will make it any better for emergency services? They will have only one way to get in to the road.

    I agree that something needs to be done about WTC and its traffic but to make it a cul-de-sac is not the answer. Closing WTC will not ease the traffic problem just make it worse in Guildford. We need to look at the larger picture and not just one road at a time.

  11. Rachel Lane Reply

    December 10, 2013 at 9:04 am

    It must be pointed out the restriction of through traffic in Walnut Tree Close (WTC) with the plan for an alternate, purpose built road to Guildford train station has been included in Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plans since 1990 (see the GBC website for the most recent Local Plan 2003, Policy M7 and the GBC Local Plan 2003 proposals map).

    A new link road is clearly marked, running north of the station. However 23 years on, nothing has happened and the ever increasing volume of traffic is still left struggling to exit the station and use this narrow, increasingly gridlocked, D-category road.

    It has been documented since the early 1980s that WTC had failed within 20 years of being opened up as a thoroughfare, which resulted in a catalogue of problems (including speeding and lorries using the narrow pavement as part of their roadway), and many serious accidents and incidences.

    Since it has become a through road, residents recall cars careering in to gardens, parked cars, overturned, cars smashed through a house, numerous personal injuries to pedestrians and cars written off, several head on collisions and a number of fatalities…let alone the daily unrecorded clips and near misses to both vehicles, cyclists, property and pedestrians.

    Furthermore, residents recall that Guildford Borough Council (GBC) sold off Victorian housing in 1981 with the promise to buyers the road was going to be reverted back to a cul de sac but this never happened and homeowners were left feeling duped. 30 years later, despite all the problems, accidents, plans and promises, there has been no change to WTC; no restriction of through traffic and no purpose built road to the station.

    It takes up to 30mins to exit the station onto WTC, let alone queue another 20mins to get to the Gyratory; hardly supporting Guildford as a key business centre. With no queuing rat run traffic, station traffic could flow unimpeded.

    1.5 lanes for 2-way traffic, where cars have to edge past one another at 5mph, while anything larger drives up along the narrow pavement and at all speeds despite numerous pedestrians: hardly indicative of an effective main route. Pedestrians getting clipped, having to weave their way around bonnets cutting across the pavement, or taking their chances alongside moving coaches and articulated lorries driving along the narrow pavement on this, a primary route to the station, is commonplace.

    The disabled, people with luggage, buggies and young children, are left unable to use the pavement due to the volume of traffic using it as part of their roadway. Such pedestrians are left stranded as it’s almost impossible to safely cross. When gridlocked, cyclists have no where to go other than ride on the pavement, resulting in numerous personal injuries to pedestrians and as people step out of their homes.

    Is this really acceptable? When the road is gridlocked one mile in both directions how can a fire engine/emergency services possibly get through? The road is just 4 metres wide in places- a fire engine needs 3.7 metres width – 2 gridlocked lanes of traffic has no where to pull out of the way. GBC’s recent Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment identified a number of brownfield sites in and around WTC for residential redevelopment within 6-10yrs but people have to be able to access their homes and emergency services must be able to support them, the road infrastructure has to be in place.

    WTC is a long residential road with 230 homes and a number of businesses. Parking is like most town centre roads, incredibly pressured. For example, 10 parking bays in the lower section of the road directly serve 38 properties; removal is out of the question. Traffic lights at both ends of WTC would speed up queues slightly, but the safety issues in the road would still not be resolved.

    The bottom line is, WTC is too narrow for the volume of traffic it carries. When less congested, vehicles travel too fast for the width of the road, the drivers too quickly taking unnecessary risks resulting in daily near misses and accidents. No other route brings such large volumes of traffic, pedestrians and housing in to such close proximity.

    The need for a purpose built route either from the gyratory or station seems clear but WTC as a through one mile corridor (as there is no alternate routes in or off it) will always be a rat trap rather than a rat run, fraught with safety issues; the likelihood of another serious accident occurring rises with ever increasing traffic volumes.

    The petition was submitted ahead of the gyratory redesign to make clear to the highways team the safety issues have not gone away and something must be done before another serious accident or fatality occurs. See what is actually happening: please watch the video on YouTube ‘Shut Walnut Tree Close to through traffic’; see the photos and details on

  12. Margaret Macqueen Reply

    December 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Having followed this campaign for some time, I am utterly astonished that Surrey County Council have turned a blind eye to the dangerous and reckless driving that residents and pedestrians are subjected to and which I have witnessed first hand.

    The issue I would like to raise is that of safety, which was touched on by Julie Goucher. I was horrified to see the photos on the website. Residents and pedestrians should never be at risk of injury when simply walking on the pavement or stepping outside their front door, but this is what is happening on a daily basis.

    If for no other reason than this, Walnut Tree Close (WTC) should be closed to through traffic. It is totally unacceptable for any traffic to use the pavement as a means to progress along a road. How many fatalities and serious injuries need to occur before action is taken?

    I am appalled the council have sat on their laurels this long. An alternate road would dramatically ease congestion and reduce commute time for hundreds.

    Meanwhile the traffic in Guildford has had to suffer all these years, not to mention all the businesses and residents in WTC. Yet more under investment on Surrey roads. Guildford is supposedly Surrey’s premier town. It’s high time Surrey County Council stopped brushing the issues under the carpet and invested in a decent road infrastructure, starting here.

    • Daniel Colgate Reply

      August 21, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      I would like to know if a a better speed limit or more speed limit enforcement could be introduced in Walnut Tree Close. There are motorbikes and cars speeding there and a lot of pedestrians using the pavements and crossing.

  13. Samantha Murrell Reply

    December 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I totally agree that’s Walnut Tree Close should be closed. It is a death trap and before long this will be proven. The noise pollution also is appalling.

  14. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    December 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    I have looked at the website But I remain unsure asLto which part they want shut, how much it will cost to do and how long it will take to do it, plus how it will work with the station.

    WTC is not the cause of the traffic problem in Guildford but rather the result of the traffic problem in Guildford so you can’t really start there, the one way system and the A3 and Ladymead need to be the starting point.

    By all means close WTC but after the rest of the traffic system in Guildford is sorted out, or we will end up with all the traffic from WTC putting more stress on the other routes in and out of Guildford.

  15. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 13, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Those who live in Walnut Tree Close are naturally in favour of closing the road to through traffic to make it safer. The road is narrow for two-way traffic but that does not necessarily mean through traffic cannot be continued if it is made one-way. It would be a lot safer if it is one-way from Bridge Street up to a new link to Woodbridge Road over the river on a new bridge. Beyond this it would remain a two-way Road.

    A route to Guildford Park Road could be provided if Yorkie’s footbridge, near Jewson’s, is replaced by a road bridge. Closing a vital route is not in the interest of the majority of users but new thinking that benefits all is welcome and not just for the residents of Walnut Tree Close.

    A better east-west link over the railway is also a must. The Local Plan should incorporate this as a policy and safeguard land for this purpose. This could be an alternative route to the station via new Yorkie’s bridge and the new railway bridge (rather than through the flood plains of Wey that was one of the objections raised in 2003 Plan) from the old Royal Mail sorting office.

  16. Jamie Saunders Reply

    December 17, 2013 at 9:30 am

    There is currently a petition for the reduction to the speed limit along Shalford Road (A281) to 30mph –

    Great news that the local committee is prioritising this for 2014/15.

    On March 12th this specific speed reduction is being discussed at the local committee. This presentation has been submitted to our local Councillors –

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