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New Park & Ride Will Cause Gridlock on Local Roads Claim Residents

Published on: 13 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2012

The busy RSCH roundabout soon to be a cross roads with traffic lights – All photos John Schluter

A new £4m Park & Ride scheme for Guildford was criticised last night (12 Sep) at the Surrey County Council’s quarterly ‘Local Committee’ meeting. One County Cllr, Fiona White (Lib Dem, Guildford West), voted against the scheme proceeding.

Residents are concerned that the extra traffic the scheme will create will cause gridlock on nearby roads despite a junction improvement scheme already underway by the RSCH Roundabout. The roundabout will become a traffic light controlled cross roads. Access to and from the Park & Ride site will be from this junction.

The 550 space car park has been jointly designed, by GBC and SCC using ‘best practice’ and lessons learned from Guildford’s existing Park & Ride Sites at Merrow and Artington. Such facilities are provided to reduce the amount of traffic entering the town centre.

New Onslow Park & Ride Plan (click on image to enlarge)

GBC have estimated that the annual operational costs will be in the region of £110,000. It is envisaged that the service can be operated commercially but £500,000 was included in the bid to cover operational costs whilst demand for the site develops.

The GBC Executive approved the scheme in principle last November and also approved the £90,500 costs for the submission of a planning application.

The Egerton roadworks are a precursor the the construction of the new Onslow Park & Ride scheme

The invitation for contractors to tender bids was issued on 31 August. The deadline for the bids to delivered is 5 October. Following contract award in December, construction is anticipated to commence in January 2013. The car park is expected to become operational in Autumn in time for the Christmas shopping period.

County Cllr Fiona White said: “I am in favour of the principle of Park & Ride provided the sites are in the right place with adequate transport links.  The current sites at Artington and Merrow seem to work well.

“The proposals for the Onslow site are via a road system which is already overloaded.  I am not convinced that the change from a roundabout to a traffic light junction is going to improve the situation enough to allow for additional Park & Ride traffic to get through to the site and out again and there will not be time between the completion of the changes to the roundabout and the building of any Park & Ride to judge whether the extra traffic could be accommodated.  If it is really to work, it would need access from and to the A3 and this does not seem to be part of the current scheme.

Egerton road serves traffic from the RSCH, Park Barn, the University, the Sports Park, The Research Park, a supermarket, a hotel and a nursery school

“I voted against the scheme at the Local Committee meeting last night because I think there is a real risk that residents, particularly in the Ashenden and Park Barn areas of Guildford, would suffer more traffic problems as a consequence of the scheme.”

Cllr Tony Phillips (Lib Dem) who lives in and represents Onslow Ward said today: “I am in principle in favour of Park & Ride sites providing adequate highway infrastructure is in place. The Onslow site is via a road network already overloaded. I am not convinced the current alterations to the road network in Egerton Road (to change a roundabout into a traffic light junction) will be sufficient to accommodate additional Park & Ride traffic.

“As a borough councillor for Onslow ward I have been pressing for direct access from the A3 for some time to prevent congestion on local roads and to ensure efficient use of the park & ride site. Unfortunately this link does not appear to be part of the current scheme.”

As rush hour approaches queues of traffic form to negotiate the RSCH roundabout

Hon Alderman Bernard Park, who lives in Onslow Village and regularly drives on the affected roads, said when asked if the new facility will be an asset to Guildford: “No. It is situated in an area of the A3 which was due to be re-routed before the moratorium in 1997.

“This area of the A3 is prone to accidents, more so since the Hindhead Tunnel was completed. The A3 urban motorway at this point becomes heavily congested  now in the rush hour and again around 3.30pm each day.

“It will of course provide the university with a new car park and yet another bus service into the town.”

Alistair Knowles, Chairman of the Ashenden Residents’ Association said, during the Local Committee meeting, that he had been alarmed to hear preparatory road works, currently underway, will necessitate a six week closure of part of Egerton Road to traffic heading towards Park Barn. This was a measure, he said, which had not been widely publicised and was not known by staff in the nearby Tesco’s supermarket who were ‘shocked’ at the news.

A representative from Surrey County Council Highways Department said that what Mr Knowles had asserted was news to him and he undertook to investigate. Cllr Fiona White expressed disappointment with the lack of consultation which should be better, she said, in a democratic process.

A public meeting is to be arranged by the Park Barn Residents’ Association, it is hoped, within the next fortnight. Council Officers undertook to attend the meeting and help keep local residents informed.

What do you think? Are you a local resident fearful of the consequences of the new Park & Ride or perhaps you are looking forward to using the new facility and enjoying its benefits? Please use the ‘Leave a Reply feature below to have your say.

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test 4 Responses to New Park & Ride Will Cause Gridlock on Local Roads Claim Residents

  1. Bibhas Neogi

    September 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I would like to draw Cllr Tony Phillips’ and Cllr Fiona White’s attention to my web site (http://www.spanglefish.com/revampguildfordgyratory). In addition to improvements of the gyratory, it includes possible improvements to the A3… See ‘Letters’ for Bibhas Neogi’s full comment…

  2. Cllr Jenny Wicks

    September 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Traffic congestion is often cited as the most important challenge facing Guildford. In the last 20 years all parties on Guildford Borough Council have recognised that, apart from very major infrastructure projects which are unlikely to be funded, establishing a Park and Ride system is the most effective way to divert cars which would otherwise go into the town centre and add to congestion.

    The existing Park and Ride sites work well and there are around 1 million journeys per year on the Park and Ride buses.

    Recognising that there is no Park and Ride site for traffic coming to Guildford from the south on the A3 or the west along the A31, GBC reached agreement with the University that they would reserve land at Manor Park for such a site if funding could be found. Surrey County Council has been successful in getting Government funding for this site. The current road works being undertaken to provide traffic lights at the Egerton Road/Gill Avenue junction were modelled to accommodate traffic using the Onslow Park and Ride site.

    Of course, the planning application process will require public consultation as well as a detailed examination of the impact of such a site on the local area, including in particular the impact on local roads and on the A3.

    If the planning application is successful then I am sure that the new site will be instrumental in further reducing traffic congestion in the town centre, thus contributing to the attractiveness and prosperity of the town in the future.

    Cllr Jenny Wicks is the Lead GBC Councillor for Planning and Development

  3. John Schluter

    September 14, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I agree that Park and Ride schemes work but the clue is in the first part of the name. In order to park, vehicles have to travel to the car parks and the area around The Research Park / Hospital is already at overload.

    Now a sensible approach would involve a new exit / entrance to the A3 leading straight into the new Park and Ride, The Surrey Research Park and the Sports Centre.

    As a “minor” aside here, we have a major A & E department, as well as others, in the RSC Hospital for which access is paramount.

    I would have thought that priority be given over to that rather than where people can park to go shopping.

  4. Bernard Parke

    September 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Anyone who lives in the confines of central Guildford will know that this area is too congested to even contemplate building a new park and ride on the university site.

    Of course, the University would no doubt benefit from a new car and another bus service into the town centre!