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New Plan for London Road Scheme ‘Engagement’ Receives Mixed Response

Published on: 29 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 30 Aug, 2023

SCC artist impression of how the completed scheme could look.

By Martin Giles

An announcement by Surrey County Council that the public engagement for London Road Active Travel Scheme will start on September 18, for an eight-week period, has received a mixed response.

The county council says it has been working with the community, stakeholders and equality groups to develop materials which explain the full Active Travel scheme, from New Inn Lane to York Road, along the London Road (A3100), including Boxgrove Roundabout, and to develop a survey to enable the council to better understand people’s views.

SCC will also be writing a letter to all households and businesses in the area and the engagement will include four in-person drop-in sessions held locally.

And, responding to a major criticism of the original proposal, SCC says there will be no daytime road closures or traffic lights proposed, allowing traffic to flow as normal.

But Terry Newman speaking for the London Road Action Group, formed in January by local residents concerned about the scheme, said:  “It is impossible at the moment to assess the adequacy of the public engagement.

“SCC has not yet shared final detailed drawings of the scheme, of traffic management, or the questions and answers to be available at the four drop-in events. These are expected to be shared in the coming week, and discussed at a meeting on 6th September.

“Little time will then remain to make significant alterations, and so it may appear that the process has become virtually a fait accompli.  Several stakeholders have expressed disappointment that they are being portrayed as co-producers when that is not the case.”

Cllr Fiona Davidson

And LRAG’s concern was shared by Fiona Davidson, R4GV county councillor for Guildford South East. She said: “It is too early to say whether the exercise will be adequate. The stakeholder group has yet to see the materials and details of the engagement.

“SCC refer to the exercise as a ‘public engagement’ rather than a consultation, and while SCC is asking for feedback and views it’s not clear if and how feedback will influence the scheme.

“It is, however, already clear that there is a presumption the scheme will go ahead. I remain concerned that the views of those most impacted by the scheme will be drowned out by those who never use London Road, but I hope they will be acted on, following best practice.”

Cllr George Potter

George Potter, Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford East and borough councillor for Burpham, was more optimistic. He said: “The most important thing is that local people get to have their say on the scheme.

“I have not yet seen the questions in the survey itself, but I think it is very positive that the consultation will now include letters to all households and businesses to make them aware, public drop-in presentations, and that it won’t launch until after schools go back.

“The main objections to the original scheme were the proposed five-month road closure, as well as some technical design choices. I am therefore encouraged that SCC has ruled out day-time road closures and that the consultation will include the technical details of the scheme, with assurances that the design will only be finalised after the consultation.”

James Masterman speaking for G-BUG (Guildford Bike Users Group) also seemed content saying:  “We think the planned consultation will be adequate. SCC has been engaging with many interested and affected parties throughout the year, whilst amending much of the original London Road Active Travel Plan details that were causing local concern.

“Stakeholder meetings are to conclude in early September, at which time final scheme design and new construction plans will be made public.

“Anyone with a view will be able to make those views known, by responding in a number of ways to the consultation. GBUG would encourage all voices, many of which have thus far not been heard, to take part in this forthcoming comprehensive consultation programme.”

Cllr Howard Smith

And Cllr Howard Smith (Lab, Westborough) maintained his support for the project, commenting: “It’s very encouraging to see progress is being made, and the consultations are continuing.

“I cycle this route multiple times each week transporting my children and for shopping, and it will be wonderful for my kids to be able cycle it themselves soon too.

“All credit to SCC for this bold and exciting project. Great for drivers and air quality as well as cyclists. Hopefully the first of many such schemes.”

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Responses to New Plan for London Road Scheme ‘Engagement’ Receives Mixed Response

  1. Niels Laub Reply

    August 29, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    As far as the proposed consultation process is concerned, I have a number of issues:

    (1) we still have no idea as to the type of questions to be put to the public, what sort of responses they will be allowed to give and how their responses will be quantified and evaluated;

    (2) it is clear that the vast majority of people will be presented with the final proposals for the first time at the drop-in sessions and will not have had time to fully evaluate them in terms of the effect they may have on traffic congestion; air pollution; safety to all road users; and business loss or disruption both during the implementation stage and on completion when the active travel scheme is in place;

    (3) I’m not sure that the Stakeholder Reference Group has really been given much opportunity to actually shape the consultation process so far despite what they say.

  2. Peter Blow Reply

    August 30, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    I’m astounded money is still being wasted on this.

    The benefit, in terms of increase in cyclist use, will not make up for the hindrance caused. It’s a net negative scheme.

    Is this route being chosen because it’s pretty much the flattest main route in Guildford and therefore has the best chance of having anywhere near the (clearly incorrect) expected impact on cycle use?

    Guildford is a hilly town. People don’t cycle because they hate cycling up hills, not because they don’t have cycle lanes.

    Holland is flat. Loads of people cycle, just as they did before they had all the cycle lanes.

  3. Martin de Little Reply

    September 21, 2023 at 4:28 pm

    Am I missing something here? There has been no mention of a 20 mph speed limit being applied to this road. If much of London and Wales deem a 20 mph limit sufficient to fully “tick all the boxes” for: air pollution, noise, safety for pedestrians and cyclists etc why is it apparently not mentioned in this context?

    The cost of a handful of signs will be negligible, the inconvenience and disruption of digging up the road for months on end zero and the bonus… money not used to re-engineer the road can be used to make good the road surface and the pot holes, the very holes that currently make riding a push bike really quite dangerous.

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