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One-Way Trial for Walnut Tree Close Unsupported By Local Lib Dem Councillors

Published on: 30 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 1 Dec, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

Five years after a petition from residents for action on the peak hours congested road, a one-way trial on Walnut Tree Close is finally going ahead.

Walnut Tree Close one-way trial is now in operation starting at the railway bridge.

Reaction to the scheme has ranged from, “Why not give it a try and let’s see the results?” to Lib Dem councillors, including the deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council, Caroline Reeves stating they do not support the scheme.

Highways authority Surrey County Council say that the trial between Sunday, November 29 2020 and February 17 2021 aims to improve safety and air quality and “to reduce delays on the road, particularly during peak hours, and to avoid congestion around Guildford gyratory”.

Cycle lanes have been included in the one-way section.

The Lib Dem councillors, who supported the scheme when it was first raised as part of the Town Centre Transport Package, said in view of the current Covid pandemic “the timing is all wrong”.

County councillors Angela Goodwin (Guildford North) and David Goodwin (Guildford South West) with borough councillors Caroline Reeves (Friary & St Nicolas) and Tom Hunt (Friary & St Nicolas) all Lib Dems said there is no clear mechanism to see whether the trial is successful.

They also say that it will encourage traffic along the already congested Woodbridge Road and Onslow Street at a time when the continuous bus lanes are being introduced.

Lead councillor for Regeneration and Major Projects, John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “The scheme for a one-way trial on Walnut Tree Close has been developed by Surrey County Council over the last four years. The decision to proceed with the trial at this time rests with Surrey County Council.

“We understand that Surrey County Council will be monitoring changes in traffic across local roads during the trial and will assess the outcomes before making any decisions on whether to propose the one-way system is made permanent.”

Impact on businesses will be “diabolical” said Matt Gunn of Addisons in Walnut Tree Close.

Cllr Rigg when chairing the Guildford Joint Committee on November 18 mentioned the sequence of projects along Walnut Tree Close from January to June 2021. These included works for Solum on the development of the Guildford railway station, and the new Walnut Bridge.

Commenting on the likely congestion as a result of the works, he remarked: “It’s somewhere for most of us to avoid in the near future.”

Mark Brett-Warburton (Con, Guildford South East) supported the experiment and said: “It is worth giving the trial a try.

“We have to recognise there is a potentially major movement of people to the university, hospital and business park, encouraging different ways of getting to these places from the town centre must be one of the positive changes needed for Guildford.

“I recognise the impact that the trial will have on other roads and drivers moving across Guildford, but we have to also recognise that we must explore some radical changes to our infrastructure to try and break free from the trap of just adding more vehicles to an already saturated road system.”

Walnut Bridge will be replaced in 2021.

There was a mixed reaction to the trial from residents and businesses.

Matt Gunn, assistant manager at Addison Glass, said: “Personally it will be better for me as I will be able to get out without the delays and traffic jams. But for the business it is diabolical. We won’t get the passing trade and every one of our vans will have to go through town. That could take an extra 20 mins.

“The problem is there are too many cars in town. If public transport was better and cheaper, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

Local resident Chris Millyard said: “Why not give it a try, and then let’s see the results.”

Walnut Tree Close is a D class road and takes more traffic than it was designed for.

A spokesperson for SCC said: “Walnut Tree Close is a D class road that is not designed to cope with the current levels of traffic or congestion at the exit into the gyratory. This has created a significant road safety concern to residents, pedestrians, cyclists and other road users on Walnut Tree Close.

“Other roads leading into Guildford town centre such as Woodbridge Road, Stoke Road and London Road (A3100) are more appropriate to carry through traffic.

“Rerouting traffic will result in some increase of traffic on other roads. It is this impact of the rerouting of traffic that will be monitored and assessed at the end of the trial to determine whether to make the one-way system on Walnut Tree Close permanent. The improved environment for cycling and walking will also assist in reducing congestion around Guildford by removing traffic exiting at Walnut Tree Close.”

Walnut Tree Close one-way trial proposals.

(See also Dragon Interview: Walnut Tree Close Traffic restriction Proposals)

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test 4 Responses to One-Way Trial for Walnut Tree Close Unsupported By Local Lib Dem Councillors

  1. D Bisdee Reply

    December 1, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Having the trial is inappropriate during a period when traffic is reduced, due to coronavirus restrictions (people not going in to work, much less commuting to London, less use of the trains in general).

    Walnut Tree Close used to get particularly congested in rush hours and at times when people are meeting train passengers because there being no buses directly serving Guildford station.

    The present is not exactly a typical period of time and the trial will be meaningless.

    As has been said, the one-way system will also just divert traffic to the Guildford gyratory and, for those trying to get to the station, to The Chase.

  2. Alan Morris Reply

    December 1, 2020 at 11:49 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with the opinions expressed in the first comment. The results of the trial will in truth be invalid if they are used to justify the permanent imposition in the future. I can also foresee it leading to elevated levels of congestion in Bedford Road caused by drivers by drivers picking up or dropping passengers bound for the station during peak rush hours.

  3. Peta Malthouse Reply

    December 2, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    I used to work from Offices on Woodbridge Road. Traffic is already a nightmare. The very small ring-road known as “the gyratory” will only see less traffic if a larger ring-road is constructed. Walnut Tree Close provides access and egress to the station at which buses don’t stop.

    Closing Walnut Tree Close to so-called “through” traffic simply puts more stress on the gyratory and Woodbridge Road used by most of us. Fiddling around at the edges does not help.

  4. Sue Warner Reply

    December 3, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    I agree with other comments, I live facing Woodbridge Road – not a good time to test a one-way system when traffic levels are reduced but people will forget and the council can glibly quip “oh but we did a trial”.

    Even though there is less traffic the queues on Woodbridge Road have increased with more fumes and more impatient drivers constantly honking their horns. Decisions obviously made by people who don’t live here.

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