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Parents Promise To Show How Awful Crossing Near School Will Be As Developers Move To Fill In Subway

Published on: 11 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 12 Jan, 2015

Parents and their children who attend Sandfield Primary School in Guildford will stage a protest tomorrow afternoon (Monday, January 12), over news that the pedestrian subway under York Road is being filled in by the new Waitrose store developers earlier than originally planned.

The pedestrian subway or underpass that runs under York Road that will now be filled in as from January 19.

The pedestrian subway or underpass that runs under York Road that will now be filled in as from January 19.

Parent Melanie Hancox and Sandfield Primary School governor Karen Fredborg say the Waitrose developer and Surrey County Council (SCC) have reneged on a deal to improve the York Road/Stoke Road pedestrian crossing before filling in the underpass (subway).

The protest they are planning involves what they call a ‘cross-a-thon’ on Monday after school to show the developers and SSC “how awful it will be if they do go ahead with their plans”.

In a statement they say: “As part of the planning agreement for the new Waitrose and housing development in Guildford town centre, the developer agreed to upgrade the two-stage traffic light crossing at the York Road/Stoke Road junction outside Sandfield Primary School.

“Safety at this crossing had long been a cause for concern with parents as the island in the middle of the road gets very congested at peak times with children, pushchairs, bicycles and scooters.

“Verbal promises were made to local councillor Caroline Reeves, and others, that the underpass along York Road would not be closed until the crossing had been upgraded. However, the developers have informed local residents that the underpass will be closed on January 19, with no indication as to when works to improve the crossing will begin.

“The underpass currently alleviates much of the foot-traffic that would cross at the lights at York Road/Stoke Road. Once the underpass is closed, the volume of foot-traffic at the already over-loaded crossing will only increase.”

Sign on the wooded fence around the new Waitrose development site reads '

Sign on the wooded fence the surrounds the new Waitrose development site reads ‘Considerate constructors respect the community’.

Guildford borough councillor for Friary & St Nicolas ward, Caroline Reeves (Lib-Dem), said: “Since I moved to Artillery Road in 1987 I have been aware of the dangers for pedestrians at the Stoke Road/York Road crossroads.

“I have supported the school for many years in their campaign to improve the safety. So I’m very disappointed to discover that, in spite or reassurances throughout the planning process that the safest way to work would be to fill in the underpass after the lights had been upgraded, this will not be the case.

“I have real concerns about the safety of all pedestrians who will use the existing crossings when the underpass is closed. Surrey Highways have agreed that all four crossings are unsafe and that the single existing pedestrian refuge is too small to handle the pedestrian traffic for Sandfield School and the Children’s Centre at drop off and pick up times, so I fail to see the logic in forcing everyone to use this unsafe facility.

“During the original planning application, once it was obvious that we had lost the argument to keep the underpass, I felt that at least the safety of pedestrians would be ensured with the upgraded crossroads. It seems that there is nothing to be done to change the order of work now, and once again traffic and drivers have been given preference over pedestrians.”

A peek into the construction site.

A peek into the construction site.

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Responses to Parents Promise To Show How Awful Crossing Near School Will Be As Developers Move To Fill In Subway

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 11:15 am

    This is typical of Surrey Highways – until they take their head out of the sand traffic and pedestrians will continue to be ignored.

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 11:29 am

    This is madness to close this underpass by a school and at a busy road junction.

    Even I find it dangerous to cross when using the lights at this junction, so how are teachers suppose to get a class of children across safely.

    When this went before planning at the council was the committee aware that the underpass would be closed?

    If so I cannot understand our local councillors agreeing to this. I would have thought planning application would include all changes around the new building area.

    Where is our MP for Guildford? I would like her to give her view on this.

  3. Stephanie Murrell Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    I agree that this will be quite unsatisfactory and unsafe.

    During the years my children were attending Sandfield School I witnessed many near-accidents and close shaves at the crossing, especially as motorists seem unclear a lot of the time as to how to proceed at this junction.

    From conversation I had with members of Surrey County Council regarding the difficulties for pedestrians crossing here I deduced that SCC’s main concern is to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

    By closing the subway the already unsatisfactory situation will be greatly exacerbated. The central island is too small for adults and parents with pushchairs and children to wait on safely and the time spent waiting for a green light for pedestrians to cross is far too long- which is why one often sees adults taking a chance to cross.

  4. Olga Mincur Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Sorry but is there not a crossing at the junction of York Road and Stoke Road (seen in the distance) and a underpass slightly further down at the bottom of Church Road?

    Walk an extra meter in the morning complainers!

    No wonder there is an obesity crisis!

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    It is disappointing to see that despite all the protestations, SCC and Waitrose have decided to go ahead and fill in the subway. I wish all the protesters well and hope no one sustains an injury as a result of reduced safety of the crossing during and after the construction phase.

    That subways provide the safest crossing of a busy road is undeniable, yet SCC and GBC seem to prefer closing them for reasons best known to them! Closure of Millbrook subway has affected flow of traffic very adversely and yet the same is being repeated here. Could this subway have been retained with steps only in conjunction with the new crossing?

    I do not know the details of the design layout but from what know of the area, I believe it would have been possible to remove the east ramp to create a level area for the at-grade crossing, replace the west ramp with steps and extending the subway southwards to go under Waitrose entrance lane to the car park.

    There may well be some anti-social activities out of hours within subways but these could be shut during these periods provided at grade crossings in tandem are available. For both these subways, I believe it would have been preferable to adopt such a solution.

  6. Graham Richings Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Closing any pedestrian underpass is ridiculous as can be seen in Millbrook. The closure of that underpass has caused traffic problems backing out onto the gyratory system. No Highway Authority in its right mind should ever close an underpass because they help to keep traffic flowing as well as providing a very safe place to cross the road. With adequate lighting and cameras an underpass is safe.

  7. Jackie Kennedy Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I am already concerned about the consequences of the York Road underpass being filled in, especially during rush hour times in the morning when people who work locally in Guildford as well as children are walking in this area.

    Having experienced the way cars move forward at busy times on the pedestrian crossing near the bus station (by the Lighting Centre shop/record shop), many car drivers do not see that they are moving forward when lights show green for pedestrians.

    York Road is a busy town centre road at peak times and I fear there will be a collision between a vehicle and pedestrian once the underpass is backfilled.

  8. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Yet again campaigners and even a councillor have been fooled by a verbal assurance. How naive can you be?

    At the very least, get it recorded in a record of conversation (ROC). Better still, a set of agreed minutes of meeting.

    In politics or business, if it’s not written down, it never happened.

  9. Mary Bedforth Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Irony is dead!

    ‘‘Considerate constructors respect the community’.’

    Shame on Waitrose and Borough and County authorities for their part for allowing this whole development and this latest action.

    No child shall be harmed.

  10. Terry Stevenson Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    The fact is that, however convenient, pedestrians generally loathe using pedestrian underpasses.

    I am sure footfall surveys prior to its closure would testify to this (as I expect they did prior to the closure of the Millbrook underpass).

    I imagine a comparison of use with the existing ‘at grade’ pedestrian crossing facilities at the York Road / Stoke Road junction would also support this theory.

    I think the motto clearly is, ‘if you don’t use, or snooze, you lose’.

  11. Hiram K Hackenbacker Reply

    January 12, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    What a dumb idea. Filling in the Debenhams underpass was bad enough and has caused traffic chaos ever since, now they’re doing it again! Thank goodness I will be moving away from Guildford this year and its looney council.

  12. Mike West Reply

    January 13, 2015 at 12:09 am

    I live two roads away from this underpass and it is my primary way into town. Why exactly is it being closed, wouldn’t it be the quickest route for me to Waitrose when it has been built?

    The York Road / Stoke Road pedestrian crossing is always a fun experience with the blind corner from Chertsey Street, heading south down York Road being the most dangerous of all with drivers taking it at high speed when it appears safe to cross.

    I expect the more people that use this crossing, the likelier it will be that someone will get hit trying to hurry across on their way to town.

    This being an area with a number of schools in the daytime and a number of pubs in the evening really benefits from a safer underpass, can’t Waitrose stick up a bridge instead?

    I also agree with the comments about the Millbrook underpass basically breaking the traffic flow around the gyratory, with the traffic lights going off every two to three minutes, that causes traffic all the way back to the York Road roundabout.

    Anyway, progress and all that. I’m all for Waitrose being on my doorstep, but why make the routes into town worse?

  13. Brian Holt Reply

    January 13, 2015 at 11:46 am

    This is slightly different to other subways closed in Guildford.

    It’s outside a junior school and many small children have to cross the road.

    And unlike the closed one outside Debenhams, this is at a busy cross roads, and remember drivers jump red lights now.

  14. Tim Reply

    January 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Another inspired decision by the anonymous bureaucrats who manage to screw up our lives everyday.

    I am pleased to see numerous references to the closure of the former Debenhams underpass, an action which has contributed to the daily traffic nightmare that is Guildford’s one-way system and is surely the biggest negative to life in Guildford.

    These guys never learn. Unaccountability means they can keep making awful decisions, keep their jobs regardless, go on strike when they fancy and retire on their index linked pensions. 🙁

  15. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 28, 2015 at 10:49 am

    As I have shown in my letter published here on “How It Is Possible To Retain Subway”, I would like those who are directly affected by the proposed closure of the subway to demand an explanation as to why the subway altered to have steps only cannot be kept in conjunction with the new surface crossing.

    I am not directly affected as I do not reside in Guildford but travel through the town fairly frequently.

    If Waitrose and SCC adopt my suggestion, only three or five car parking bays would have to go to make room for it.

    The subway would then continue to remain safe for the school children without accompanying adults while those with buggies and on wheel chair use the surface crossing.

    At busy times it would cut down a lot on the number of pedestrians using the new surface crossing and thus help traffic flow a little better.

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