Fringe Box



Park And Ride Scheme Given The Nod Despite Ward Councillors’ Concerns

Published on: 7 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 10 Nov, 2012

The Onslow park and ride scheme was approved by Guildford Borough councillors this week (Tuesday, November 6), a decision taken immediately in the wake of the Waitrose planning approval.

Once again it was controversial and once again the impact on traffic congestion was one of the main concerns of those expressing objections.

The debate was more balanced than it been on the Waitrose application. Several of the councillors spoke against the proposal in addition to county councillor Fiona White (Lib Dem), who represents the area of Guildford West at County Hall.

Concerns among some councillors were known to exist that funds from central government and the land offer from the University of Surrey would both disappear if the project was not approved, a concern spelt out by Cllr Keith Taylor, (Con, Send). He said: “Some years ago, the university made those available a suitable area of land for this third park and ride. Significantly, this agreement is due to expire early in 2013.

“Last year we were all delighted to learn that the government had given Surrey more than £20 million for its sustainable transport fund, £4 million of which was allocated to Guildford for the construction of a park and ride site. Again this money will be lost unless county are in a position to commence this construction work almost immediately.”

But Cllr Fiona White, who spoke as a member of the public, said: “Let me be clear – I am in favour of the principle of park and ride sites around Guildford to reduce the number of vehicles going into the town centre. What I am not in favour of is the access via the Egerton Road system.

Map showing the proposed Onslow park and ride site

“The two existing purpose-built sites at Artington and Merrow are in the right places to capture that traffic but far enough away from residential areas not to have a direct impact. This does not apply to the Onslow site.”

Cllr James Palmer (Con, Shalford) Lead member for Town Centre and Transport, was given special permission to address the planning committee. He said: “For the past decade it has been part of this council’s planning policy to establish a park and ride to the west of the borough and in particular in the Onslow area. I therefore ask the committee tonight in considering this application to bear that in mind so that we can realise that policy. The benefits are manifold.

“To those that have said that they are for park and ride in principle but not on this site – then where is that site?

“I have heard from the county councillor a lot of ‘what ifs’ but the committee has to deal with the application now and not what could have been.

“In conclusion… I would urge the committee to make a meaningful contribution…”

At this point Cllr David Goodwin shouted loudly “Okay!” and then addressed the chairman Cllr Gordon Jackson (Con Pirbright), and said: “…I have been part of this planning committee for 14 years … this I see as nothing more than a three line whip. The Executive member here [Cllr Palmer] hasn’t normally got the right to speak at this committee … and now he is giving political direction and policy direction to committee members – and that I find is bang out of order.”

The chairman explained that he had agreed to Cllr Palmer speaking and that he did not interpret what he had said as direction: “I am sure that members of the planning committee are quite independently minded.”

Cllr Palmer responded: “To suggest that I am giving some kind of whipped direction is completely outrageous if not defamatory.”

Onslow park and ride plan – Click in image to enlarge

Cllr Tony Phillips (Lib Dem, Onslow) proposing a motion to refuse the application said members should ask themselves four questions:

“Will the new park and ride site bring excessive additional traffic to local roads? Yes it will.

Is the necessary highways infrastructure to easily access the site being proposed? No it isn’t.

Is the park and ride site in the right location? No it isn’t.

What should happen with the application?  It should be refused.

Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough) said: “Why will anyone wishing to use the park and ride negotiate this notoriously congested area? The answer is that they won’t. [Local roads] are already at capacity.

“So what – that the option this piece of land is about to expire and the £4 million from government won’t be available unless this scheme is built now? I don’t feel pressurised to agree with the recommendation to approve… just because the option was not taken until now.”

A total of 14 councillors voted to grant permission, seven were against.

Today (Wednesday, November 7) David Hodge, the leader of Surrey County Council, said: “This scheme will reduce traffic congestion in and around Guildford town centre by encouraging more people to travel into the town centre by bus. It will help local businesses and benefit the environment by reducing air pollution. I believe the park and ride will also attract more visitors to Guildford.

“By working together on this scheme, the county and borough councils aim to support economic growth and improve people’s quality of life.”

Cllr Palmer added: “Work is also continuing on investigations into possible solutions to the on-street parking and through traffic issues in the Westborough area. An action plan for this is expected by late August 2013.”

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Responses to Park And Ride Scheme Given The Nod Despite Ward Councillors’ Concerns

  1. Ray Springer Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I am completely against the scheme in its present form. The only consolation, now it has been given planning approval, is that I have my doubts as to whether it will ever be used.

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    It’s not surprising that this Park and Ride site got the go ahead.

    Cllr James Palmer (Con, Shalford) and the other councillors who voted in favour, couldn’t care less as they don’t live in this area.

    They will be unaffected by the extra traffic congestion.

    Had this been in Shalford, where he is a councillor, his vote would have been different.

    [Point of information. Cllr Palmer does represent Shalford Ward but lives in Clandon Road, Guildford (source GBC website). Editor]

  3. Fiona White Reply

    November 10, 2012 at 10:14 am

    The only positive I got out of the debate at the Planning Committee last Tuesday was the very clear promise that the Council is seriously looking for a site to the north of Guildford which would take some of the traffic coming in from the Ash, Normandy, Pirbright direction.

    It is essential that they should identify a site without any further delays so that people living in Park Barn and Westborough don’t suffer even worse traffic problems in future due to the opening of the Onslow Park & Ride. The Borough Council have been looking for about 10 years now. That’s quite long enough and residents need to see some action.

  4. Julian D S Lyon Reply

    November 12, 2012 at 7:28 am

    I was at the meeting and found the Park & Ride debate a bizarre discussion… see full comment in ‘Letters’.

  5. Colin McCarthy Reply

    March 25, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    I see the Onslow Park and Ride Scheme has now been approved. If I am correct this site will have about 550 spaces for cars and the drivers and passengers will use buses to go into the town centre. As a result there will be more traffic congestion in the Westborough and Park Barn Areas and the link roads to the A3.

    I am sure the Park & Ride buses themselves, going into town and back will get stuck in the traffic congestion, never mind the existing public service buses. These are a top priority for the residents of Westborough, Park Barn and other local areas.

    Believe me this site is not the most appropriate to have a Park and Ride Scheme. My career has been in engineering and I am wondering if mathematical modelling has been considered for the scheme?

    I always believe in looking at a picture but it is only when you take several steps back from the picture that it becomes clear.

    To have wisdom and knowledge is good but I put plain common sense, in this instance, to be more important.

  6. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Ideally the entrance and exit to this car park should be from the A3 but the Highways Agency scheme for the improvement of the A3 along this stretch has been shelved. In the interim, GBC and SCC had no option but to locate access to it from now signalised junction that has replaced the hospital roundabout.

    A 50-seater bus would replace, say, 35 cars and so there would be 35 cars taken off the road for every bus on the road. Not a bad reduction in traffic at all.

    The existing off-slip to Tesco roundabout could be relocated to connect with the Park & Ride and then Tesco roundabout. A new on-slip from it located on the space of the vacated off-slip road would take traffic to the northbound A3. Hopefully, the Highways Agency will look into such an arrangement when the scheme is resurrected.

    You can see the sketch showing such an arrangement by accessing the link ;-

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