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Residents Still Uneasy About Ash Station £23m Rail Bridge Plan

Published on: 12 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 19 Dec, 2020

Ash level crossing

By David Reading

The controversial proposal to build a road bridge over the railway line at Ash goes before Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee early next year.

The council believes the bridge will reduce the Ash station traffic congestion that has plagued the village for years. As occupiers move into new homes this would only worsen.

The level crossing will stay open until a footbridge is installed after the road bridge is built, planned for 2023. Network Rail identified the crossing as a safety hotspot and want it closed.

The number of trains passing through Ash will increase from 2021, with extra services to Gatwick Airport, Reading, Redhill, Guildford and Farnham. That means more use of the crossing,

But some resident have deep reservations, questioning whether this will just move the traffic problems elsewhere and expressing concerns about the cost, said to be nearly £23 million.

The proposed route of the new Ash flyover or bridge. Image GBC.

Traffic heading toward Guildford on the A323 would be routed along Ash Church Road into Foreman Road, to join a new roundabout near or at the access to the Ellsworth Park development.

The vehicles would then pass over the railway bridge, through the new Copperwood development, joining the roundabout at the end of Ash Hill Road (the Dover Arms site).

Cllr John Rigg

Cllr John Rigg (R4GV), the borough’s lead for major projects, said: “I am very pleased we are moving forward with this important infrastructure project for Ash residents.

“We received some very positive contributions from residents in our public information sessions last year, and there will be further opportunities for participation and feedback as we progress through the planning process.

“The new road bridge, and planned footbridge, provide badly needed infrastructure investment following regeneration of the area, especially the arrival of new housing. The plan is to make the area safer and less congested.

“The crossing barrier is down for up to 25 minutes every hour so has a huge impact on local residents, especially as cars often queue for long periods with engines running.”

John Dymott

But John Dymott, chairman of Ash Residents Association (Ashra), said: “A lot of people are against this project, so how can it be argued it’s in the interests of the people of Ash?

“One fundamental issue is to ensure the footbridge is definitely going ahead. To hope it will is not good enough. If it doesn’t, this will presumably mean the crossing will remain open, which defeats the whole object.”

Along with others, Mr Dymott questioned whether the road bridge would actually solve traffic problems. Some predict increased congestion at the roundabout of the A323 and Ash Hill Road and at the Foreman Road end of the bridge.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Cllr Paul Spooner (Con ‘ind’, Ash South & Tongham), said: “I look forward to studying the officers’ report and understanding the timeline and funding for delivery of a bridge that meets the needs of local residents and ensuring before any road bridge is built, provision includes a DDA-compliant pedestrian bridge (suitable for people with disabilities) at or very near Ash station.”

The council is supported by a grant from Homes England Housing Infrastructure Fund, as well as Section 106 developer contributions. A Section 106 is a legal agreement between a planning applicant and the local planning authority to mitigate the impact of new homes on the community and infrastructure.

On December 18, a spokesperson for Network Rail added: “We continue to work with Guildford Borough Council to support the Ash project, which includes the building of the road bridge, construction of the footbridge and closure of Ash level crossing.

“We support the council’s aim to close the level crossing, alongside its housing plans for the area as the building of a road bridge and a footbridge provide a safer option for drivers and pedestrians.”

 

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