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Tackle the Traffic First – Guildfordians Tell The Vision Group

Published on: 2 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 12 Oct, 2012

Visitors to the Vision Group’s event place stickers on a map to record their concerns and priorities

Tackling Guildford’s congested roads should be the top priority for Guildford planners according to residents who attended The Guildford Vision Group’s ‘Drop-In’ event on Saturday (September 30).

In just over two hours, more than 250 people took the time to offer comments on how Guildford and its town centre should change to meet the challenge of the 21st century.

High on their agenda, after tackling traffic problems, were integrating modes of transport, reducing surface parking and opening up the river for the enjoyment of all. Many summed up their views with a demand for better town planning, more visionary design and much better consultation.

They were taking part in a drop-in session hosted by Guildford Vision Group (GVG) and run by urban master planners, Allies & Morrison, whose credentials include the layout of the Olympic Park.

Caroline Reeves (Friary & St Nicolas) the only Lib Dem Councillor to attend the event had reservations. She said: “The overwhelming impression on my two visits to the ‘Drop-In’ was how remarkably similar it was to the June 2011 consultation at Millmead put on by our own Planning team.

The main difference was that at Millmead there was more scope for comment, more diverse sites to comment on, and more people attended. The comments made at that consultation, which have been incorporated into the Interim Framework document are very similar to those made on Saturday.

“Missing at both events were the people who will be living, working and spending money in the town in twenty years time, the teenagers, twenty and thirty years olds of today.”

But John Rigg, chairman of GVG was pleased. He said of the event: “This was just a taster to show people how their opinion might be used to shape plans for the town and its centre..” Allies & Morrison very kindly gave of their time freely to help run the consultation. We put the session together in a short time and were very pleased with the result. We may well organise another larger, more comprehensive consultation exercise.”

Large posters of envisioned Guildford streetscapes were on view

Participants were able to see two large posters illustrating how an area of the town might look if fully pedestrianised, and how the river corridor might be opened up attractively for the public to enjoy. On another large poster depicting an aerial shot of the town, people were able to ‘post’ their comments on particular locations. GVG recorded almost 350 separate comments.

Bill Stokoe, GVG steering group member, said: “It was really interesting to learn what a good range of people saw as the main issues for Guildford and its town centre.

A graph showing issues raised by those who took part in the GVG survey (click on image to enlarge)

“We’ve completed a first analysis of the key issues recorded on the day and it’s no surprise traffic and traffic-related issues are top of their concerns. There was also a strong desire to see more pedestrianisation and a better experience for those on foot – visitors, shoppers and residents alike. Overall, there was just a desire to see better town planning, better design and better consultation.”

GVG believes competition with other towns for business, retail, commercial, industrial, and leisure opportunities,  means the town has to respond to the challenge if its economic future is to be secure and sustainable.

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Responses to Tackle the Traffic First – Guildfordians Tell The Vision Group

  1. Bibhas Neogi

    October 3, 2012 at 7:22 am

    It is no surprise that number one priority is again overwhelmingly cited as the transport issues. Transport for Guildford (TfG), a body set up by the Guildford BC, that includes representatives from various stakeholders have not been heard of since funding for improvements to Guildford traffic was withdrawn in 2010. Surrey CC web site still shows it as a living body but there has not been much in evidence that it is still functioning. TfG could provide much needed input into the various traffic issues.

    Guildford Vision Group’s web site includes a section on ‘Suggested Solutions – Your Vision’ that has attracted a number of contributions recently but there has been a couple of in-depth contributions (lying insignificantly at the very bottom of the list) on these issues. Mine is titled ‘A possible traffic solution’ although the document covers much more. It covers railway station redevelopment, bus station relocation and new bus stops combined with improved waiting areas, wider and hence safer footways in Bridge Street and Lower Farnham Road, new cycle lanes and cycle access to the town centre using a remodeled gyratory etc.

    Let’s hope that GVG would continue to provide this facility for the interested members to contribute their ideas although GVG itself, as stated by them, do neither endorse nor promote these ideas. Quite rightly so, these ideas are for the Councils to consider, appraise and adopt if appropriate.