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Trial Closure of Walnut Tree Close – Public Views Sought

Published on: 5 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 6 Jul, 2016

Walnut Tree Close 2016 1By Will Parsons

A trial closure of Walnut Tree Close for 18 months is being planned by Surrey County Council (SCC). Residents are being asked for their opinions.

The trial closure, partial or complete, would be part of a wider “Guildford Town Centre Transport Package” aimed at improving sustainable travel and reducing traffic congestion.

The intention is to reduce traffic on Walnut Tree Close, particularly vehicles using the road as a through-route between the A25 (opposite PC World) and the one-way system in Guildford town centre.

The road gets congested with vehicles during peak periods, especially since traffic on the one-way system makes it difficult for cars to exit on to the gyratory, as demonstrated by the video clip.

Rob Curtis, a transport strategy project manager at SCC, said: “At the moment we’ve got two options, one is a full closure and one is to make [Walnut Tree Close] northbound only.

“It’s an 18-month trial. If it does make traffic really bad in other areas then we’ll just pull it out completely.

“At the end of the trial, if it’s all gone well, then we’ll do something more permanent.”

SCC has begun a consultation period which will end on July 24. It is asking for people who live or work around Guildford, and who use Walnut Tree Close, to submit their opinions on the two options via an online questionnaire, which can be found on the county council’s website.

The council also held a series of public exhibitions outside Guildford railway station, from June 30 to July 2, to inform residents about the trial, as well as to distribute leaflets about sustainable travel options like cycle routes.

SCC held a public exhibition outside Guildford Station between 30 June and 2 July to inform the public about the planned closure and distribute leaflets on cycle routes.

SCC held a public exhibition outside Guildford Station between 30 June and 2 July to inform the public about the planned closure and distribute leaflets on cycle routes.

According to borough councillor Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), the road became the target for improvement after a petition was organised by local residents.

Cllr Reeves said: “Although there have been conversations about Walnut Tree Close for some time the petition really brought it into the public domain.”

Air pollution, severe delays caused by rush-hour traffic, and vehicles mounting pavements are among the issues cited in the petition calling for the closure of Walnut Tree Close, submitted by local residents in September 2013, which garnered over 160 signatures.

The petition also argues that closing the road could create safer conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, and improve access to local residences and businesses.

However, there are concerns that making the street one-way, or closing the street entirely, could be harmful for the businesses along Walnut Tree Close.

Matt Gunn, of Addison Glass & Windscreens Ltd., a business based on Walnut Tree Close, said: “With a full road closure this would obviously stop passing trade whereas the more favourable one-way traffic closure would still reduce trade but by a smaller percentage.”

Walnut Tree Close is home to various businesses including CCP Supplies, Addison Glass and Windscreens Ltd., and those in the Riverside Business Centre.

Walnut Tree Close is home to various businesses including CCP Supplies, Addison Glass and Windscreens Ltd., and those in the Riverside Business Centre.

A worker in Walnut Tree Close, who did not wish to be named, said: “A lot of our customers drive to us and until they get used to [the closure] I can see there being significantly less business.”

Walnut Tree Close was first made a through road in the 1960s to ease congestion in other parts of Guildford.

Hon Alderman Bernard Parke recalled this. He wrote: “Moving into the next century it has become a hive of commercial activity.

“Restricting traffic flows may work, but it must have a detrimental effect on the business community not only there but throughout the borough.”

Mark Rostron, of the Guildford Hackney Association, stated that, while he believed testing the effects of stopping traffic to be generally a good idea, it might result in increased taxi fares for some passengers to and from the station.

He said: “If possible I would make the restriction apply only in peak traffic periods, probably between four and seven pm.”

Mr Rostron also suggested that congestion could be reduced by improving traffic lights on the one-way system, “…so that traffic could exit Walnut Tree Close more safely.”

Walnut Tree Close has been targeted by Surrey County Council as one of seven areas for improvement under the Guildford Town Centre Transport Package. The purpose of the package is to make it easier to travel around the town centre by foot, by bike, and by public transport.

Proposed measures include widening pavements, improving bus stops, and creating better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians crossing busy roads.

One local cyclist said he was happy to hear that cycle routes were to be improved.

“Cycling through town can be a bit mental and hectic sometimes,” he said. “Maybe if they actually started spending some money on bike lanes, more people would want to cycle in town.”

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Responses to Trial Closure of Walnut Tree Close – Public Views Sought

  1. Dan Bagley Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I’ve always thought that this road should have restricted access. Let’s see how the trial goes.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Walnut Tree Close was not always a through road. It was made into one in the early sixties to relieve the traffic congestion in the Woodbridge Road.

    Since then traffic has increased considerably. Will the Woodbridge Road area now suffer once again from this proposed measure?

    If only these people would look back into the town’s problems of the past and speak to those amongst us who have had first hand knowledge of thee problems.

    Perhaps this is where the “wrinklies” can be of some use?

  3. Brian Holt Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Will this drive even more shoppers away from Guildford?

    Taxis coming out of the station with a fare to Stoughton, would have to struggle to get out of Walnut Tree Close into Bridge Street, then out of Woodbridge Road into Ladymead. With delays at more traffic lights and the meter going while stationary, fares will shoot up.

    The reverse journey from Stoughton, at present, is through Walnut Tree Close, but instead having to go Woodbridge Road, would mean delays at the traffic lights at the Ladymead junction, slow along Woodbridge Road, and then go round Guildford one way system to get to the station, adding a lot more traffic to the town centre.

    Getting out of Woodbridge Meadows to turn right to go towards to Ladymead and the A3 to London, is already a dangerous junction. Adding more traffic through the town for journeys both into and out of the station, before any improvements is made to the town traffic congestion, is stupid.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Forcing all traffic to access the station off the gyratory only would make congestion even worse.

    I would ask Rob Curtis as to why the option to take the southbound traffic to the railway station via an opened up Station View by Jewson’s yard not been considered? The western strip of land currently within the yard was being sold off by Network Rail but with the condition attached that 2003 Local Plan had safeguarded it for a possible route to the station.

    I do not know if the sale had gone through but both GBC and SCC were contacted by Network Rail and both replied with no objection to the sale. Why didn’t the councils buy the land?

    If Station View is extended northwards, connected to the road that leads to Jewson’s yard, and made one-way southbound down to where new housing is being built, such a route would provide a much netter access to the housing in Solum’s development (assuming this will go ahead in some form or other) as well as easing the Walnut Tree Close congestion when it is made one-way northbound from the station exit up to the junction with the road to Jewson’s yard.

    The sketch below on my website illustrates this along with other possible future infrastructures that could be built to improve traffic flow in Guildford.

    Some suggested installing traffic lights at the junction of Walnut Tree Close and Bridge Street to facilitate traffic exiting from the station.

    This would introduce additional waiting time on the gyratory. It would not work well. The lane from Bridge Street to Onslow Street is often blocked during peak periods because of tailbacks caused by the pedestrian crossing opposite Debenhams. To reduce tailback, I suggested making the crossing two-stage, with an island in the middle. Such an arrangement would increase southbound flow and reduce tailbacks.

    I had suggested introducing a chicane for the two northbound lanes but alternatively the offside lane could be used to create this island with a slight increase in queuing to northbound traffic but this would not materially affect the flow as two lanes would continue to be available north of the crossing.

    I hope both councils would examine these suggestions.

  5. Lee Thomas Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Bad idea, will cause traffic chaos at the the main round about and on the other side of the station. Also will impact the businesses on that road negatively.

  6. Mike Murphy Reply

    July 5, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    How can shutting a road make congestion better?

    I really don’t see where these so called road planners get their ideas from?

  7. Jim Allen Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Whenever I go to the station I use Walnut Tree Close because there is less traffic congestion.

    Blocking up a major route to the station could be viewed to be crazy. Surely we should be allowing buses to meet the trains, reducing the need to drive there in the first place?


  8. John Robson Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Unless you’re going to build a relief road somewhere else why do you need 18 months to understand what the implications would be of closing one of the main access routes through town onto the rest of the town centre traffic flows?

    I’m no “Transport Strategy Manager”, but surely if you just shunt the same amount of cars onto less Tarmac the result will be obvious.

    My five-year-old could draw you a picture. She would also tell you there is little point building town centre business parks if you can’t access them.

    Whilst I sympathise with the residents of Walnut Tree Close, only in bonkers Britain would this happen, it’s like saying I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

    What’s also staggering is that in this age of the outraged petition, only 160 signatures has forced the normally intransigent Surrey County Council to act. If only all petitions were made this way.

    We need to get people out of cars, but that will only happen once alternatives are provided. We need affordable, joined up, public transport networks. What will that take – 200 signatures?

  9. Guy Sutlieff Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Of all the ideas I have ever seen proposed by either the Borough or County Councils, this is without doubt the most stupid. How can closing one of the main access routes into Guildford possibly help congestion?

    Sometimes I think the councils are deliberately trying to sabotage Guildford by making it impossible to get into the town.

    I despair at times.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      July 6, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      A bit like a heart surgeon suggesting closing off a coronary artery for a trial period.

      Who would give their consent to a stupid idea like that? But the authorities are hell bent on killing the patient – so obviously they think it is a stroke of genius. Like the Local Plan.

      Anyone who has a season ticket to park at Guildford railway station should demand compensation.

  10. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 11:39 am

    As others have said, it seems strange that anybody would think closing a route within the already congested traffic system wouldn’t just move the problems to other roads.

    The councils keep putting up plans, now with a stated aim to make the drivers drive to Guildford, not through it.
    It sees to ignore the often stated fact that Guildford is a ‘gap’ town. You can discourage through traffic, but have to provide an alternative route. Some correspondents have proposed a new bridge across the railway for east/west travel.

    Returning to Walnut Tree Close, could one of the professionals please explain why this is the only junction on the gyratory system not controlled by traffic lights? Have the traffic managers in Surrey County Council considered this as a way to reduce the delays to traffic from the station?

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      July 8, 2016 at 8:13 am

      I do not claim to be a traffic professional but I have enough experience of such matters gained during my entire working life with the Highways Agency.

      I direct Martin Elliott to the second half of my previous comment.

  11. Marie Wright Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 11:55 am

    This will increase congestion and pollution elsewhere. Could the trial be shorter?

  12. Dave Middleton Reply

    July 6, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    There doesn’t need to be a trial. Anyone with half a brain will realise that this will just increase the congestion on the gyratory and on Woodbridge Rd and Ladymead. What a stupid idea.

  13. David Williams Reply

    July 7, 2016 at 8:09 am

    This will be like getting stuck in road works with no sign of any work going on whatsoever for 18 months. Who are the people that dream up this madness?

    Why 18 months when one week per quarter should give them the data? Why not do this by modelling. It really worries me to read the statement from Rob Curtis when he says: “If it does make traffic really bad in other areas then we’ll just pull it out completely.”

    Rob Curtis should be told that traffic is already really, really bad in other places and this is going to make it very much worse.

    No need for a consultation now.

  14. Sue Fox Reply

    July 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Given the traffic congestion getting in to Guildford from Stoughton and Worplesdon, during my 20 odd years of commuting I opted for Worplesdon station; it was great, much friendlier and, at the time, cheaper.

    Walnut tree Close is a self regulating traffic speed route I do wonder if the highways people ever try out their ideas.

    Yesterday I was lunching in London and used Woking because at the present there is only one ticket window operating and a 25 minute waiting time for service so if you have anything other than a standard ticket. Beware.

  15. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 8, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I sometimes wonder has Surrey County Council Highways Department really got a technical section or do they rely on zero hour contracts because they cannot afford to employ experienced and properly qualified permanent staff who are aware of the local issues?

    Use of consultants on call-off contracts is fine to even out the workload if in-house teams are fully stretched but the consultants have to be briefed very well and that requires adequate in-house expertise.

    Consultants, these days they are all contractors, have an aim, of course, to make a profit and not give out advice free of charge lest they compromise their insurance terms. So in effect the recommendations often lack any imaginative solutions.

    As a result we are offered unworkable solutions to traffic congestion like the options for Walnut Tree Close – a total waste of rate payers money.

  16. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 8, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    What a ridiculous idea! Who thought up this hare-brained scheme? Someone at Surrey County Council who wants to make his mark, however daft, presumably?

    Guildford has few enough through roads as it is, from east to west or, indeed, from north to south. Closing this road will be a disaster. Congestion and pollution will increase everywhere else.

    The businesses will suffer and may be forced to close. How good is that for the health of Guildford’s economy?

  17. H. Pannell Reply

    July 9, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    The rot set in when they closed the underpass at Debenhams. It’s those lights which cause awful tailbacks around the gyratory system.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      July 10, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      I agree it is indeed the cause of tailbacks around the gyratory. What could be done? The underpass has been filled in with concrete, so there is no chance of reopening it.

      A few had suggested building a footbridge but pedestrians hate long ramps and steps only is no longer compliant with the standards that demand disability access on ramps or lifts.

      There is a solution that would reduce the tailbacks and that involves altering the straight crossing into a two-stage one.

      The island in the middle could be created by introducing a chicane for the two northbound lanes or to minimise work and cost even further, the offside lane could be closed to create the island.

      This would increase the length of the northbound queue on the approach to the crossing but not materially affect the flow as two lanes would continue to be available immediately north of the crossing.

      I urge Surrey County Council to examine this suggestion. It could be carried out on an experimental basis with temporary lights, cones and barriers. If successful, a permanent arrangement could be designed and constructed in due course.

  18. Brian Holt Reply

    July 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    What would to happen to traffic coming out the railway station if ever another incident closed Bridge Street for some time.

    With Walnut Tree Close, shut off there is nowhere else to go.

  19. Bill Christmas Reply

    August 29, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I notice that all the comments above seem to be only concerned about the consequences for motor traffic. Is that because no-one cares about the residents? (Not that I am one.) I imagine other road users would benefit from the closure also.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      August 30, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Please see my comments of 5 July above.

      I consider my suggestions to be fair for all – the residents, the motorists and the businesses in Walnut Tree Close (WTC).

      No one would actually benefit from the closure. Surrey C C and Guildford B C should review their decision urgently before WTC scheme is put in place.

  20. Brian Holt Reply

    August 30, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    In reply to Bill Christmas’ remark about no-one cares about the residents, most of Guildford residents suffer from heavy traffic using their roads, some even have people parking all day outside their homes while they go to work, so why are Walnut Tree Close residents any different from us?

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