Fringe Box



Unease Over GBC’s £1.6 Million Pedestrian Plan For Repaving In ‘Historic’ Town Centre

Published on: 22 Jan, 2020
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2020

Some residents are unhappy with Guildford Borough Council’s £1.6 million pavement plans in Chapel Street, Swan Lane and Castle Street.

One aim of the £1.6m scheme is to improve accessibility in the busy, quaint Chapel Street.

Initial proposals show Chapel Street and Swan Lane pavements levelled and relaid with setts and York stone. Castle Street would be one-way with localised widening and a raised table at Chapel Street.

One letter to The Guildford Dragon NEWS said in support of the proposals: “Families with buggies, people in wheelchairs and the less able should be allowed to walk unhindered without looking down at every step they take.”

Others expressed concern at speeding issues in Castle Street and the historic area being badly affected by the works.

The approach to Swan Lane from the High Street is attractive but this is not mirrored at the North Street end where the pavement is in need of repair.

The council plan is to deliver the scheme over the next 12 months but the dates for construction and other details are still being worked on.

The pavement in Swan Lane looks to be in a poor state of repair in places.

Lib Dem council leader Caroline Reeves (Friary and St Nicolas) said: “When town centres are increasingly under pressure, this investment to develop our historic town centre will attract more visitors and be a welcome boost to the local economy.

“In focusing on Swan Lane, Chapel Street and Castle Street, we aim to improve accessibility, pedestrian safety and traffic management.

“This is part of our wider vision for further pedestrianisation of areas of the town centre as we continue to prioritise pedestrians over vehicles.

“Feasibility plans have already been written, following long-term consultation with local residents’ groups and engagement with retailers, including an online survey and several public events. We will again be in contact with all retailers to minimise the impact of our scheme.”

Cllr John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said that he was delighted to see the project moving forward to improve these areas in the town.

The council paper in November 2019 noted there were negotiations for a financial contribution from a landlord on Swan Lane but this “remains uncertain and unlikely as pressure on retailing continues”.

The Dragon has asked GBC whether there will be further consultation on the plans. A GBC spokesperson said: “We will be putting images, drawings and some FAQ’s in the public domain in the next few days.”

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Responses to Unease Over GBC’s £1.6 Million Pedestrian Plan For Repaving In ‘Historic’ Town Centre

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 22, 2020 at 11:42 pm

    Hopefully, if a speed table is installed at the junction of Castle Street and Chapel Street, it will not be done by the same contractors who did the appalling ones at the top of the Upper High Street.

    These are collapsing and a trip hazard for pedestrians, and for motorists they are like driving over a ploughed field.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 23, 2020 at 9:43 am

    I’ve already commented on the stupid idea of “improving” Chapel Street.

    Leave it alone! It is a rare historic part of Guildford that is fine as it is.

    As for Swan Lane, just do the lower end near North Street to match the paving near the High Street and you will remove unsightly patching and trip hazards.

    Leave the rest alone!

  3. John Perkins Reply

    January 23, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Cllr Reeves claims town centres are under increasing pressure. From whom or what?

    Further down the same article is the statement “pressure on retailing”, which is easily understood to mean fewer shoppers and less trade and therefore less pressure on the town centre.

  4. Richard Fuller Reply

    January 23, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    It is good to see GBC want to improve the central area for pedestrians but maybe they should also be looking at other areas. For instance, the pavements in the upper High Street which are uneven and have areas of poorly laid tarmac.

    Also the lack of crossings where there is a pedestrian right of way. For example, there is no point where pedestrians ever have a right of way to cross the road between the RGS and the Epsom Road or London Road junctions with Waterden Road.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      January 24, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      Perhaps a few people need to read the Code of Practice for all road users, The Highway Code.

      Maybe it’s just semantics, but they are very important in technical issues such as highway engineering or the courts and law.

      For example, the correct term for conflicting movement is ‘priority’; you won’t find the term Right of Way in The Highway Code, It’s associated with footpaths and bridleways.

      Similarly, are all these traffic calming measures being installed, be they chicanes (with a priority signage) or the rash of “tables”.

      Maybe their design, construction and purpose, are hidden in an authority ‘design code’, but there is nothing in The Highway Code.

      Maybe they are to slow down traffic (although they are often located at normal ‘slowing points’) or pedestrian crossings. That would be why mothers launch buggies onto the road at the top of Upper High Street.

      Well, it’s not in the Highway Code. Maybe, just maybe they are an aid to crossing like traffic islands, but a “Right of Way” or Priority, not documented for general road users.

  5. Lisa wright Reply

    January 23, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    You could build a few council houses for our homeless with that!


    January 25, 2020 at 8:59 am

    I am really struggling with the logic here. On one hand we have the R4GV stating there is not a bottomless pot of money and refusing to support a replacement bridge to Guildford mainline station (which has circa 8 million entries and exits annually) yet they seem keen to spend all of this money on two side streets both of which are visually fine.

    Sadly Swan Lane vacancy rate is nothing to do with the surface of the street and is more to do with rents, business rates and unwanted shop formats – the High Street empty units show that it’s nothing to do with whether the street has cobbled sets or not.

    Perhaps we could have some improvements to areas of the town where R4GV members don’t live?

  7. Paul Robinson Reply

    January 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    If I want to visit a town, whether the street is cobbled or not does not feature on my priority list.

    It is more a case of what shops are in the area. Even then I don’t want ‘high end’ shops.

  8. elisabeth markwick Reply

    January 25, 2020 at 5:22 pm

    I agree with the suggestion of improving the lower end of Swan Lane and leaving the rest in its historic format.

    It is attractive enough (especially Chapel Street) and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

    Trip hazards elsewhere should be rectified.

  9. Ben Paton Reply

    January 25, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Could Guildford Borough Council provide the the cost / benefit analysis that justifies this project?

    Will the effect on these streets be more than merely cosmetic?

    And after utility companies have dug up they roads a few times won’t they look similar in a few years’ time?

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 26, 2020 at 2:52 pm

      Talking of utilities, where are the plans to dig up all our roads to upgrade them for the new housing estates?

      As Ben says, utilities dig up newly resurfaced roads and paths.

      Would it not make sense to get a diary from the utility companies and refurbish after they have been through and not before?

  10. John Redpath Reply

    January 27, 2020 at 11:15 am

    It’s great to see so much interest in this important project but there’s also a lot of misunderstanding.

    Firstly, to Peter Knight: Swan Lane is in Friary & St Nicolas ward which is Lib Dem held.

    The Conservatives will quite likely be getting a nice big road bridge over in Ash and Labour will be getting a new sewage works at Slyfield.

    As far as Bedford Wharf is concerned, we are not stopping the bridge but questioning firstly its cost and secondly, if it were to go ahead, whether it should be included in the new Town Centre Master Planning for the area. Effectively making sure we don’t unnecessarily waste taxpayers (and LEP) money.

    Also, there will be future Public Realm projects that benefit other parts of the borough.

    There is another reason for improving these road surfaces and that is to benefit the refurbished museum.

    Tunsgate, Chapel Street and the new Castle Square will all form part of a circulatory route around the historic town core.

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in The Dragon article is that the improvements also include for extra security measures at the entrances to these streets and the High Street.

    These will help protect the public from terrorist threats.

    With regard to pavements: These are not meant to be a Guildford Borough Council problem. Surrey County Council are responsible for repairing pavements not Guildford Borough Council.

    It’s fantastic that The Guildford Dragon NEWS opens up these debates as it’s really important that the council doesn’t lose touch as it may have in the past.

    Even if this means giving people the opportunity to express their negative feelings to a pedestrianised, trip free, pushchair and wheelchair friendly route that has no lose paving slabs or setts!

    Sometimes it feels like the council just can’t win!

    John Redpath is a Residents for Guildford and Villages councillor for Holy Trinity ward

    • Wayne Smith Reply

      January 27, 2020 at 9:12 pm

      I’m pleased to see that John Redpath and Residents for Guildford and Villages are trying to make sure that taxpayers money isn’t wasted.

      It’s been said several times by councillors that if the Walnut Bridge project doesn’t go ahead, then they have to give back a grant of £1.5m to the LEP.

      One could be forgiven for thinking that’s what’s now driving this vanity project.

      Is that a good enough reason to spend £2.5m of Guildford council tax payers money or could the LEP grant actually be better utilised going back into the pot and contributing to another project, not necessarily in Guildford?

      After all, how many times have we heard that there’s no money tree?

      Lastly, the Overview and Scrutiny committee have now agreed to review the Walnut Bridge project. A committee chaired by Cllr Spooner, who previously led GBC and drove this project from its inception.

      In the interests of openness and transparency will he be excusing himself from any decision making of the committee?

    • Jim Allen Reply

      January 28, 2020 at 11:22 am

      Openness is so cheap. The council should practise it more often.

      It saves money on Freedom of Information requests and it saves money on multiple requests for clarification of news reports.

      Should the council get feedback consistently on one problem, they should actually listen.

      The strategic development framework document reads like the instructions from a Chinese manual translated into French then into English.

      We have a stream flowing up hill, we have roads going where roads shouldn’t go, and no increase in road capacity when it was deemed necessary in 1984.

      It is time to inform the council officers that they are not the oracle of all planning matters, and they are not working for GCHQ at Cheltenham!

      More openness and more listening, please.

  11. Peter Knight Reply

    January 27, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    Interesting comment from councillor Redpath.

    Silence on any reference to Chapel Street being in Holy Trinity ward but a note that Swan Lane is in Friary & St Nicolas ward.

    I think someone should inform GBC planning department as every application for Swan Lane is listed as Holy Trinity ward.

    So either we have a very inexperienced councillor who doesn’t know his own ward or our central planning team have it wrong.

    • Caroline Reeves Reply

      January 29, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      Swan Lane is in Holy Trinity ward. The boundary with Friary & St Nicolas ward goes up the middle of North Street, with Friary & St Nicolas on the north.
      Caroline Reeves is the Lib Dem leader of Guildford Borough Council and a councillor for the Friary & St Nicolas ward.

  12. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 28, 2020 at 9:40 am

    You have just confirmed the comments about loose paving and setts. Get those repaired and excessive money will not have to be spent on unnecessary “improvements”.

  13. Pete Knight Reply

    January 29, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Both Chapel Street and Swan Lane, as I suspected, (as a lay resident) both in Holy Trinity ward. Pretty shocking for this inexperienced councillor not to even know his own ward (especially the most valuable part of it).

    We are over six months in since the local elections and I’m yet to see anything positive from the Rv4G lot who are going to really struggle to leave any worthwhile legacy.

    Even these proposed works (which to be clear, I’d support if they weren’t stopping other more worthwhile schemes) were the ideas of Paul Spooner’s executive.

    So I’ll say again – let’s see some improvements in parts of town that Rv4g members don’t live in without delay please.

  14. John Perkins Reply

    January 31, 2020 at 10:28 am

    R4GV are not in charge. The Lib Dems are, albeit supported by the remaining Tories. In other words, little has changed.

  15. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 31, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Let’s build a cable car right up the middle of town so we don’t have to walk up the bumpy hill.

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