Fringe Box



Waitrose Plan – Traffic Implications Don’t Add Up

Published on: 2 May, 2012
Updated on: 2 May, 2012

From Graham Hibbert

I attended the Waitrose presentation and fully support their entry into the Guildford market. I am, however, disappointed that the size of the site available to them does not allow them to share the site with a John Lewis store which I understand to be their preferred format.

The absence of a proper longer term plan to tackle Guildford’s chronic traffic problems also gives me serious concern about this development.  Waitrose say they have done a traffic survey and the impact of their development will be acceptable.

Without knowing the details, I cannot judge if this analysis is correct. However, what alarms me is the cumulative impact of the 25 developments described in GBC’s “Masterplan”. What assurance do we have that this has been properly analysed? We set off with an infrastructure deficit before any of these developments has started.

We have to find a solution to getting through traffic out of the centre of town. We know there is no money short term; that is why we have to plan long term and stop short term decisions blocking steps to solve Guildford’s long standing problems.

The absence of a proper plan is not just a worry for residents but also for business. Waitrose told me that they would be very unhappy if the bus station were to be moved (as GBC has already mooted) after they had built their store. They also don’t want Guildford’s frequent gridlock preventing access to their store.

GBC should not be held solely responsible for the absence of a proper plan for Guildford. It is the system that is at fault, with some of the planning being done by GBC, some by the County and some by the Highways Authority.

I believe that GBC should seize the opportunities offered by the Localism Act to break with the past and prepare a holistic plan for Guildford, so that business can invest in the town with certainty and residents can be free from the traffic chaos caused by the gyratory and the A3. The latter is a road that was built on the cheap – it was built too high which causes noise pollution from Burpham to Onslow, too narrow for the volume of traffic using it and, because it does not have four-way junctions, causes traffic to cross the town unnecessarily.

Solutions have to be found. They won’t be easy to see and perhaps tunnel vision is the answer. It will take years to fix but if we don’t start planning now, Guildford’s chronic traffic problems will prevent it reaching its potential.

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