Fringe Box



Walnut Tree Bridge Replacement Will Allow Improved Access To The Town Centre

Published on: 22 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2015

Walnut Tree Bridge from the river towpath. Currently, cyclists on the towpath have to carry their bikes up the steps on the right if they wish to cross the river at this point.

Walnut Tree Bridge, a footbridge over the River Wey crossing from Walnut Tree Close, by the railway station, to the area by the Odeon cinema is to be replaced.

A new “iconic” bridge is to be constructed, wide enough to be used by cyclists as well as pedestrians.


The new bridge will be wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists. The existing bridge, opened in 1986, used to have decorative lighting which fell victim to vandalism.

The announcement came during last night’s (Jul 21) Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Executive meeting where approval was given to purchase a parcel of land, measuring 58 sq metres for £120,000, necessary to provide a wider access.


The small parcel of land between the two buildings has been purchased by the council to facilitate the installation of a wider bridge. Presumably the walnut tree will have to be moved.

It is anticipated that construction of the new bridge will commence late 2016 and be completed in 2017.

Once completed, the bridge will allow an improved “gateway” route for those on foot, or on bikes, to move between the station and the town centre.

Currently, most pedestrians cross the river by Onslow Bridge using a pavement alongside the, frequently congested, gyratory, a route Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), lead councillor for the environment and infrastructure, described, during the debate, as “not safe”.

5,000 pedestrians were recorded crossing the bridge in a 12-hour-period, during a Saturday last December (2014).


Steps to the bridge from the east or town side.

Cllr Richard Billington (Con, Tillingbourne), lead councillor for rural economy, countryside, parks and leisure, requested that good lighting and CCTV be incorporated into the scheme for public safety.


Currently no cycling is allowed on the bridge.

Cllr Matt Furniss said today (July 22): “The new bridge will not only be wider but an iconic gateway into the town from the railway station.

“We have already been working on improving the whole towpath link, including the new Wooden Bridge crossing, from the town centre through to Burpham, for cyclists and pedestrians. This will improve the river environment and provide an alternative sustainable corridor away from the roads.

“Now that the land purchase is complete we are starting design work and will be consulting with the National Trust and local stakeholders. All the schemes are funded.

Councillor Caroline Reeves, (Lib Dem, Friary and St Nicolas) said: “Regular users of this bridge will be delighted to hear this news. I have frequent complaints about it being unsafe, the steps have been a trip hazard and in the winter it is often like a skating rink.

“A replacement bridge combined with an upgrade to the area around it will create a much better walk to and from the station and is a welcome first step to improving pedestrian and cycle access to the town centre.”


The nearby Old Orleans restaurant has been closed for years.

Cllr Susan Parker (GGG, Send) said: “This footbridge is very important.  A cycle path on this bridge is a good proposal, assuming there is some separation or protection for pedestrians, so widening of the bridge seems appropriate.

“Guildford’s “Mastervision” is still not public, but I understand that this footbridge will represent part of a network of paths and cycle tracks around the town centre and I welcome it accordingly.

“I hope the design will be of a high standard and the public will be consulted.”

Julian Lyon, chairman of the Guildford Society said: “This is a welcome sign that the council is starting to implement some of the works to open up the riverside and provide pedestrian and cycle links between the station and the town centre. 

“This is only a beginning and The Guildford Society is keen to make sure that the town centre vision as initiated by Guildford Vision Group and developed by Allies & Morrison on behalf of the council, is taken forward to open up the riverside and resolve long-standing environmental and traffic problems.”

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Responses to Walnut Tree Bridge Replacement Will Allow Improved Access To The Town Centre

  1. Peter Acherley Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Whilst this is a start I have no idea why it is so long before work commences ie the end of 2016.

    Also, what is going on with the Old Orleans site? The whole area around the Odeon is no more welcoming than Bridge Street.

    • Richard Taunton Reply

      August 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Some of Bridge Street is indeed very ‘welcoming’.

      Try no. 3, where you will find my shop PJ Hifi.

      You will always get a great welcome if you visit to check out all the latest great sounding Hifi and ancillary equipment.

      I have been here since 1989, and have recently just finished a series of refurbishments,repairs and flood defences following the floods of December 2013.

      Come on, and have a look, and listen. Tell me I sent you!

  2. Dave Middleton Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    It’s good that this bridge is to be replaced and made more user friendly. However, there will have to be simultaneous improvements to the access to the bridge from the railway station and also to the footway on Bedford Road & Onslow Street adjacent to the “Casino”, both of which are narrow and frequently overcrowded, if a true improvement is to be achieved.

    At present, the natural flow from the railway station to the town centre is to the pelican crossing and down Bridge Street. Some positive signing and perhaps even moving the pelican crossing to tie in with the new bridge would seem to be essential.

    We understand that improvement to the bridge’s access points will be included in the project, which it was necessary for the council to purchase the extra area of land. Ed.

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    There is no doubt that this bridge needs replacing with a wider one and the crossing made suitable for cycles, wheelchairs and buggies. Access from the tow path would require a long ramp and there may not be sufficient width to accommodate this.

    The question of crossing Walnut Tree Close (WTC) would still remain unless the council is planning to close it for vehicular traffic.

    As far as I am aware, the development of the railway station by Solum Regenration has not addressed the access to the platforms by lifts since existing ramps are too steep for the physically challenged.

    Neither has the issue of pedestrian access from Guildford Park Road over the tracks using either the existing footbridge or a completely separate one (I guess preferred by Network Rail).

    All platforms are accessed by the existing footbridge except platforms 1 & 2 via the main entrance. An option should be looked at where rail travellers could continue on to access the town centre without having to go down to the ground level, crossing WTC by a new bridge and similarly the busy Onslow Street.

    Such an arrangement would provide a complete separation of pedestrians and traffic – the safest possible option.

    Access from a high level walkway could be direct, with suitable alterations to the Friary, in addition to steps, escalators and lifts housed outside on Onslow Street. The walkway could connect the development on Bedford Road car park if the original proposal is resurrected by the council.

    Ground level routes from the station would continue to provide access to the town centre. The high level walkway could be closed out of hours, if deemed necessary, to prevent anti-social activities. Of course this means negotiations with Solum Regeneration whilst their planning application is under review.

    My suggestion for a high level walkway is the sketch on the link
    and a possible replacement bridge is the sketch following this one accessed by clicking on the right arrow on the sketch.

    • Terry Stevenson Reply

      July 26, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      I welcome Mr Neogi’s enthusiasm for the needs of those that are physically challenged in relation to the railway station and the proposed Solum development.

      However, not so long ago, I recall him and others bemoaning the possible impact that the county council’s bus stop programme would have on other road users.

      A major part of this programme related to making buses more accessible for physically-challenged users. And in respect to those changes, has the predicted carnage (both congestion and accident) become manifest?

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 26, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Mr Terry Stevenson clearly has not understood the reasons behind my comments on, “filling in existing bus bays and creating bus stops on single carriageways”.

    To make buses user-friendly for wheel chairs and buggies etc, buses need to be designed with platforms that lower or tilt enough to enable easier access. This has nothing to do with filling in bus bays.

    The problem that buses get trapped in the bus bays and lose time because they are unable to rejoin the traffic was the main reason behind this wasteful solution by the council. I suggested the painting of yellow boxes alongside bus bays would be sufficient to deal with this at locations where such problems exist.

    I would ask Mr Stevenson to have a look at my website. He may be pleasantly surprised how much improvements could be possible for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists if councils take on board the ideas presented.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 26, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Here we are after three years and it looks like the replacement work might start soon. The councils are spending some £5 million but looking around Guildford town centre problems for pedestrians, as observed by the Local Plan inspector, this scheme is still hardly the most urgent.

    It should be acceptable for cyclists to dismount and walk some 100 ft with their bikes, for the time being.

    Development of Bedford Wharf is still a long way away and the preferred pedestrian route from the station would still remain via Bridge Street until the station development is completed and that is also a few years away.

    What is needed is to reduce Bridge Street to two lanes of traffic and space gained used for widening the north footway. This could be made possible when the offside lane of cars on Farnham Road Bridge turn right taking the place of the useless fourth lane of Park Street that runs northwards for the speedy Gonzaleses! This lane of traffic could then go ahead straight to Portsmouth Road or turn left on to the Friary Bridge (replacing again the barely used lane) and then right into Millbrook.

    Very little physical alteration work would be needed except some additional signs. However, I think the councils haven’t got the courage to do this in case it does not work but why not try it on an experimental basis and assess see the results? I am confident that this would be a great improvement to traffic flows and at the same time make Bridge Street a lot safer for the pedestrians.

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