Fringe Box



Walnut Tree Close One-way System to Become Permanent

Published on: 28 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 28 Mar, 2023

Walnut Tree Close now permanently one-way for cars and two-way for bikes.

By Emily Coady Stemp

local democracy reporter

A busy Guildford road will be permanently made one-way despite concerns over a “flawed” consultation carried out by the council.

Walnut Tree Close, which runs past the station to Woodbridge Meadows and to the A25, has twice been trialled as a one-way system.

A petition presented to Surrey County Council called for the one-way system to be stopped, claiming it was adding “considerably to many people’s journeys and causing congestion and inconvenience”.

The council aimed to make Walnut Tree Close a “local road providing access to businesses and residents” again, rather than a “commuter rat-run route to Guildford Station”, according to council documents.

The change also aimed to improve air quality, with a reduction in traffic along Walnut Tree Close.

But Joan Donnelly, presenting the petition at a cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and growth decisions meeting at the county council on Tuesday (March 28), said the road offered a direct route to Guildford station from the densely-populated area north of Guildford.

She said the roads drivers had to take instead were “heavily congested” and went through the town centre via the “bottleneck” one-way system there, taking “considerably longer to get to the railway station”.

Dr Donnelly told the meeting the petition was now signed by 449 people, and also highlighted a lack of emergency access and no bus or public transport access.

Questioning the public consultation carried out seven years ago, and the council reports on the plans, she also claimed there had been no equality impact assessment on the plans.

She told the meeting: “It’s an incredibly flawed consultation, poor analysis and absolutely incomplete consideration of alternatives and the infrastructure here.”

But a letter submitted by the Guildford Bike User Group (G-Bug) Committee, on behalf of its more than 300 members, said the group was “in total support of the scheme”.

The letter said: “We feel it has worked well and two-way cycling along Walnut Tree Close is now a much safer experience.

“We understand that the scheme is stand-alone at the moment, but we look forward to seeing Walnut Tree Close cycling integrated into the Sustainable Movement Corridors proposed for Guildford.”

Map showing the location of Walnut Tree Close in Guildford. It is now permanently one-way for motor vehicles, only allowing northbound through traffic. Apple maps

A temporary southbound closure of the road was put in place from November 2020 until February 2021, but had to be ended before its planned six-month period because of works on Walnut Bridge.

Road sign from the first trial period

There was then a repeat of the trial closure from May 2022 until November 30, 2022.

In slides shown at the meeting, Dr Donnelly included quotes from residents against the one-way system, one of which read: “Took 1 hour and 55 minutes to drive two miles into town to pick up my son a few weeks ago.”

Others said that the one-way system “discriminated” against people living in Stoughton and Bellfields, or “anywhere north of the A3” and there was “no other practical way” to get to the station for those with limited mobility due to a lack of bus access.

Cllr Matt Furniss

The petition read: “The council’s method of evaluation is seriously flawed and biased towards gathering opinions of those living in the Walnut Tree Close area, which largely consists of student flats – and not the working population of Guildford who need to commute via the train station. (And who are trying to use the train as a means of sustainable travel).

“Please help stop this poorly thought out and punitive system.”

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford) said he walked the route “frequently” and said the environment was “much more pleasant” than when the street was two-way.

He approved the officers’ recommendation to make the change to the road permanent.

A webcast of the council meeting can be seen here.

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Responses to Walnut Tree Close One-way System to Become Permanent

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    March 28, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    Time Burpham to Anderson glass merchant walnut tree close 35 minutes
    Time Anderson to Burpham 10 minutes.

    Yep, that one way certainly reduces pollution and congestion!

  2. Frank Emery Reply

    March 28, 2023 at 6:52 pm

    This decision is absolutely disgraceful, no proper consultation, flawed data! I thought Guildford traffic issues should be decided by Guildford people? Obviously not.

    What else can be done to reverse this decision?

  3. Mike Forster Reply

    March 28, 2023 at 7:16 pm

    Seems like another flawed consultation process yet again involving Surrey Highways. Let’s hope that a proper consultation process is initiated with a full set of views aired, analysed and a considered opinion forthcoming. Guildford is not just about cyclists.

  4. Wayne Smith Reply

    March 28, 2023 at 8:40 pm

    Did anyone really expect there to be any other outcome?

    What is not mentioned in the above report but is quoted by Cllr Furniss in the webcast, is that SCC claim that data shows no detrimental impact to traffic or air quality arising from the trial.

    In light of their spurious data claims regarding the proposed London Road cycle lane scheme perhaps Cllr Furniss would like to provide the data to The Guildford Dragon so that we may all see it.

    Oh, I forgot, he doesn’t engage with The Dragon!

  5. Mark Stamp Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 12:47 am

    Good to see but I would suspect cyclists would also like a better road surface but this is hard to achieve when there are roadworks of one form or another along there every few weeks.

  6. Stuart Barnes Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 8:37 am

    This decision is disgraceful. So much for democracy.

    Is there any reason for voting any more?

  7. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 10:41 am

    Cllr Furniss seems determined to gridlock Guildford for his own glorification.

  8. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    What is really needed is a new east-west route to connect Woodbridge Road with Guildford Park Road.

    SCC and GBC should give this serious consideration.

    Affordable housing could be built on both sides of this route and contribution from the developers would help to finance the building of the route.

    Another connection between Walnut Tree Close (WTC) and Mary Road is required over the river on a one-way bridge so that WTC traffic could be routed to connect with this east-west route.

    WTC could be made one-way southbound from the A25 and one-way northbound to this bridge from Station View junction. Such an arrangement would allow access to WTC businesses from the A25 and to both railway station entrances without having to use the gyratory. It would be possible to incorporate cycle lanes in WTC in the freed-up road space.

    WTC cycle lanes could also connect with Sustainable Movement Corridor coming through Yorkies Footbridge making the route all the way from Onslow village to the town centre.

    Removal of most of the east-west traffic from the gyratory would enable the regeneration of the riversides by closing Friary Bridge to traffic and re-aligning the southbound lanes away from the river and re-opening Town Bridge.

    All the above is a holistic approach to reducing congestion, improving traffic flow and improving pedestrian and cycle routes. Sketches showing the outline designs could be found by searching for “keep and share new solutions to gfd traffic revised 13 June”.

  9. Alec Clark Reply

    March 29, 2023 at 11:50 pm

    As a Stoughton resident I don’t feel discriminated against at all. It’s a mere 10 minutes cycle from Stoughton to the station and this one way system makes a potentially dangerous narrow and winding stretch of the route so much safer and therefore more accessible.

    Making non-car journeys safer and quicker benefits everyone. Less congestion on the roads, less pollution in the air. Here’s hoping the London Road scheme gets the go ahead soon.

  10. Valerie Thompson Reply

    March 30, 2023 at 9:30 am

    Total idiocy. Now there will be just one route through gridlocked Guildford to the A281 and A3100. All to please the cyclists!

    • Bob Andrews Reply

      April 17, 2023 at 11:51 am

      It doesn’t please cyclists. I am one, and I put in an objection.

      The road is so poorly maintained that it’s far better to use the towpath. It goes from nowhere to nowhere. It causes gridlock we have to deal with elsewhere. It raises even more anti-cycle sentiment.

      Having done this, the county council will do nothing else for decades to “support” cycling. So, don’t lay this farce at the door of cyclists; this is an idiot bit of tokenism scheme of Cllr Furniss’. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      April 19, 2023 at 1:43 pm

      This change will allow more people to cycle who are currently put off by roads totally congested with motorised traffic, many of which are being driven for short journey’s which could be walked or cycled instead. It’s long overdue that we encourage more people to walk or cycle and if that means taking road space from drivers, so be it.

  11. Michael Quittenton Reply

    March 30, 2023 at 10:37 am

    This decision is totally ridiculous. This will bring all the traffic from North Guildford heading for the railway system, into an already over-subscribed one-way system, increasing traffic on other roads and pollution.

    What is SCC Cllr Matt Furniss [Con, Shalford, Cabinet Member for Transport] thinking about? This goes against everything the rest of the world is trying to achieve.

  12. Melanie Wilde Reply

    March 30, 2023 at 12:27 pm

    What else do you expect from Surrey County Council? They are utterly hopeless and Matt Furniss seems to have gone into politics for reasons other than representing local residents’ views. A stupid decision based on incomplete and deliberately misleading data.

  13. Mike Garrett Reply

    March 30, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    I’m guessing that SCC Cllr Matt Furniss is looking at his shoes when he reaches either end of Walnut Tree Close on his “frequent walks”, otherwise he would be fully aware of the gridlock and frustration that this road closure has caused.

    More flawed policy based on dubious data. Disgraceful.

    • Andrew Calladine Reply

      April 19, 2023 at 1:40 pm

      SCC based its decision on real data and the opinions of local residents. Unlike Mike Garratt who is unable to point to any evidence that this change has caused additional congestion on neighbouring roads.

  14. Anjum Ahmed Reply

    April 17, 2023 at 7:52 pm

    I worked in offices in Walnut Tree Road for five years and was consulted in person about this a number of years ago. I support this decision.

    The road could barely support two-way motor traffic in the first place: cars regularly mount the narrow footpaths, for example. A lot of this road has been one lane for a long time anyway, because of on-street parking.

    Next, I would like to see the road resurfaced and footpaths widened.

  15. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 19, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Andrew Calladine is a young, fit cyclist, obviously, as he has no consideration in his comments for those unable to walk far, let alone cycle. Walnut Tree Close was a useful way to transit across Guildford.

    See my earlier comments that there is now just one route, Woodbridge Road, to drive between communities on either side of Guildford.

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