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Yet Another Walnut Tree Close Closure As One-way Trial Repeated

Published on: 4 May, 2022
Updated on: 4 May, 2022

By Martin Giles

Walnut Tree Close is going to close once again to two-way traffic as a trial is repeated to assess the impact of a permanent closure.

The trial will commence on May 29 and is set to last for about six months. During the trial the road will be closed to southbound traffic heading towards the gyratory between Wey Corner and the Royal Mail delivery Office.

Results of a previous trial in 2020 are regarded as unreliable because they were affected by reduced and atypical traffic patterns during periods of pandemic lockdown.

One resident commented: “Apparently traffic is back to pre-covid levels, although I’m not convinced. I live on the road, we had a flyer yesterday and signage has gone up on the road noting it’s going to happen.

“I don’t commute down the road but traffic isn’t like I remember from about three years ago, unless Surrey County Council thinks this is the ‘new normal’ for traffic.”

Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford), SCC’s Cabinet member for Transport, did not respond directly to questions posed by The Dragon but a spokesperson for SCC said: “We are trialling this one-way system because the volumes of passing through traffic have increased significantly in recent years, with vehicles currently using Walnut Tree Close as a through-road between the A25 and the gyratory, causing large amounts of congestion.

“We are aiming to make the road quieter and safer by putting this traffic restriction in place. This should help to reduce delays on the road, particularly during peak hours, and to avoid congestion around Guildford gyratory whilst providing a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

“We appreciate any changes can lead to some short-term disruption, but we will keep this under constant review and will assess the impact before making any decisions on whether to make the one-way system on Walnut Tree Close permanent.

A SCC leaflet distributed to local residents gives details of the new trial.

The Dragon asked Angela Goodwin the Lib Dem county councillor for Guildford South West,  which includes Walnut Tree Close, about the trial closure.

Cllr Angela Goodwin.

Do you support the repeat trial?

The timing of this trial continues to be challenging; however, I do agree that it is important to gather reliable data on traffic movements as well as air pollution levels. Walnut Tree Close (WTC) has for some time experienced a huge amount of disruption including building works (new student accommodation), the station redevelopment (due to be completed circa 2026), the new Walnut Tree bridge and latterly the new pedestrian road table.

All of these works have been disruptive to residents and businesses in this area. Had the trial been introduced shortly after the residents’ petition in 2013 it might have been positively received by more people across Guildford, and borough ward councillors.

Do you think the closure of WTC to through traffic is a good idea?

I personally don’t think closing WTC to through-traffic will work in its entirety. Both pedestrians and cyclists will, of course, benefit from this safer route; however, Guildford’s road system leading in and out of its town centre is complex and blocking off one road will only move traffic and air pollution to other roads. It is not practical to look at this in isolation.

This is a one-way trial (not a full closure) that allows vehicles to travel northbound as usual (ie direction Guildford station to Ladymead). The southbound road (ie direction Woodbridge Meadows towards the station and town centre) will be closed to all vehicles at Woodbridge Meadows.  Diversion signs will be in place directing drivers along Woodbridge Road or Stoke Road etc.

Another page of the leaflet gives information on how those affected can keep up to date.

Why was the original trial not stopped as soon as it was apparent that traffic levels were, because of Covid restrictions, atypical?

The original trial ran from November 20 2020 to February 8 2021. When it was introduced SCC were not aware of the government’s impending lockdown in early January 2021 so the data gleaned during this period was not a true reflection of the typical traffic movement / volume in this area. SCC took the decision to continue the trial until February 8 and to record the limited data during this period.

Why has the trial period been extended from three to six months?

SCC’s original plan was to run the trial for more than three months. However, the pandemic and various works along Walnut Tree Close made it difficult to slot it in.

For this new trial, SCC wanted to make sure students – including those who live in Walnut Tree Close and use the road to walk to/from the university campus into town – could include their feedback. The timing would allow those finishing their current course and those starting up in the new academic year to take part if they so wish.

I do encourage anyone who wishes to feed back their experience to SCC. The dedicated email is: walnuttreeclose.trial@surreycc.gov.uk

More information can be found on the SCC website, and anyone can sign up to receive email updates about this trial: Walnut Tree Close, Guildford – One way system – Surrey County Council (surreycc.gov.uk)

 

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test 13 Responses to Yet Another Walnut Tree Close Closure As One-way Trial Repeated

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 4, 2022 at 3:58 pm

    Let’s hope that before the trial starts, the road is resurfaced from the viaduct to the junction with Bridge Street. It’s so rough and bumpy due to inadequate repairs by utility companies that it is most certainly not a cycle friendly route as it stands. Frankly it’s a disgrace.

  2. Mike Davis Reply

    May 4, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    SCC have got this totally wrong. I’m surprised that even the Liberal Democrats are agreeing to it. Madness.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    May 4, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    Even the Green Party in London has accepted that car removal in some streets is causing more congestion and pollution elsewhere.

    It is easy to design the “right thing” when nothing exits. When trying to redesign an existing road system a wholesale study of real journeys for four five six square miles is essential. Adjusting one road or believing and following an unproven theory is the same folly of the “pop up villiage”.

  4. Nick Holloway Reply

    May 4, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    This will cause chaos on an already overloaded traffic system.

    The A3 traffic from Farnham direction will get off one junction earlier at Tesco’s and come into Guildford from the university end.

    The rest will come in via the Ladymead/ Woodbridge Road route and block up the traffic light junction.

    The more routes inwards the smaller the problem, so stopping one will cause more congestion, not ease it.

  5. Frank Emery Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 9:20 am

    If a trial doesn’t give you the results you want then let’s have more of them until they do!

  6. John Simpson Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 9:53 am

    All that this will achieve is to put more pressure on the gyratory system. Better to give the residents of Walnut Tree Close parking spaces at the station so that traffic can pass in both directions easily.

  7. Dave Murray Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 11:13 am

    I hope this stays.

    I cycle to the station daily and found the last test (be it only short), successful. Overall the road felt quieter and safer to cycle.

    The problem remains drivers trying to overtake at dangerous locations and going around bends at speed.

  8. A J Ferenczy Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    As Mr Middleton correctly notes, the road surface there is a total and utter disgrace, and not fit for cycle traffic at all. Most who value their fillings much prefer the towpath running parallel, which, though narrow with poor sight-lines and shared use, is at least navigable safely.

  9. Stuart Ross Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    I agree with Dave Murray – I also hope this stays and it is clear the road cannot handle the amount of traffic currently using it.

    A very positive step.

  10. Joe Wilde Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    I agree with Dave Murray and Stuart Ross. I commute by bike and ride into Guildford on a daily basis. When the first trial was in place, and during the various recent closures, Walnut Tree Close was pleasant to ride along. More people in Guildford cycling can help reduce the numbers of cars and traffic others are complaining about and improve air quality, and to get more people cycling bold moves like this are necessary.

    I am not a cycling enthusiast, I don’t wear lycra, I just use a bike to get to work. I also have a car.

  11. Dave Murray Reply

    May 5, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    In response to Mr Middleton, yes the road does need to be resurfaced, but cycling to the station via the towpath is not practical. Especially in the winter.

    The road is too narrow for the amount of traffic currently with cars parked on the road, either ban road parking to allow proper two-way traffic or continue the testing as a single road for the safety of all users.

  12. Paul Robinson Reply

    May 6, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    “Results of a previous trial in 2020 are regarded as unreliable because they were affected by reduced and atypical traffic patterns during periods of pandemic lockdown.”

    It was highlighted that this would be the case to Cllr Matt Furniss before the last trial by a former highways engineer but the advice was ignored. Cllr Furniss knew better.

  13. Frank Phillipson Reply

    May 7, 2022 at 12:51 pm

    SCC say the reason for the trial is “because the volumes of passing through traffic have increased significantly in recent years, with vehicles currently using Walnut Tree Close as a through-road between the A25 and the gyratory, causing large amounts of congestion”.

    Where are the vehicle/traffic figures that prove there has been a significant increase? It seems to me that this increase is more an account of perception rather than fact.

    It is laughable and an indication of a lack of local knowledge that SCC think that WTC has not been used as a through route in the past when it was specifically extended for that very purpose.

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