And the ball is already rolling on one “quick win” for the town, with Surrey County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday signing off £2.5 million to deliver an HGV ban in the town centre.
Other projects the board has agreed to send out to consultation, alongside their ‘notional’ costings, include a £115m upgrade of Hickleys Corner and a £100m ‘relief road’ for Wrecclesham.
A further £18m is projected for the town centre, where plans include a 20mph speed limit and the possible reclassification of A roads.
Business cases are yet to be developed, and funding is still to be secured for the longer-term projects.
But the costed proposals represent a huge leap forward for the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, which was born out of the first ever Farnham Pollution Summit in October 2019, co-hosted by MP Jeremy Hunt and the Herald.
Mr Hunt, who has written his weekly column on the subject, said: “Farnham is one of our most beautiful towns in England – it’s been blighted by pollution and traffic congestion for too long. This ambitious plan is a long time in the making but I am truly delighted we now have one proposal which can be shared, discussed and hopefully be implemented for the sake of the town and the people who live and work here.”
Previous Farnham transport studies have also been reviewed along with national transport policies and local policies – including the Farnham Neighbourhood Plans, and climate change strategies.
Proposals in the plan are listed as follows:
* Town centre
A new town-centre strategy is proposed, which includes major improvements to walking and cycling and new public transport hubs. Changes to the town-centre road layout will be examined in detail, with the intention of developing options for a pedestrian zone.
Suggestions also include enhancing the space at the bottom of Castle Street, opening Union Road and South Street to two-way traffic, and reviewing car parking.
There’s also a proposal to create a new link from Castle Hill to the Upper Hart car park. This could be supported by new park-and-ride or park- and-stride car parks, better management of town-centre car parking and improved control of deliveries.
* North Farnham
In North Farnham, schemes will be progressed to improve walking and cycling, including cycle superhighways through Badshot Lea and Weybourne.
Options will be considered for improved bus services.
An initial assessment on the potential benefits of a western bypass will focus on reducing through traffic.
Quick wins will tackle the impacts of HGV and speeding traffic through the area.
* South Farnham
For Wrecclesham, there will be a focus on traffic management measures including investigating the benefits of a bypass, as well as new bus routes.
Schemes will be progressed for improved walking and cycling, including improvements near the station and crossing the A31.
Quick wins will tackle the impacts of speeding traffic in the area, and enhanced signage to further reduce the likelihood of bridge strikes at the Wrecclesham railway bridge.
* A31 corridor
More detailed studies are needed to assess the A31 corridor and develop a programme of improvements between the Coxbridge, and Shepherd and Flock roundabouts.
This will include a comprehensive solution to address the challenges at Hickleys Corner and will be integrated with other suggestions in the infrastructure plan.
In addition, funding for a proposed 7.5 tonne weight limit which will restrict HGVs from diverting through the town via Castle Street, Folly Hill and Upper Hale Road was agreed by Surrey’s cabinet on Tuesday (see Page 5).
John Ward, leader of Waverley Borough Council, praised the proposals as “well thought through and complementary”, adding the holistic approach taken by the programme is the best route to “unleashing the potential of our town”.
He said: “Farnham has a number of complex and interrelated issues, and we are not going to build a transport solution fit for the future by simply trying to tackle a few of our problems in isolation.
“While there are measures that will have immediate benefits for residents, such as the reduction in HGVs and lower speed limits in the town centre, many of the proposals are major infrastructure schemes, which take time to plan, secure funding for, and deliver.
“Throughout this process we will continue to consult with residents to ensure the proposals meet the future needs of our community.”
Councillor John Neale, leader of Farnham Town Council, added: “I want to thank all those who have put together the infrastructure plan, especially recognising the inputs from many people in Farnham who have attended the liaison forums. It is clear this community input forms part of the plan to date, and we will soon be embarking on another round of consultations on the many options listed.
“This is a huge and lengthy task, but it is the best way for us to make sure we get the best solutions, both from the technical and the community points of view.”
Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said his cabinet’s approval of £2.5m to get the HGV ban legal process under way “shows our commitment to making this a reality”.
“I hope we can continue working with people in Farnham to transform the community together, tackling the causes of climate change, improving our health and well-being and making the most of Farnham’s unique environment.”
For more information, visit surreycc.gov.uk/farnhamprogramme