A THREE-phase plan for sorting out Farnham town centre’s traffic woes is to go out to public consultation this summer – including plans to permanently widen pavements, reverse sections of the one-way system, and potentially a new link road from Castle Hill to the Upper Hart car park.
Detailed plans are yet to be revealed in public – with Farnham Town Council discussing Surrey County Council’s “sifted options paper” in a behind-closed-doors session at the end of last Thursday’s full council meeting.
But councillors did first engage in a broad debate of the proposals, as revealed shortly before the meeting by town council leader John Neale following a meeting with Surrey’s Farnham Infrastructure Programme team a day earlier.
The three-phase plan has been formulated after last year’s consultation on Farnham’s ‘optimised infrastructure plan’, with Surrey currently modelling its proposals before revealing them in public.
- Phase one is believed to relate to pavement improvements in Castle Street and Downing Street – including making permanent the current widened pavements in the latter.
- Phase two will extend the pavement improvements to The Borough, as well as a “reconfiguration of the gyratory [one-way] system”.
- Phase three is the long-mooted wider pedestrianisation scheme, with traffic to be barred from parts of the town centre with the exception of buses and “some other vehicles”.
The Herald also understands that, thanks in part to the campaigning of town councillors in north Farnham, a new link road connecting Castle Hill to Upper Hart car park has not been ruled out and is among the schemes currently being modelled.
This was initially proposed by town planner Jim Duffy in a presentation to the Farnham Society in 2018, who proposed reinstating an historic road link between Castle Hill and the Hart – effectively re-routing the A287 to facilitate a “world class” pedestrianised town square in Castle Street and allowing the whole of The Borough to become a “strong pedestrian-priority zone”.
Other ideas proposed by Jim Duffy in 2018 – some of which have already been implemented – included:
- Wider pavements and reduced lanes in the town centre, as well as raised table crossing points and new traffic lights in The Borough.
- A reversal of the one-way system in The Borough between the Castle Street and Downing Street junctions, to allow easier access from the north to the Hart car parks, and between lower Downing Street and Union Road to allow two-way access to the Waggon Yard and Central car parks.
- A new direct Firgrove Hill to A31 link road at Hickleys Corner, made possibly by re-routing Approach Road to undercut The Mulberry pub and open directly onto the A31 traffic lights instead of Station Hill. This has since been identified by Farnham Town Council as preferable to a costly underpass at Hickleys Corner, as proposed by Surrey County Council.
- Lastly, Mr Duffy proposed a Wrecclesham bypass, redirecting heavy traffic away from the village centre and reducing the risk of repeated railway bridge strikes on the A325 – as witnessed last week.
South West Surrey MP, Jeremy Hunt also spoke at the 2018 Farnham Society meeting – and was said to have gained the backing of both the-then Farnham Town Council leader Carole Cockburn and then-opposition Farnham Residents councillor Andy MacLeod.
Mr Hunt and Cllr MacLeod, whose party is now in control of Farnham Town Council, are now driving forward the Farnham Infrastructure Programme as members of Surrey County Council’s ‘Farnham Board’.
But responding to Cllr MacLeod’s announcement of Surrey’s three-phase plan at last Thursday’s town council meeting, the now-opposition Tory Cllr Cockburn repeated her criticism of the Infrastructure Plan team for failing to listen to residents’ wishes.
She said: “The town council has not been fully informed of anything on this project from the start.
“When are we going to have a proper consultation, to give us a clue of what the town actually wants?
“People who could barely point Farnham out on a map are making decisions about the future of our town, and I’m sick of waiting for this ‘magic briefing’ when all will become clear.”