When we set up the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, we knew there was a lot needed to improve the town’s long-standing transport issues.
There will never be a single solution that meets the passionate and long-held beliefs of those who, for example, would like to pedestrianise the town, want dedicated cycle lanes or want to drive through the town centre without delay. So the programme team has been looking for the best balance of competing views and priorities.
At the Farnham Board a few weeks ago, the team highlighted the pros and cons of the town centre proposals which we consulted on last year. As highlighted in the Herald last week, the latest detailed modelling is showing that car journey times through the town centre will increase at the evening peak. But drivers aren’t the only people in the town centre, so there’s a wider context which needs to be considered.
We’re widening pavements around the town centre to give a better sense of place and an improved experience for pedestrians. This will help maintain the economic vitality of the town. We’ve seen evidence from other towns that creating spaces for people not vehicles increases footfall and sales, and leads to empty retail units being filled.
Cllr Catherine Powell discussed the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) in last week’s paper. Farnham has its own LCWIP to tackle its specific situation and is designed to help people get out of their cars and walk or cycle when they can – not just to reduce congestion but to tackle climate change. I also mentioned at the board that on-demand bus services are coming to Waverley this autumn. Other towns have also noticed that people who walk or cycle to go shopping spend more money than those who travel by car.
It’s important to consider the wider package of what we’re looking at in Farnham. A town centre which meets modern needs while celebrating its heritage. Wider pavements for pedestrians to support a vibrant local economy. Walking, cycling and public transport improvements to get cars off the road and help the environment.
I believe that represents a positive way forward for Farnham. That’s why the county council’s cabinet this week is set to agree the funding for the town centre improvements. The momentum is with us – let’s keep working together to make it happen.
Haslemere's The Edge – shut until September
The county council is sorry for the disruption to users of The Edge leisure centre in Haslemere (pictured), which will be closing its doors to public use tomorrow.
Following Waverley Borough Council’s decision to terminate its lease on The Edge, the county council has been in discussions with Waverley and Weydon Multi Academy Trust to explore how to take this issue forward.
Our priority is to ensure that Woolmer Hill School maintains uninterrupted access to The Edge’s facilities, but we remain committed to ensuring continued community use of this facility.
Leisure centres are the responsibility of district and borough councils. Therefore Surrey County Council does not have any partners or systems that would enable us to continue the operation of The Edge.
That’s why we’ve had to advise users of The Edge to seek alternative locations – such as Haslemere Leisure Centre.
We are, however, working with Waverley on options that may enable community use again from early September.
By Tim Oliver
Surrey County Council leader
Conservative councillor for Elmbridge