Comment on the new infrastructure plan for Farnham - FEBRUARY 18th 2021
People in Farnham can now comment on a proposed plan to transform travel in and around the town.
A virtual exhibition and questionnaire is now live. It highlights the background to the new infrastructure plan, and what is being considered for the town centre, North Farnham, South Farnham and the A31 corridor. There are also some town-wide proposals.
People who live, work, travel or study in the town can comment on the suggestions until Sunday 14 March. Please comment by visiting www.bit.ly/farnhaminfrastructure, calling 01252 712667 for a printed summary and questionnaire, or joining an upcoming Local Liaison Forum meeting.
The draft infrastructure plan is the latest milestone in the Farnham Infrastructure Programme, a partnership between Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council, Farnham Town Council and Jeremy Hunt MP.
Jeremy Hunt MP said: No one is more pleased than me that we have got to this stage with the Farnham Infrastructure plan - it's great news for the town. Let’s do our best for Farnham and get as many people as possible completing this questionnaire and commenting - this is your chance to have your say.”
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “This is our opportunity to be ambitious and ensure Farnham remains a thriving community for future generations. That’s why it’s important we hear from people in the town before we start on the detailed plans. Please share your views and help us to transform Farnham.”
Local Liaison Forum meetings are continuing to be held online due to social distancing restrictions. Zoom meetings are being held on Thursday 4 March at 6.30pm, and on Monday 8 March at 6.30pm. There will also be a Facebook Live on Wednesday 10 March from 12.30-1.30pm. To register your interest go to www.farnham.gov.uk/llf
John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council, said: “People who have attended previous Local Liaison Forums will see that their comments have helped to shape the content of the infrastructure plan. The forums are an effective way for people to have their say and I hope even more people will take the opportunity to attend the forthcoming meetings.”
Helping people in Farnham to use alternatives to the car is a key theme, with proposals to improve pathways for walking and cycling, and to review public transport. Having fewer cars driving around the town will instantly reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Other proposals include:
- Changes to the town centre road layout, with major improvements to the pedestrian experience
- Reviewing town centre car parks, including considering new ‘park and ride’ or ‘park and stride’ sites
- Detailed studies on Wrecclesham, a western bypass and the A31 corridor
- Improving connections between South Farnham and the railway station to the town centre
John Ward, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “This is an opportunity for the people of Farnham to scrutinise and comment on our current proposals. We’ve taken on board feedback about what are the key issues and what needs to be done, and now we need to be reassured that you feel these proposals are the right way forward to unleash the potential of our town.”
Consulting on the infrastructure plan follows last year’s consultation on the vision for the programme. Since then, work has started to restrict HGV movements through the town, and consideration of lowering speed limits to 20mph and reclassifying roads is already underway. At its cabinet meeting last month, Surrey County Council agreed £2.5 million in funding to deliver these ‘quick wins’ and for further feasibility studies.
Earlier news stories:
The new infrastructure plan is the next stage in the Farnham Infrastructure Programme’s work to tackle long standing infrastructure issues. It builds on the vision statement which local people commented on last year, and suggests ways to change how people travel around the town.
Having a fit for purpose transport network means the town can make the most of its position in the Surrey countryside, its status as a world craft town, and the historic nature of the town centre. The plan considers changes that can be made in the shorter term, such as town centre improvements, alongside longer-term major infrastructure changes.
The plan is based on a range of information sources, including feedback on the vision and from local liaison forums. Previous Farnham transport studies have also been reviewed along with national transport policies and local policies – including the local and community plans, and climate change strategies.
The Farnham Board is made up of councillors representing Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, alongside local MP Jeremy Hunt. At the January meeting, members also discussed progress on quick wins including imposing new HGV restrictions, introducing 20mph speed limits and the possible reclassification of A roads in the town centre.
Jeremy Hunt MP 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.”
Proposals in the plan
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, including Hale, Upper Hale, Heath End, Weybourne and Badshot Lea
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, including Wrecclesham; Rowledge, Boundstone, Shortheath, Lower Bourne and Compton
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.
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 Hickley’s Corner and will be integrated with other suggestions in the infrastructure plan
John Ward, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “I’m encouraged by the range of proposals the Farnham Board has developed, which are well thought through and complementary. 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. I’m really pleased by how the partners are working together and their shared commitment to unleashing the potential of our town.”
Councillor John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council, said: “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 that 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 the best way for us to make sure that we get the best solutions, both from the technical and the community points of view.
“I think we all have to appreciate that the major road solutions will take time to clarify, however I am hoping that we can make rapid progress on the town centre options, since everyone in Farnham is looking forward to all round improvements that will brighten up the centre and make our visits there more enjoyable.”
HGV restrictions to be discussed by Surrey County Council’s cabinet
The programme will also be discussed at a meeting of Surrey County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday 26 January.
Councillors will be asked to agree the next steps 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. They will also be asked to provide £2.5 million of funding to deliver the programme’s ‘quick wins’ project and for ongoing feasibility studies.
It is hoped the HGV restrictions will be in place by the summer.
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, said: “At the last Farnham Board all the partners agreed to progress an HGV restriction to prevent lorries diverting through the town. I’m pleased that the county council’s cabinet, as the local highways authority, is getting the legal process underway.
“Making the money available to start delivering the transformation of travel and transport in Farnham will show 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 wellbeing and making the most of Farnham’s unique environment.”
For more information about the programme, visit surreycc.gov.uk/farnhamprogramme
Earlier news stories:
First opportunity to ask questions about the Farnham Infrastructure Programme
People who live, work, study or travel around Farnham will have their first chance next week to ask questions on proposals to cut congestion and improve air quality in and around the town.
The Farnham Infrastructure Programme’s Local Liaison Forum is holding a Zoom webinar on Wednesday 5 August at 6pm. People who are interested in the programme can watch and submit questions. The webinar will be jointly chaired by local councillors representing Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council.
The programme is made up of four proposed projects which together would improve how people live and travel in and around Farnham. They will look at the town centre, Hickley’s Corner and Wrecclesham village.
There will be a public consultation later this year to shape a vision statement for the programme.
Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council and Chairman of the Farnham Board, said: “This programme will only be a success if we’re tackling the right issues and coming up with the right solutions. That is why we’re starting to talk to the Farnham community now before a wider consultation later this year – we really want to hear your views.”
John Ward, Leader of Waverley Borough Council, said: “The Farnham Infrastructure Programme is the key for ensuring we have a healthy local economy and a thriving town centre. To achieve this, we need a shared vision so please do attend the webinar and have your say on how we can create a town that is fit for the future.”
John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council, said: “This meeting marks the beginning of a new chapter for Farnham. The forum is an opportunity for residents to tell us from the comfort of their homes what they think we should be doing to revitalise and connect the town centre and surrounding communities.”
Jeremy Hunt MP said: "This is real progress and a big step forward in this ambitious project for Farnham to make the improvements so many of us have been crying out for. I encourage as many people as possible who live locally to get involved - this is your chance to have your say."
The programme’s four proposed projects
The programme contains a series of proposed projects which the councils believe are key to making the transport improvements Farnham needs:
- Short- and medium-term improvements: this includes considering lowering speed limits in the town centre and rerouting HGVs.
- Town centre infrastructure: this will include considering pedestrianisation, encouraging walking and cycling, reducing through traffic and supporting better connections between different parts of the town centre.
- A31 Hickley’s Corner: looking at ways to reduce congestion and queuing, preventing the need for vehicles to divert through the town, greatly improving the connections in Farnham between north and south of the A31 and improving safety for all road users.
- A325 Wrecclesham Relief Road: investigating solutions to the high traffic levels through Wrecclesham village, including improving road safety and preventing HGVs striking the railway bridge.
The Local Liaison Forum meeting via Zoom
Due to social distancing restrictions, the Local Liaison Forum is being held as a Zoom webinar which can be accessed online or by phone. It will be run in a way that allows the chairs to answer as many questions from the public as possible.
- You will only be able to see the joint chairs, the presenters and any documents that they share. As is normal in this type of webinar, members of the public will be muted, and their cameras will be off. Your name will not be visible to other members of the public unless you ask a question.
- Questions can only be submitted through the question and answer (Q&A) box, which can be found in the toolbar at the bottom of the Zoom screen. Questions may be answered in writing through that box or verbally on the call. If you are asked to read out your question, your name will be made public.
- It may not be possible to answer all questions, but if this is the case, they will all be noted and will inform a set of frequently asked questions.
- The webinar will be recorded and will be available to view afterwards.
- This is the first opportunity for people to be informed about the detail of the programme. There will be further consultations later this year, with members of the public taking part more directly in the discussions. There will also be opportunities for people who are not online to participate.
A letter to the Farnham Herald from Jeremy Hunt MP
Whatever views Farnham residents have on the town centre, there is an overwhelming consensus that things need to change – and not just to make it more pedestrian and family-friendly but also to deal with the appalling pollution.
Farnham is a wonderful town steeped in history with some striking, varied architecture and beautiful countryside. So it is a terrible tragedy we compromise those huge assets by not tackling the town centre traffic which stands in the way of it being one of the most stunning towns in the South East.
So, what to do? Make improvements, of course…but trying to do this within the constraints of historically important buildings whilst meeting the demands of a modern, forward thinking, and growing population is never going to be easy – not to mention the costs associated with major development.
I have been working for some time with Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council, Farnham Town Council, The Farnham Society, the Chamber of Commerce and two respected local architects on transforming Farnham. Transforming it into a cleaner, safer place that we all want to live, visit and work – a destination town with a varied, eclectic, economic and cultural mix of people and organisations.
All takes time and money, and as a group, we are exploring a range of ideas and solutions. Some of these were presented to the Farnham Society at their Annual General Meeting last month where the concepts we have were well received. Of course there will be varying opinions and views, and nothing has been agreed or finalised. But I think it is fair to say there was a genuine feeling of positivity from the vast majority of Farnham Society members present although of course lots of details remain to be worked out.
I have arranged further meetings with the Leaders of Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council, the Enterprise M3 LEP (which drives the economic growth of the area by working with businesses, key delivery partners and central government) and also leading property developers Berkeley Homes and Crest Nicholson. These important fact finding discussions will further enable us, as a group, to shape and agree the best approach and work out where funding could come from.
Once, and only once, a consensus of opinion is gathered, will further modelling and planning be done to enable a professional, proper, public consultation for residents. This consultation will be led by Farnham Town Council and will present to residents the vision and final ideas for the town. Anyone directly affected by the proposal will, of course, be contacted in the proper and appropriate way at the proper time.
But we will only make progress in securing funding for any transformation if we are united as a town. So now is the period to build that consensus, using our excellent Neighbourhood Plan as the foundation.
Jeremy wants Farnham to be greener and more family friendly. Ever since he became the candidate for South West Surrey he has campaigned for the town centre to be pedestrianised. He has worked with local architects on a pedestrianisation plan for the town and worked closely with local Councillors and campaigners on ways to improve the town centre. In June 2014 he successfully mounted a campaign for a shared space scheme with part time pedestrianisation via a referendum launched by the South West Surrey Conservatives.
Since then, considerable work and planning has been undertaken. Jeremy has chaired a number of meetings and recently established a Group of County Councillors, Town Councillors, Leading local Architects and the Farnham Society. This new Group is working together, with a shared voice and common goal to improve Farnham Town centre.
The goal: to improve and enhance Farnham town which will improve traffic congestion and reduce high pollution levels. It will make Farnham a more desirable place to live, work and visit.
The latest news, updates, announcements and videos will be uploaded here - please visit again....