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.
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