Agenda item

Highway and Transport Schemes Critical to Local Plan Delivery


Having received a report regarding a priority list of highway and transport schemes critical to the delivery of the Guildford Borough Local Plan at its meeting held on 20 July 2021, the Executive deferred consideration of the report to its next meeting, taking place on 24 August 2021, to enable the matter to be considered by the Strategy and Resources Executive Advisory Board (EAB) in the interim.


Accordingly, the EAB considered the report at its meeting held on 9 August 2021.  As part of his presentation of the report, the Transport Planner (Consultant) highlighted the following five highway and transport schemes, in no particular order of importance, that were likely to be critical priorities to enable the Local Plan to maintain its housing trajectory and remain up to date.  The EAB was invited to support the five priority schemes in principle.


·             SRN2 - M25 Junction 10/A3 Wisley Interchange ‘Road Investment Strategy’ scheme.

·             NR2 and NR3 - New railway stations at Guildford West (Park Barn) and Guildford East (Merrow).

·             SMC 1-6 - Sustainable Movement Corridor.

·             SRN7 and SRN8 - A3 northbound on and off slip roads at A247 Clandon Road (Burnt Common).

·             LRN19 – New road bridge and footbridge scheme to enable level crossing closure on A323 Guildford Road adjacent to Ash railway station.


The following points arose from related questions, comments and discussion:


1.           Although there was a long list of infrastructure projects attached to the Local Plan, many of which would be delivered by developers, the five priority schemes had been selected as they had been identified as requiring intervention at a high level by the Council and its strategic partners to facilitate implementation.

2.           In terms of the proposed new railway stations at Guildford West and Guildford East, a councillor expressed the view that the Guildford West station should be prioritised as it would serve more commuters, being in the vicinity of any new development at Blackwell Farm, the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the Guildford Business Park, thereby offering greater viability and value for money than the Guildford East station.  In response, the Strategic Services Director advised that both stations were important for different reasons and Guildford East station formed part of planning policy for the related site and the developer was obliged to make land available for the station and contribute towards its cost.  Guildford West station was included in the Capital Programme and the Council would shortly be invited to determine whether it wished to release further funding to enable the scheme to progress to the next GRIP stage.

3.           Concerns were expressed in relation to the level of engagement with highway partners and a perceived lack of project modelling, valid cost estimates, availability of funding, other infrastructure to support the schemes and related impacts on local road networks.  It was confirmed that the Council was holding discussions with representatives of Surrey County Council (SCC) as the local highway authority, Highways England (HE), the Department of Transport and Network Rail to progress the schemes.  The priority schemes had been informally shared with colleagues at SCC who were broadly in agreement with them and favoured initiatives such as the railway stations and the sustainable movement corridor as they would reduce car use.  Securing and demonstrating an alignment of priorities between this Council, SCC and other parties offered the best opportunity to access funding from strategic partners.  Although all of the priority schemes had been reviewed as part of the Local Plan and benefited from an evidence base, detailed modelling would not be undertaken until the schemes had received final approval to proceed.

4.           The review of the Local Plan was continuing and would not be negated by the five priority schemes.

5.           Following the deletion of the previous A3 road widening scheme from the Government’s Road Investment Strategy 2 programme, the Council had recently agreed to participate in a new study with HE and SCC to address the future of the A3 through Guildford, particularly the stretch between the A31 and Stoke Interchange.  This study would include the impacts of cumulative growth associated with the Local Plan.  Air quality, which was linked to climate change, was an issue related to the A3 which needed addressing.

6.           Discussions were currently taking place regarding modelling of a new transport assessment initiative which would enable proposed public transport schemes to be assessed.  Also, SCC was currently developing a new model which would allow exploration of the implications of modal shift and would lead to the preparation of sub-area models to undertake strategic transport assessments, following the agreement of the related model evaluation report and assessment methodology by this Council and HE.

7.           SCC’s perceptions around the key highway and transport issues and areas to focus spending were welcomed.

8.           Local Plan infrastructure project AM2, Comprehensive Guildford Borough Cycle Network, should be put forward as an additional priority to reflect the importance of encouraging cycling through strategic sites and across the Borough in the interests of reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.

9.           The viability of the former Wisley Airfield site could be dependent upon whether the M25 Junction 10 Development Consent Order was endorsed by the Secretary of State, who had twice delayed making a decision in this regard pending additional environmental information.  In the event that the scheme was not endorsed, it would be for the developer to fund substantial improvements to the northbound carriageway of the A3 between Ockham and the A3 / M25 junction in addition to improving the A3 / M25 roundabout junction.  This factor highlighted the possibility of potential delays and difficulties associated with housing delivery owing to infrastructure issues.


In conclusion, it was agreed that the Executive be advised that:


·             the EAB supports the five priority highway and transport schemes critical to the delivery of the Local Plan in principle.

·             Guildford West station should be prioritised over Guildford East station.

·             Local Plan infrastructure project AM2 (Comprehensive Guildford Borough Cycle Network) should be included as an additional priority scheme.


Supporting documents: