Guildford, Monday 5 November 2012: The quality of GBC planning advocacy is again being called into question. Scrutiny of the expert traffic advice for the Waitrose store application before GBC’s Planning Committee tomorrow night (Tuesday, 6th November) shows that council officers have not revealed the full traffic congestion impact of the proposed development in their recommendation for approval.
GBC planning officers state that any congestion caused by the additional traffic is not likely to be ‘severe’ enough to make a case for refusal.
But in making that judgement, there’s one key assumption that really should be challenged. The assessment of traffic flows west out of the site towards the York Road/Woodbridge Road roundabout assumes that the traffic has an uninterrupted flow along Onslow Street into the gyratory system.
It doesn’t take a traffic engineer to spot the problem with that. No allowance has been made for the interruption caused by the traffic light-controlled Woodbridge Road bus lane at the junction with Onslow Street where buses from the bus station head northwards towards the York Road roundabout. Any regular road user in that area will readily recount queuing times spent in York Road, right by the likely location of the Waitrose entrance, trying to negotiate their way through the roundabout junction at Woodbridge Road and left towards the gyratory, or right towards Ladymead.
This latest revelation comes after other calculations, based on the ‘expert’ data, show that officers are happy to recommend approval for the store despite queues from the York Road entrance stretching back 400 metres, across Stoke Road, towards London Road.
The official traffic assessments – many taken on a quiet Thursday in mid July – also assume that the anticipated traffic flows to and from the site will be evenly distributed around all points of the compass. This just doesn’t make sense. There is bound to be a north Guildford bias to store users, as opposed to residents and other in, say, Shalford or Wonersh who are probably still going to use Waitrose at Godalming. So the volume of traffic to and from the northern segment of Guildford is almost certainly underestimated. That queue along York Road is thus probably going to be somewhat longer than 400 metres.
And to add further grief to the gyratory misery, the traffic assessments make no allowance for the number of heavy delivery truck journeys, in and out of the site, using both the gyratory and North Street, and town centre roads beyond, for access. They’ve also left out the impact of the pedestrianisation of North Street and the closure of Leapale Road.
So besides the bizarre promotion by the Council of an out-of-town format supermarket for a residential, town centre site (owned by the Council), Planning Committee members look unlikely to be able to rely unquestioningly on the officers’ traffic assessment or recommendation.
After the failure of the Draft Town Centre Plan, the Interim Framework document, the North Street Brief and now the Waitrose traffic evidence for what is a premature proposal in the light of the other major town centre proposals being promoted, what next?
Notes for Editors
- Guildford Vision Group (GVG) has formed with the sole purpose of arguing Guildford’s urgent need of a long term vision in which the sustainable vitality of the town and its enterprise is ensured for the next 30 years and beyond. GVG is independent, and has no affiliations or vested interests.
- Further information available at www.guildfordvisiongroup.com
Contact: Yvonka Wilkinson, Campaign Manager, Vision for Guildford Ltd on 07767 251040