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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 18/11/2003
PRESENTATIONS FROM REPRESENTATIVE BODIES




The Committee received oral presentations of up to fifteen minutes each from the interested parties and representative bodies detailed below.

i) Balfour Beatty – Mr Hoyland

Representing the contractor, Mr Hoyland gave a technical presentation regarding the tunnel.
The tunnel would be 1.9 km long; and would be a twin-bore dual carriageway. The traffic going in different directions would therefore be separated; however, the two tunnels would be joined every 100m by a cross passage. Along the dual carriageway would be a 1.2m footpath and a 1m hard verge within the tunnel.

With regard to the aesthetics of the scheme; it was anticipated that the sides of the tunnel would be deepened, and that all spoil would eventually be used to landscape the site. It was the opinion of the contractor that the existing A3 would be covered with soil to return to heath and heather and would therefore no longer be in use. Cycleroute 500 was to be maintained. They would undertake narrowing works to try and minimise speed along Boundless Road, whilst utilising the fields to the south of the Boundless Road junction for the storage of top soil. It was estimated by the contractor that it would take around five years to complete the project. The first six months would include little in the way of construction as traffic studies would be taking place, and the main construction works would take around four years to complete before opening the road.

In response to a question regarding the safety procedures for the tunnel, Mr Hoyland responded that in the event of an emergency three diversion routes were in place, two for national traffic and one for local. Both bores of the tunnel would be closed, enabling the emergency services to access from the other direction and go through one of the cross passages. The second bore of the tunnel would then be opened in contraflow to reduce traffic build-up. The design of the tunnel complies with the new European Union safety directives.

ii) Haslemere Town Council – Mr Foster

Mr Foster, Mayor of Haslemere Town Council, gave the presentation attached at Annexe 3.1 verbatim. In summary, the Town Council had supported the tunnel since its inception, and was in favour of the closure of the old A3 once the tunnel has been completed.

iii) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Surrey Hills Officer, Mr Fairbanks

Mr Fairbanks gave an oral presentation based on the information attached at Annexe 3.2. He explained that the national designation of the area was equivalent to a National Park, and had been designated as such since 1958. The AONB Surrey Hills Partnership was against major development within AONBs, as its primary purpose was to protect and enhance natural beauty. The AONB covers a quarter of Surrey, including the Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Commons. The Partnership went on a site visit and concluded the project would have a major adverse impact mainly because of the damage to Tyndall’s Wood and Boundless Copse. It was felt that the scheme would lead to increased traffic around Guildford Borough, however, it was also felt that the removal of the old A3 would go someway towards compensating the adverse effects and this was therefore fully supported as an essential, integral, part of the scheme. Despite questions regarding the safety benefits of keeping the old A3, if only for emergency traffic, Mr Fairbanks stated that his interest lay in visual and environmental improvement.


iv) Haslemere Chamber of Trade and Commerce – Mrs M Odell and Mr M Meech

The Chamber had been concerned by the lack of consultation, and felt that as some businesses on the old A3 whole livelihoods were at stake, there should be some provision for compensation. The chamber expressed concern at the attitude of the Highways Agency to the questionnaire that had been circulated and the failure of the HA to distribute data and feedback.

The Chamber had estimated that 189 part-time jobs would be lost, 3 businesses would close and 7 would be adversely affected in the area between the Hindhead traffic lights and the National Trust car park. It was felt that Woolmer Hill, with its local Technology College and Sports Centre would become a rat run. The Chamber suggested the exhibition should be shown there for 2-3 days. The Chamber was not convinced by the safety elements of the tunnel, and expressed concern at the closure of the old A3, as it was felt traffic flow would improve if the old A3 was left open. The Chamber supported the principle of the tunnel, provided there was full consultation and the old A3 is retained for vehicular traffic.

v) Save The Old A Three – (STOAT) – Mr Barry Penny

Mr Penny gave the presentation attached at Annexe 3.3 verbatim. In summary, STOAT believe that the tunnel should be completed as soon as possible, but that the old A3 should remain open for local traffic.

In response to a question on why STOAT claimed that there could be an increase in traffic movements if the old A3 were closed, Mr Penny explained that residents’ vehicles would have to travel south before they could travel north, leading to greater pollution and expense.

vi) National Trust – Mr J Chesshyre

Mr Chesshyre gave a presentation based closely on the information attached at Annexe 3.4. In summary, the National Trust was in favour of the tunnel but is strongly committed to the closure of the old A3 as an integral part of the scheme. Unless this were done, the Trust believes it would leave open the possibility of rat-running by off-road vehicles between Hindhead and the new Boundless Copse junction. The National Trust would prefer BOAT 500 (the Old Portsmouth Road) to become a route for cyclists, walkers and equestrians through reclassification as a bridleway. On being questioned, Mr Chesshyre confirmed there were no circumstances under which the Trust would consider supporting the retention of the old A3 road. Indeed, the Trust would no longer support the overall scheme if the old A3 were retained.


vii) Surrey County Council – Mr P Crossland

Mr Crossland gave a brief presentation outlining Surrey County Council’s position. The County approved of the project in principle and agreed there were substantial safety, economic and environmental benefits. Concern had been expressed about the effect on Woolmer Hill and discussions were now taking place with the Highways Agency regarding suitable traffic calming measures and the possibility of including a crossing outside the school. The existing A3 to the south-west would be detrunked and become the County’s responsibility, whilst the County fully supported the closure of the section to the east due to the environmental, visual and safety benefits. The funding of the works was still an issue for the Council, which believed it should be built as one scheme including works to mend roads in the area. Discussion with the Highways Agency and the Government Office for the South-East continues on this matter. Surrey County Council Executive will consider the item on 6th January 2004.

viii) Cyclists Touring Club – Mr C Juden

Mr Juden gave a presentation closely based on the information attached at Annexe 3.5. In summary, the CTC highlighted the fact that the A3 over the Punchbowl was a major ‘missing link’ in the Surrey Hills cycle route network, and the organisation was therefore strongly in favour of the old A3 remaining, open to walkers, bicycles and occasional horse-drawn vehicles and equestrians. Mr Juden suggested that the surface of the road could be coated in natural chippings in order to aid the aesthetic, and also argued that the portion of road was relatively high, and therefore not visible from many points around the Punchbowl. Mr Juden stressed the historic importance of the road as a cycling route, open for carriages and popular with cyclists since 1826, and considered the route part of Hindhead’s heritage.

ix) Highways Agency – Mr P Arnold

Mr Arnold gave a brief presentation around the slides reproduced at Annexe 3.6. He focused on four questions the HA saw as fundamental to the project:

1) Is the tunnel needed?
2) Is the environment around Hindhead worth protecting?
3) To what extent, if any, are the local people disadvantaged compared to present situation?
4) What would be the consequences of keeping the A3 open to traffic?

With regard to government policy, it was seen as important to balance traffic and access with the fact the area is an AONB and SSI. The timetable presumed that the consultation period would end in January 2004, the inquiry would begin in June 2004, the Secretary of State would consider the scheme and announce his decision in Spring 2005, work on the scheme would begin in Autumn 2005 and would be completed in 2009.



Comms/OandS3/03-04/048