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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/04/2004
A31 Hickleys Corner Underpass Proposals

Summary & Purpose
Surrey County Council has published proposals for the construction of an underpass at Hickley’s Corner on the A31 in Farnham. This report explains the scheme and provides comment on the design. The views of the Executive are sought on the proposals. The matter has been considered by the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

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[Ward Affected: Farnham Castle]

Summary and purpose:

Surrey County Council has published proposals for the construction of an underpass at Hickley’s Corner on the A31 in Farnham. This report explains the scheme and provides comment on the design. The views of the Executive are sought on the proposals. The matter has been considered by the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

It is anticipated that the scheme will yield positive benefits for Waverley. The barrier to movement between north and south Farnham represented by A31 through traffic at Hickley’s Corner would be removed. The existing traffic signal junction has one of the highest accident rates in the Borough, with a record of serious and fatal accidents involving pedestrians. An underpass would remove the potential for accidents involving pedestrians and fast moving traffic on the A31. Environmental benefits would arise as a result of lowering the A31 beneath surface level and allowing through traffic to pass without stopping.

E-Government implications:

There are no e-government implications as a result of this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no resource and legal implications arising from this report.


The proposed underpass at Hickley’s Corner on the A31 at Farnham

1. Surrey County Council plan to make a bid to central government in July 2004 for financial support to introduce an underpass at Hickley’s Corner on the A31. If this bid is successful, construction could start in 2007 at the earliest, with the underpass open to traffic in 2009.

2. This scheme was previously promoted by the County Council in the mid-nineties, although at that time it was combined with a grade separated junction at the Shepherd and Flock. The combined scheme did not proceed because the Shepherd and Flock proposals would have affected a large area of the River Wey flood plain environment. SCC are now seeking to promote the Hickley’s Corner scheme only.

3. The County Council held a public exhibition in Farnham from 24th to 27th September 2003, which included the following information:-

4. Key features (See Plan at Annexe 1): A31 through traffic passes beneath a new roundabout set at surface level. Right turns are permitted from the bypass into Station Hill and South Street. The A31 underneath Firgrove Hill Bridge is widened to allow two lanes in each direction between Hickley’s Corner and Weydon Lane. Weydon Lane becomes left-in left-out only and the traffic signals are removed. Traffic signals are introduced at the junction of Firgrove Hill and Approach Road. The 50mph speed limit is retained on the A31. The BP service station would be accessed via the westbound slip road leading from the bypass to the roundabout. A subway is provided for the pedestrian and cycle route between Red Lion Lane and Weydon Lane.
5. The main benefit will be to Guildford Road, Dogflud Way, East Street and the northern part of South Street, which are expected to experience about a 30% reduction in two way traffic. Conversely, it is anticipated that the southern part of South Street will experience a 55% increase in two way traffic. Traffic in Union Road is expected to increase by 10%, while in West Street a small reduction is forecast.
6. The slip road westbound from the underpass towards Alton would join the A31 close to the Weydon Lane junction, which would cause conflict. Therefore the traffic lights on the A31 would be removed and the junction would become left-in left-out only. With the right turn onto the A31 no longer available, local traffic would have to use other routes to join the A31 eastbound: either turn left onto the A31 and then U-turn at Coxbridge Roundabout or use Firgrove Hill and Approach Road to reach Hickley’s Corner. It is likely that traffic on these routes will increase, hence the proposed installation of the traffic lights at the Firgrove Hill/Approach Road junction. 7. Traffic levels on the A31 Farnham Bypass are expected to increase as drivers bound for local destinations use the new right turn at Hickley’s Corner to access the town centre and Station Hill, rather than following other routes, as they do today. Longer distance traffic using the A31 is not expected to increase.

Effects on traffic - The Shepherd and Flock Roundabout

8. No change is expected in the amount of traffic using the Shepherd and Flock roundabout.
9. It is likely that the congestion at Coxbridge Roundabout will increase as a result of losing the right turn out of Weydon Lane. Investigating solutions to this expected increase in congestion will form an integral part of developing the underpass scheme.

Results of the Public Exhibition on the Scheme 10. The purpose of the exhibition was to establish whether there is support for the proposed underpass, and to find out what people thought about various elements of the scheme in order to assist further development. 11. Some 1,300 people attended the four day exhibition. Questionnaires were available at the exhibition, or from the exhibition website. 996 completed questionnaires had been received by 31st October 2003, the closing date for returns.

12. The returned questionnaires indicate good support for the scheme, with 91 % of respondents either supporting or strongly supporting the core proposals (an A31 underpass, two lanes in each direction beneath Firgrove Hill Bridge, Weydon Lane left-in, left-out only), and 9% of respondents either opposing or strongly opposing the core proposals. 13. Good support is also indicated for other elements of the scheme, namely introducing traffic signals at the junction of Approach Road with Firgrove Hill (86% support/strongly support), widening Approach Road (91% support/strongly support), introducing a controlled pedestrian and cycle crossing in Station Hill (89% support/strongly support) and introducing a subway under the A31 between Weydon Lane and Red Lion Lane (80% support/strongly support). 14. 57% of respondents thought there should be controlled pedestrian crossings on the eastern side of the proposed roundabout at Hickley’s Corner (as well as on the western side) and 48% of respondents thought a footway should be provided along the south side of the A31 between Station Hill and Weydon Lane. 15. Respondents were asked respectively for their comments on the core proposals, and other comments. The summary of responses combines the responses to these two questions. 16. The most frequently made comments are summarised as follows: ‘Get on with building the scheme’ (143 comments), ‘Concerned that the scheme will result in more congestion in south Farnham’ (106 comments), ‘Concerned that the scheme will result in more congestion at Coxbridge Roundabout’ (90 comments), ‘Concerned that the scheme will result in more congestion in Wrecclesham’ (39 comments), ‘Provide right turns at Weydon Lane junction with the A31’ (29 comments).

17. While the results from the exhibition questionnaire indicate strong support for the scheme, they also identify local concerns about the effects on traffic in south Farnham, at Coxbridge Roundabout and in Wrecclesham.

Potential scheme modifications 18. In the light of feedback from the exhibition, Surrey County Council are exploring modifications to the scheme. The most significant of these is to retain the traffic signals at Weydon Lane and preserve the right turn onto the A31. This would be achieved by linking the westbound slip road from Hickley’s Corner to join the Weydon Lane junction under signal control, rather than have the slip road directly join the A31 in advance of the junction. Although the right turn out of Weydon Lane would be retained, the right turn from the bypass into Weydon Lane would be closed. 19. The County Council is consulting on this option with Resident Associations in south west Farnham, the area that would be most directly affected by changes at the Weydon Lane junction. No decision has been made on whether the modification will be adopted. Officer comments 20. Despite the fact that there are some drawbacks to the scheme as indicated above, there are thought to be some very significant benefits for the town centre. The bypass was completed in the late 1950s and ever since then the town has been divided into two. The bypass is a very significant barrier and separates the town centre from the station and south Farnham. It is also a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists who are exposed to fast moving traffic and complex turning movements by vehicles. The whole environment of the crossing is polluted, hostile and dangerous and it has a serious accident record.

21. If the underpass is constructed it will reduce the traffic entering the junction from all four directions by 65%, making the whole crossing safer and more pleasant. 22. The development of this scheme is at a very early stage. If Surrey’s bid to central government is accepted, design and assessment will proceed in increasing detail, and it is anticipated that the Borough Council will be consulted in more detail.

Conclusion 23. The underpass will not cause a reduction in traffic in the vicinity because it does not remove the through traffic from the overall route along the A31 through Farnham. However, it is expected to bring major relief to the main crossing point between the town centre and south Farnham - to the benefit of local traffic, pedestrians and cyclists and go some way to reunifying a town that has been divided in two for fifty years.

Consideration by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee

24. The Environment and Leisure Committee considered the above report at its meeting on 16th March 2004. The Committee strongly supported the Scheme in principle, but asked the Executive to consider the following additional observations:

Recommendation It is recommended that the Executive takes into account the observations or amendments put forward by the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee and agrees to make formal representations on the scheme as set out in the report.

Background Papers (DoP&D) There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

Name: G Moloney Telephone: 01483 523296