Change Is Coming And We Must Make The Most Of It

Farnham has changed a lot in recent years and further changes are on their way.

The question is, how do we ensure that these changes are appropriate to the town?

The one thing that I can guarantee is that absolutely no one is going to get the Town Centre redesign that they would like to create. No one has the ability to widen the space between the listed buildings in the Town Centre to create more space, nor does any authority have a magic money tree providing infinite funds for idealistic schemes.

Making The Most Of Brightwells

Whatever your opinion on Brightwells, it’s here and we now need to make it a success.

The town and its elected representatives need to work together to build on the success of the REEL cinema to attract quality tenants for the commercial properties, create community hubs, and make the most of the pedestrianised area and central green space.

Adapting East Street For The Future

Since the Brightwells planning application was originally approved, vehicles have increased in size and recent analysis has shown that HGVs would not be able to pass each other on the bends on the Woolmead if it was two way.

It means that, for now, Woolmead needs to stay one way, with the revised plans for East Street, approved by Waverley Planning earlier this month, seeing it narrowed to one lane with wider pavements and an improved crossing point and Woolmead is being left one way.

More road capacity than originally approved but not the hoped for pedestrianised area.

What Will Happen To The Woolmead?

It seems inevitable that the approved plans for the Woolmead site will not be built and a revised planning application will be required. Hopefully one that will provide much needed accommodation for younger people and UCA students.

Such a development should provide an opportunity to take land from the site to create wider road widths on the bends to make Woolmead two way and pedestrianise part of East Street.

Tackling The Traffic Issue In Our Town

The Town Centre works element of the Farnham Infrastructure Project are due to start in September and there will be an opportunity to view the plans at the Farnham Town Council Annual General Meeting on the 22nd of April at the Bush Hotel.

Schemes like these are all about compromise, short term pain for long term gain.

To improve the pedestrian and shopping experience in the town’s centre, I firmly believe that we need to widen the pavements on the narrow section of The Borough and at the top of Downing Street, as well as providing additional safe pedestrian crossing points.

That means finding ways to take traffic out of the gyratory system, with the solution being to make the section of The Borough between Castle Street and Downing Street two way, and by making the bottom of Downing Street also two way (see illustration below).

Cycling Provision Remains A Compromise

I would like to see a dedicated cycling link on Castle Street between Long Garden Walk and Park Row and the closure of Park Row to vehicles. However, the Castle Street link would mean the removal of parking spaces which the residents of Castle Street raised a petition against, and the closure of Park Row was not supported in the recent parking review.

As a result, cycling improvements are limited to Borelli Walk, additional cycle parking and the 20 mph zone, supported by raised table crossing points which double up as traffic calming.

I know that cyclists are not happy with this compromise, but, hopefully, it’s just a start.

The priority Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) routes developed over last summer will deliver schemes that will help with local school routes in particular once funding is secured.  However, more will need to be done.

I am going to continue to work with other local Councillors to look for opportunities with new developments, such as the Farnham Cemetery Application where, with the support of SCC Highways, I pushed for a new off road walking and cycling route. Sadly, whilst this was supported by local WBC Councillors, it was not supported by WBC planning officers.

Fortunately, the WBC Planning Committee voted to refuse the application so we the opportunity for the route to be delivered is still there.

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