Councillors have halted the closure of Farnham By-Pass over the Christmas shopping period claiming it would wreak​ havoc on traders?

However, if you watched the webcast of Waverly’s Joint Planning Committee you may be totally confused by Crest Nicholson’s bid to carry out work affecting the A31 24/7. 

HERE’S THE Q.

To close, or not to close, a lane on the A31 – 24/7? This would enable developers to build a bridge over troubled waters, to gain access to the Blightwells Yard development site during the busiest trading month in Farnham shopkeepers’ calendar?

The developer already has permission for partial road closures but believes complete closure 24/7 could shorten the predicted disruption from 16-weeks to between 4-6.

However, any work on Surrey’s roads is embargoed by the county council between 19-Nov and 7th December to minimise disruption to travellers.

After one of the most confusing and turgid debates, peppered with discombobulating explanations by Richard Cooper Surrey County highway’s supposed road planning ‘expert.’  The debate was so muddy and unclear, it made the effluent going into Farnham’s sewage treatment works look clearer than Evian Water!

When the Webcast wasn’t switching off Farnham Resident’ Councillor Jerry Hyman  –  it cannot be coincidence, can it?!?! He was able to join others in expressing concerns that changes to existing conditions supported by Waverley’s planning officers – could be catastrophic for Farnham businesses.Screen Shot 2018-11-14 at 21.01.08.png

“Do we really want our residents shooting off to Guildford or somewhere & else to do their Christmas shopping?” Do we want to gridlock Farnham Town Centre – and kill off trade in this town at a critical time of year?” He also predicted dire consequences in roads around  Farnham station and South Street due to 3-second phasing changes at the lights.

Farnham Councillor Andy McLeod said the town’s Christmas lights would be turned on this week – three weeks before the introduction of the county embargo. If the developer went ahead next week, work could, if the condition was changed,  take place for 3 weeks 24/7 prompting chaos in Farnham town centre.  

He claimed If members followed officers advice not only Crest Nicholson, but both the county and Waverley council’s reputations would be damaged! Car park closures would damage trade too. He wasn’t suggesting work should not take place, merely postponed until mid-January.

Others pointed to the developer’s failure over many years to get on with the job, which four years ago former councillor Adam Taylor-Smith had described as being “shovel ready!” Godalming councillor Paul Follows said his local research revealed the strength of local feeling. “We have to do what is best for the residents of Farnham, not a developer!” The application should definitely be deferred until after Christmas.

Officers argued there was a short window of opportunity before demolition of Berkeley’s Woolmead development began, with its resulting HGV movements. To miss that could cause even more traffic problems.   Crest Nicholson had an extant permission and could start work immediately during limited hours – until 7 December when the county council embargo would be triggered until 7 January.

However, councillors narrowly refused by 11 votes to 10 to change the planning condition.

However, should it wish? The developer can close one lane of the A31 between 9am-5pm from Monday.

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4 thoughts on “Councillors have halted the closure of Farnham By-Pass over the Christmas shopping period claiming it would wreak​ havoc on traders?

  1. A few things about this debate but I’ll start with the positives. I gather Crest will not be starting until after Christmas.

    However – what did bother me is that no other options were considered whatsoever and actually we clearly needed both halves of Surrey Highways present to answer our questions!

    The fact that people were concerned enough to reach out to a Godalming councillor says something to – and most of those people said they were tired of being ignored by in favour of Brightwells.

  2. Firstly, Good news that Crest will not commence until after Christmas. It would have been a huge own goal if it had! There is only so much bad publicity this company can take.

    However, you and many others were concerned that no other options were considered, and it was clear to anyone watching the webcast – when it worked !!! – that both the planning highwayman and the highway operators should have been there. That was down to officers.
    But once again, officers were recommending something that would damage both Waverley’s and Surrey County Council’s reputation – so why would they risk that?
    The fact that Farnham people are reaching out to a Godalming councillor – YOU – is quite simple – YOU LISTEN TO THEM COUNCILLOR FOLLOWS – and long may it continue. To find a Councillor who is interested in the stuff of other people’s lives is so refreshing. The Winds of change are blowing through Waverley Towers – let’s hope it will become a hurricane?

  3. I have to say – who needs Liz the Biz – when the Planning officer Ruth was so adamant to get this through. A “Window of Opportunity” to get it done before the chaos that Woolmead will cause in February etc etc.. I really thought she was going to throw her toys out of the Box!!

    If looks could kill poor Lewis would have expired when he raised the fact that requesting no works starts until 7th Jan 2019 as part of Town & Planning Legislation – Bless him!

    Shame Planning Officers didn’t think this through Properly YEARS ago as I have said before there is no joined up thinking with regard to these multiple Planning Applications which have such a combined effect on any of our Towns and Villages.

    I don’t think this 3 week Window will cause Crest any major headaches – as they would have had to cease anyway from 7th December – 7th Jan, so they should take it with a pinch of salt and hopefully the residents and businesses in Farnham can have a good run up to Christmas and the New Year

  4. Hear, hear – traders in our town have been having a tough time, like so many others in the borough. They are all well aware the New Year will herald a period of chaos, but at least they will hopefully get a few good trading weeks in the run-up to the holidays.

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