During her maiden speech, MP Angela Richardson said her mission was to re-purpose the old Horsham to Guildford railway line along the Downslink that runs through her Guildford & Cranleigh constituency.
If she’s sticking to her dream, she better put down her pad at the Tory Conference in Manchester and hop-a-long to Waverley Towers. Because it just about to trash her cunning plan.
Waverley Planning officers intend to recommend approval of – WA/2020/0004 – Erection of new bridges, construction of new canal cut, new footpaths and landscaping at Land Coordinates 502910 142158, Wey And Arun Canal, Rushett Common Bramley.
Officers claim that the proposed canal would represent an improvement to access to waterside leisure and bring landscape enhancements to the Downs Link.
Whilst it may prevent the Downs Link from being used for large scale sustainable transport infrastructure, such as tram or train, in the future as part of the Guildford to Cranleigh Sustainable Transport Corridor, no such scheme is planned at present or is viable in the past. The benefits of the project outweigh the benefits of safeguarding the land for potential transportation use. The Downs Link would remain as a useable sustainable transport corridor for walkers and cyclists.
Disaster for Cranleigh, Bramley, Shalford and Angie? Or a triumph for the Wey and Arun Canal Trust and all who sail with her?
Former MP Anne Milton feared that opening up the old railway line for any form of transport system would open the floodgates along its length for wholesale development. Surely her predecessor wouldn’t want that – or would she now that she is working with Michael Gove Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The man who says he wants residents in future to be the overseers of developments!
The application for changes to the Wey and Arun will be considered by the Eastern planning committee on 13 October. Officers acknowledge it will rule out the use of the Downslink forever as a sustainable transport corridor.
The Waverley Friends of the Earth has opposed it as it recognises that although there is no plan now for a transport route, no one knows what the future may bring. The private sector has opened many similar lines, and public funding isn’t always required.
Parish councils in Cranleigh, Bramley and Wonersh have no objection.