Because the ‘train – v- boat’ battle is playing again?
The Wey and Arun Canal’s planning application is going back for a replay?
Has the noble Baroness for Transport – ‘Vere of Norbiton’ joined forces with the Honourable Angie to put a spanner in the canal organisation’s engines?
On Wednesday 13 October at 6.45 pm Waverley Planners gave The Wey and Arun Canal Trust the go-ahead to build a new bridge over ‘Canal Rushett’ at Run Common near Bramley.
Some believed the controversial decision effectively ruled out ever opening the Horsham to Guildford Railway line a victim of Lord Beaching’s axe in the 1960s.
Now, four months later the very same planning committee will determine the same application… again! Why we must all wonder? Has someone threatened a legal challenge? Oh! yes, they have we hear you cry.
Rumour has it that the noble Baroness won’t sign off on the Woking Heathrow project until all the relevant forces in that scheme put pressure on others to clear the way for her project to Cranleigh and Dunsfold. Possible light railway for the mega settlement because the roads can’t cope? Our Waverley New Year predictions – with a little help from our friends.
Letters went out this week from Waverley’s planning department to people who commented on the Wey and Arun application 2020/0004 to tell them that the ‘consultation was being extended’ and would close on 21 February.
Extended? What consultation? A feeling of deja vu washed over us guys at the Waverley Web. Did that, commented on that months ago, and then bought the Way & Arun T-shirt!
The scheme WA/2020/0004 was recommended for approval by officers and granted by majority vote. We never thought the day would come when we would pity planning officers, but they are overworked and under pressure! However, thankfully a delay in issuing consent may have saved a small fortune from a threatened Judicial Review?
Officers said back in October the canal trust’s proposal would “improve access to waterside leisure and enhance the landscape to the Downs Link”
They also said.
Whilst it may prevent the Downs Link from being used for large-scale sustainable transport infrastucture, such as for a tram or a train in the future, as part of the Guildford to Cranleigh Transport Corridor, no such scheme is planned at present, or has been found to be viable in the past. So the benefits of the scheme outweigh the benefits of safeguarding the land for potential transport use. The Downs Link will remain useable for walkers and cyclists.”
Rail enthusiasts in the Guildford/Cranleigh and Horsham areas fumed as Waverley’s decision effectively scuppered their long-held dream to re-open the line. The English Rural Transport Association (ERTA) has been campaigning to reopen the Guildford section of the Horsham line and re-open the line from Horham to Shoreham. Much of the trackbed still survives.
However, The Wey and Arun Canal Trust – established to reinstate London’s “Lost Route to the Sea” – was given the go-ahead to build 1,000 yards of a new canal from the Wey Navigation by the A281 bridge to a point near the historic aqueduct on Gosden Meadow by Tannery Lane, Bramley.
ERTA’s chairman Richard Phil said: “This will scupper the rail hope, but the association was not giving up its battle entirely.
“Obviously we wish the rail was put first rather than a canal, but we are not giving up as the corridor lends itself to expansion and new interpretation, so accommodating a railway, a canal and a cycleway/walkway means expansion is to be played for. This is a strategic missing link and deserves more strategic support and recognition.”
Now, for climate change/carbon reduction reasons some residents want the committee to refuse the Wey and Arun application re-run because the opportunities to decarbonise transport and reduce traffic in Surrey are few and far between. The application was only passed by a majority of ONE vote last time and there were two abstentions so objectors believe this time there is everything to play for.
It would appear that the long term game is to get new viability and feasibility study, looking not just at just heavy rail but also more modern alternatives. There is DofT money available for these things – provided you can get the right support.
So in the long term perhaps this is the answer to repeated cries for transport infrastructure, and is the only thing that will help take cars off the road from Cranleigh into Guildford and perhaps even to Dunsfold?
Oh! What a tangled web they weave?