The London plane at the junction of Monument Road and Monument Hill – the local landmark fast becoming an icon in the development debate – is potentially threatened by the Morrisons planning application for a new store in Weybridge. Many options, including mine of using shared space, have been considered but at an early stage discussions between Surrey and Morrisons ruled out the inclusion of raised crossings and shared space, due to the function of Monument Hill as an A road as it says in a recent report.
This is lazy. There are already “A” roads in Britain with shared space – indeed there are already primary routes with shared space. (Primary routes are strategically more important than “A” roads). There are also roads with shared space that have greater flow of traffic than Monument Hill.
If we cannot get a shared space solution with lower speed limits or a “four stop” stop solution there will have to be a roundabout. A roundabout will almost certainly lead to the felling of the Weybridge plane tree.
We need to have an open mind in this debate and consider as many options as possible.
Morrisons submitted its planning application to the borough on 19 April but the plans have only become available now. You have until 17 May to make any observations. Click here to get to the application. Then type in 2013/1611. The details are right at the bottom of the page.
Given that this is a very important application and that the borough had the application for over ten days before putting on the website, the length of time given for consultation is too short. I will be asking for an extension. In any case, make sure that any observations you might have are submitted before the current deadline.
For more background on this application search “Morrisons” (top left of this page) on this site.
I believe that we can make our town centre a pleasant place to be in despite the amount of traffic that flows through the town. We can shorten travel time for motorists, increase trade for our shops, and make the roads safer for our children and the elderly. Enable more people to cycle, which will itself also reduce congestion. Allow people with disabilities and the infirm to navigate their way through the traffic and reduce their stress. We can not only save but improve the heritage represented by our conservation areas in the Quadrant and Monument Green. We could even save the London plane tree in Monument Hill.
Conventional safety experts will tell you that we need traffic lights, roundabouts, tactile bubble paving and a vast array of signs but it is simply not true.
The following video shows what can be done with the will and the imagination. We have a great opportunity to make this happen by taking advantage of new developments in the town. If the main road is to be remodelled let us make sure that it is designed to the highest standards. Don’t let the naysayers sell us short.
If Poynton can achieve these excellent results then surely Weybridge can do so too. What are your views?
One of the advantages that Poynton had was that the highway authority and the planning authority were the same – Cheshire East Council. Our planning authority – Elmbridge – and our highway authority – Surrey – are separate but that does not mean that they cannot work together to provide the outcomes we need.
The problems can occur when changes are proposed and there is no discussion between the relevant parties – at the same time.
Many of you will have noticed that the lampposts have been going up in the High Street. Some of you have called me about how bright they are. Surrey tells me that when first put up the lamps are lit at full intensity for two weeks and then dimmed. If the new lampposts in your street are still to bright after two weeks, Surrey tells me that shades will be made available free of charge.
Representatives of the Weybridge Town Business Group (my company is a member) and the Weybridge Society transport panel, which I founded, host a very interesting meeting to which they had visited local councillors of both Elmbridge and Surrey plus a number of officers from both administrations along with representatives of other local interested groups.
Tony Palmer gave a presentation highlighting the strengths of Weybridge and also the weaknesses. There were a number of issues discussed, cycling provision, upkeep of green spaces, rates, planning class for retail, parking, safety, signage and heavy lorries – to name a few.
The achievement was to get so many people around the table. Now it is important to ensure that the action points coming out of the meeting are taken forward.
Following concerns that modern lampposts are being installed in Monument Green, I have gained assurances from Surrey staff that five heritage lampposts are to be installed shortly. Their locations are marked in yellow on the map below.
Using its majority in the full meeting the Conservatives voted though price increases on the borough car parks (excluding the leisure and auxiliary car parks). In the 2011-12 financial year the borough raised a shade under £2 million from parking charges. This produced a surplus of £990,000 after costs. There are nine towns in Elmbridge yet Weybridge alone provided a surplus of £410,000 – nearly half. Some car parks are free yet Weybridge’s car parks are the most expensive in the borough. Monument Hill – the most expensive – raises £1,650 per space per year. In many ways Weybridge’s problem is its very success. Even at these prices most of Weybridge’s car parks are often full or nearly full whereas in other towns – even though they have lower charges they are often quite empty.
If you have not seen them already, have a look at the new swan neck lampposts in Mount Pleasant. What do you think of them? If you are aware of the progress towards these lampposts in your street then please contact me. If you think your street should be added to this programme then now is the time to be included.