The coronavirus has had a significant impact on all of us and we are desperate to eradicate it. But despite all the negative impact, can we maintain the positives that we have seen?
Many cars have been idle in the driveway and people have started walking and cycling both for their daily shopping and for their daily exercise; this has a positive impact on both the health of the individual and on the climate. There are many stories of how people are enjoying the clearer skies, whilst others talk about how they enjoy hearing birdsong now that the noise from traffic and air travel has significantly reduced.
For many years Weybridge High Street has had particularly poor air quality due to traffic congestion. Last year it was selected as one of two places in Elmbridge (the other being Hampton Court) for continuous air quality monitoring and recent figures show that average levels of NO2 have fallen from previously high concentrations of up to 55 μg/m3 to approximately 24 μg/m3 by the end of April. (National policy is that nitrogen dioxide concentrations should not regularly exceed 40 μg/m3.)
Wouldn’t it be good if our renewed awareness of our environment was translated into long term action for sustainable improvements? Can we maintain the current air quality when the emergency measures start to be lifted? Should we introduce an Elmbridge low emissions zone? Can we plant more trees and hedges? Will Surrey County Council install more cycle lanes and change all buses to be electric or fuel-cell powered? Can we encourage more children to walk or cycle to school?
Is it just me or are these new pedestrian crossing lights facing the wrong way.
Surely, if you have two displays, the upper ones should facing the people crossing from the other side.
The upper displays were probably added because only having one display mean that people could not see if there were many people waiting.
I know that Puffin crossings are supposed to be an improvement on the old Pelican crossing that we are used to but like so many engineering features they can have the opposite effect.
Studies show that the new Puffins are marginally safer than the old Pelicans. What they mean is that there are fewer injuries associated with Puffins than Pelicans. Traffic engineers often confuse fewer and less serious accidents with a place being safer. One could put guard rails along the entire High Street so that no -one can cross the street without using a car. That would make the High Street “safer” but it make it less amenable for walking. In my view if a High Street was a guard rail there is someone wrong with the layout and design of the street.
Guard rails in High Streets, pro-car new traffic signals, poor road surfaces – it re-enforces the notion that our Surrey administration favours Chelsea tractors over walking.
The reason why Puffins have the display on the post is to make pedestrians look at the on coming traffic. Imagine if the traffic signals for cars where placed not ahead but to the left and the right.
I am awaiting an answer from Surrey Highways regarding this replacement programme. I hadn’t seen any thing about it in the committee papers and it was not discussed. I hope it not a waste of money.
This picture happens to show my workplace – no not the Ship but above Waitrose.
The timetable for reviewing parking in Weybridge as decided by Surrey is as follows: January and February – collection of views. April and May – Surrey’s assessment, development and informal consultation. June – Surrey’s committee authorisation to advertise proposals. July and August – advertisement of proposals. September and October – consideration of proposals and final decision. November and December – detailed design. April and May 2017 – implimentation.
Another step on the way to safe travel for pedestrians and cyclists between the town and the station along Heath Road.
Surrey has never pushed for a path here because it was always considered too difficult to get permission from the owners for a path on the common. Despite the general reluctance to make the move, I pressed for approaches to be made to the owners of the land. Officers from Surrey have now approached the owners who have given their approval in principle.
There are many more steps ahead. However, gaining this permission in principle is probably the most important. We are now moving ahead on seeking sources of funding. There are currently more financial pots available than there were previously. Two examples are the Community Infrastructure Levy-CIL – and the M3 Growth Fund.
Further planning permission for this site, which already has planning permission for nine flats, was sought for two extra flats. I asked that planning consent be denied on the grounds of parking stress and the bulk and height of the proposal – it now being four floors high instead of three.
The majority of the other councillors felt the proposal was not out of keeping with the other buildings in the locality as Manor Court was higher as were the office blocks. However, neither of those buildings were hard up against the highway and Manor Court is quite set back.
I was outvoted last time over the parking stress and this time the other councillors felt that as we had not refused the applicant before for parking stress we could not revisit this aspect even though the extra two flats would increase the problem. Surrey planning staff consider that parking is not required for flats which are “near the station and the town centre”. There will be at least eleven cars in this site and no-where to park.
I also raised concerns over the light in Albany Court. The planning officer showed me that the proposed building would not conflict with the 25% rule. This rule is to protect light in established dwelling in the locality. Taking a line at 25% degree from horizontal from the ground level windows in Albany Court would not meet the proposed building. And in any case that rule applies for only the first 15m and the proposed building was 17m away.
I was outvoted by the majority (I am the only Lib Dem on the committee and all the other were Conservatives) and outline planning permission was given.
I number of people has raised the issues of pedestrian safety on this corner. I totally agree that the junction of Baker Street and Monument Hill needs to be redesigned but without Surrey’s active engagement this planning permission itself would not be affected. Previous planning comments here.
I learnt today that Surrey’s Countryside Officer has received formal notice of objection to the Broadwater Path from St George’s School on grounds of safeguarding.
I know that many people will be disappointed at this turn of events, especially given that St George’s School already has a public footpath passing through its grounds.
I trust that the matter can be resolved quickly as it was expected that the construction of the path could begin this spring. This path, walked by many, including me, for several decades, was awarded £110,000 by Elmbridge to enable people with disabilities to progress from Weybridge to Cowey Sale with ramped bridges over the Broadwater and Engine Rivers.
This would only be the first stage because once the path was in place it would open up the possibility of public funding for essential maintenance of the lake, which is pressingly needed.
Junior Rangers are back during the February half term school holiday on Wednesday, 17 February from 10 am to 11 am in the council chamber at the civic centre, High Street, Esher KT10 9SD. Children will be making their own bird boxes to take home. Spaces are limited so booking is essential. To book, call the countryside team on 01372 474575, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Parking is available in the public car park next to the civic centre.
As you may know, I have been campaigning for a range of safety measures including safe routes to school, cycleways and lower speeds and as part of this campaign I have been able to persuade Surrey set up a cycle task group for Elmbridge. This group has agreed to focus on Weybridge’s needs first. As part of that exercise, a proposal is being considered to build a a separate cycle path from the station via Heathside School to the town centre and eventually to the river. Much of its route would be parallel to Heath Road.
At this stage we are only looking at a feasibility study but it is a welcome step in the right direction.
With this and other such proposal we could begin to make real improvement in our safety and well being.
Many Weybridge residents have told me that they would like the town centre to have a focal point – what better than to pedestrianise the very centre of the town? Give your comments. it is just a very short strip between Baker Street and Churchfields Road but it would make a great difference to the look and feel of Baker Street, Church Street and the High Street. This would bring a whole series of benefits.
There would be a small piazza for people to relax in the quiet centre of town
Shopping throughout the town centre would be a more pleasant experience
Air pollution, which is current at or above legal limits, would be greatly reduced
More short-term parking would be available
Baker Street would no longer be a rat-run
Access to the town centre would be quicker as the through traffic would not be in the way
Buses would travel through the town centre unimpeded by cars.
The noise level would be so low that we could hear bird song rather than car engines.
It is likely that far more people could be sat across the new pavement between Cafe One and the Elmbridge Arms. What a pleasant way to have a cup of tea or coffee in the sun.
This project would cost very little. Many projects like this can takes years to put in place in England because of the way our governments are organised. Responsibilities are spread between so many bodies that no-one takes the lead.
What about having a pilot first – just for next summer? A temporary pilot would probably cost less than the consultation exercise required. People would quickly experience the positive and negative aspects of the scheme. Changes could be made as necessary through practical experience. What is your view – take the survey.
Most people would consider that the biggest problem would be what happens to the traffic? Clearly the through traffic will not be able to travel down the High Street. Just like water, traffic always finds new ways through. Surprisingly when changes like this are made a proportion of the traffic simply disappears but we would be wise to anticipate any problems and put in place appropriate mitigation measures.
This is simply a suggestion to set off your creative juices. Another idea – much more expensive is here.
I have contacted Surrey countryside access team. They tell me that they have met up with the health club which is the main landowner, and a plan has been agreed. Surrey intend to clear the path alongside Broadwater, which will then help the health club establish which route they are agreeing to dedicate. Once all the legal dedication agreements have been put in place we can start with the surfacing. It is likely to take about six to twelve months.
I have asked for a plan of the route at the eastern end to ensure all path route are protected (black to Oatlands Drive – red to Thames Path and Green to Cowey Sale). If you want to be part of a team to register all the bridleways and footpath in the town then please contact me.