Planning Applications

ASHRA's Response - Highways/Traffic/Congestion


Huge Traffic jams are a twice daily occurrence on many local roads and outside local schools. In the morning rush-hour Manor Road, Ash Street and other roads are congested for hours towards Aldershot and towards Guildford. In the afternoon “school run” period there are cars parked the length of Manor Road, and in the many side roads including Ash Lodge Drive, which inhibits the traffic flow on the main bus route along Manor Road. This also makes the situation extremely dangerous for pedestrians including the children entering and exiting Ash Manor School. In addition, when there are any traffic problems on the A31 Hogs Back or the A331 Blackwater Valley Relief Road, which are a regular feature, especially in the winter months, then all of this traffic diverts though Tongham and Ash creating total gridlock.

Ash Lodge Drive (which only has one access from the east and one from the west) is already used as a “high speed rat run” during peak hours by traffic trying to avoid the congestion in Ash Street and Manor Road. The additional volumes of traffic from this proposed development will exasperate the situation and the siting of an additional proposed junction at the western end of Ash Lodge Drive will massively increase the risk to pedestrians/children.  

There will also be vastly increased traffic through The Street in Tongham, which, in the rush hour, is already heavy. The village centre includes listed buildings and local shops, so widening of the road to alleviate the congestion is not possible.

In their Transport Assessment, Stuart Michael Associates Limited state that, “from comments raised in the public meetings, Stuart Michael had noted that traffic through Tongham was occasionally impeded due to on-street parking”. This is absolutely not true. What they were told was traffic through Tongham is at a standstill in the morning and afternoon due to the volume of traffic trying to get to and from the Hog’s Back.

Other ridiculous comments made by Stuart Michael Associates are:

  • Ash Lodge Drive, Loddon Way & Southlands Road are quiet residential roads suitable for a route from the site to shops etc. The reality is this route is already a rat-run for traffic avoiding the gridlock in Ash Street.
  • Ash Church Road experiences periodic queues in relation to the level crossing. Once again in reality between the hours of 07:00 and 08:45 the traffic can be at a standstill as far back as the Greyhound Roundabout in Ash, some 2km

The most ridiculous statement of all in their Transport Assessment was in point 3.56 wherein they detail alternative routes that will be available to site residents and also other local residents. They also say that if three alternative routes are used, there will be no impact on traffic at the level crossing. They seem to think that the local people in Ash and Tongham are Neanderthals and didn’t already know these routes existed. If the first route, Grange Road/Foreman Road/Ash Green Road/Harpers Road is used, it is extremely difficult to get out onto the Guildford Road, and you may as well wait for the railway crossing barrier. The second route suggested, via Wyke Lane is usually under water in the winter from adjacent fields at more than one point, therefore not a good option. The third suggested route is so far out of the way it's just not feasible.

The NPPF states that encouragement should be given to solutions which support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce traffic congestion. We think that putting around 800 additional cars in the middle of an already congested area rather flies in the face of the NPPF.

According to the NPPF, plans should take account of whether improvements can be undertaken within the transport network that cost effectively limit the significant impacts of the development. This is obviously not the case.

Once again it should also be noted that in neighbouring Hampshire, less than 3 kms away from this proposed site, Rushmoor Borough Council have approved planning for more than 4,000 houses to be built as part of the Aldershot Urban Extension. This is the first phase of the sell-off of Ministry of Defence land and is expected, in the next 20 years, to increase Aldershot’s population by 25%. This will add massive pressure to the A331 the A31 and more importantly to Ash Street. A large proportion of the traffic from this development wanting to access Guildford will pass through Ash. The traffic trying to get onto the A3 at the eastern end of the A31 Hogs Back, tails back some 5 km on a regular basis.

Rushmoor Borough Council have objected to this Planning Application because the proposal involves development that cannot be reconciled with the NPPF in that it has not been demonstrated that the significant movements generated could be accommodated adequately on the existing local and strategic transport network within Hampshire/Surrey. It would also result in a severe impact on the road safety and operation of the local transport network contrary to the NPPF.

Stuart Michael Associates Limited Transport Assessment 3.83 states that the traffic surveys were carried out during school terms. This is absolutely not true. The first traffic survey was done in August 2011. Several residents approached the people counting cars and asked what they we doing. They were told it was a traffic survey for the future Bewley Homes site. This was the first we knew about the new Bewley Homes proposals, when we knew about the survey.

Barton Willmore’s Environmental Statement says “The additional traffic flows generated onto Ash Lodge Drive and Manor Road are within the daily variation of traffic flows and therefore have not been assessed as part of the cumulative impact assessment”. It is very strange that although they put a traffic sensor across Ash Lodge Drive in the exact position of the proposed access road to the site, no data has been used anywhere in the Planning Application from this sensor.

Under their travel plan people will take far less trips by car, but rather use bicycles or walk. In fact In the Stuart Michael Associates Transport Assessment it states that it is generally accepted that trips of up to 2km and 5km can reasonably be undertaken on foot. What a wonderful picture is painted. Ash and Tongham are sleepy towns in the backwoods of leafy Surrey, where the people are so happy that everywhere is concrete and they can walk or cycle for miles to the shops and to work every day. There are no cars to worry about, so nobody ever gets run over and we have the best road safety record in the country………..this is also the opposite of the conclusion in the Guildford Local Plan Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report where in figure 7.1 it shows that almost 60% use their car to travel to work as opposed to less than 4% using a cycle.

Also, the Traffic Assessment is just a waste of 25 pages of the report for the following reasons:

  • the busy times on the roads in locations outside London are between 07:00 and 08:00. So to base all of the figures around the times of 08:00 to 09:00 is deliberately misleading
  • mysteriously no measurements are included from the traffic sensor installed on Ash Lodge Drive, (the most important point)
  • it assumes a bus service through the site, which is dubious to say the least
  • the prediction that most of the people on the site will use their cycles and not cars
  • it does not take into account the potential traffic generated from the 4,000 houses being built in Hampshire within 3 kms.

Stuart Michael Associates - Design & Access Statement Table 22.1 Indicative Development Programme shows what Bewley Homes expect us to believe regarding the pace of their building programme, in that this is a five year project. This of course is based on the wildly optimistic notion that they will sell every house as it is finished. Whereas, in reality, houses are not selling, and it is unlikely that the situation will change in the next five years. A more realistic timetable would be ten years, and therefore the people of Ash, Ash Green and Tongham can look forward to ten years of noise, ten years of additional traffic problems due to lorries, 10 years of thick mud for miles along the roads because they are trying to build on a bog.

Their proposed main access to the Proposed Development during construction will be via Ash Lodge Drive. Hundreds of heavy lorries going in and out of a busy junction with Manor Road, close to the entrance to one of the largest schools in the Borough. In addition this junction is already disintegrating through lack of maintenance, and heavy lorries will make it impassable for cars. Of course, conveniently, they are not able to identify how many lorries will be coming and going from the site each day according to Barton Willmore.

They also state in Point 9.82 "Application Site traffic will be signposted to avoid unsuitable areas wherever possible, routes will be signed, there will be no waiting on the network and disruption will be kept to a minimum. Where in two villages with narrow roads can you avoid unsuitable areas. Anyone who believes this must be gullible.

There are proposed improvements to the Greyhound roundabout. All this appears to do is widen the entrance to the roundabout when approaching from Manor Road. How this will improve the current traffic issues is questionable, the issue is with traffic volumes from Manor Road not being able to join the roundabout due to the amount of traffic coming from Ash Street, two lanes entering from Manor Road will make little difference.

The proposals for the access road to the new site at Ash Lodge Drive will make for a dangerous corner given the lack of sight lines into the rest of Ash Lodge Drive when leaving the new development. Ash Lodge Drive is already used as a rat run, the extra cars will make it worse for all.

Surrey CC guidelines (Surrey Design – A Strategic guide for quality built environments) state:

3.4.2 There is a tendency for drivers to stop in a position that obstructs vehicles turning right into the non-priority road at ‘T’ junctions which are not formed at right angles. At priority junctions therefore, roads should meet nearly at right angles (within 10° of 90°) unless the non-priority road serves more than 100 dwellings in which case the roads should meet at 90°.
In such circumstances, the non-priority road should be straight for twice the length of the junction radius.

In this case the non-priority road is the rest of Ash Lodge Drive and is straight for the length of the junction radius not twice the length as recommended.

Again from the guidelines

3.4.3 Junction spacing is not restricted where traffic speed is less than 20mph and roads serve less than 100 dwellings subject to adequate visibility to maintain safety. Roads serving between 100 and 300 dwellings should have a junction spacing of at least 30 metres, on either side of the priority road.

In the design plans the distance between Ash Lodge Drive (remaining) and Avon Close is clearly much less than 30 meters.

Access to the South Lane entrance is already problematic. Traffic coming from the Greyhound roundabout has to negotiate a right turn on a blind left hand bend, and then a sharp right into South Lane. South Lane is already narrow and used as a rat run for traffic using Ash Lodge Drive. Adding the extra traffic will lead to more accidents. This will only be compounded if the move of the Co-Op store to the old Police Station is approved due to increased parking in the road and traffic entering / leaving the new store.

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