A couple of us from the Farnham Society attended the Farnham Infrastructure Board meeting as mute members of the public.

We were looking forward to hearing the updates from the March FIB meeting. We have been active in our contributions to the traffic schemes being proposed and are glad Option B has been largely agreed. The hybrid idea came from one of our distinguished members. 

We spent some time considering the East Street and the Royal Deer junction in consultation with Robert Mansfield. He studied our proposal and in his opinion it was workable. 

We have expressed on a number of occasions our frustration at the length of time progress is taking. We, the residents of Farnham, are also somewhat frustrated that after so many meetings, so many years and cost of consultants, that all we have on the ground for the man or woman in the street to show for it, are some un-asked for ‘wayfinding totems’ and an unenforceable 7.5-tonne ban on trucks on Castle Street.

What is of particular disappointment is the shelving of Option Y, the last possible semi-pedestrianised chance we had for Farnham.

So why has Option Y been shelved?

Talking after the meeting to officers, they said their reports were confined to modelling traffic and traffic only. Not weighing other benefits against the traffic.

Changing the existing Woolmead Road to two way, so the modelling reports, doesn’t allow for optimum passing or meeting head on of articulated and large vehicles (should this ever occur) from passing on corners and that land would need to be purchased from the vacant Berkley Homes site to allow for these vehicle sweeps, a purchase they thought would not happen.

Farnham Society's vision for a semi-pedestrianising of East Street and the Woolmead in detail
Farnham Society's vision for a semi-pedestrianising of East Street and the Woolmead in detail (Yolande Hesse)

Never one to give up hope, I have written to Berkley Homes asking if they would sell some of their land to make this possible. How could there not be a better time to do this, as their site sits there year after year vacant?

Even if they respond but refuse to sell off some land, although the road layout is not optimum (so many of the roads in Britain are not), at least when weighed against benefits of semi-pedestrianising East Street, it is an acceptable option.

Importantly, what the traffic modelling was not able to take into consideration and weigh up were the benefits that don’t apply to traffic – such as the benefit to the access of Brightwells Yard which has been invested in by Surrey County Council ratepayers. 

The benefits to the people of Farnham having one public road space not dominated by vehicles. 

The benefits to the shop and retail sector, attracting footfall to the east end of the town. Surely these were the goals of the FIP?

The FIP considers the issues facing the town and how they can be addressed, with the goal of helping Farnham become a better, more environmentally friendly place for those who live, work, study in, or visit the town.

We live in hope.

By Yolande Hesse

Chair of the Farnham Society’s planning committee