With all the houses being built in Farnham and Bordon, a western relief road MUST be put back on the table – that’s according to the Conservative candidate for the new Farnham and Bordon constituency.
Greg Stafford is poised to pick up the Tory mantle from MP Jeremy Hunt at the next general election, and has wasted no time in making the bypass a core campaign pledge.
In an exclusive Q&A to be printed in full next week, Mr Stafford described current Surrey County Council-led plans to increase congestion in the town centre in favour of an ‘improved pedestrian experience’ as “bonkers”.
He took particular aim at the ‘temporary’ pandemic planters in Downing Street, saying: “I can understand why they put them in for Covid, and they do look pretty with the flowers. But it just adds to the congestion.”
And on the need for a new Farnham bypass, he added; “If this town wants to grow, it can’t cope with both the traffic that needs to come in and the traffic that needs to pass through. We need to get the Wrecclesham and western bypasses back on the table, and fast.”
Mr Stafford has also made his views clear in leaflets put through letterboxes this month.
Have we been here before though?
A fresh-faced Jeremy Hunt made pedestrianisation a core pledge in his early election campaigns – and now, some two decades later, his successor as Farnham’s Tory parliamentary hopeful has put the bypasses at the heart of his own.
Under current Farnham Infrastructure Programme proposals, it looks as though Mr Hunt’s pedestrianisation dreams may never be realised – with the programme instead progressing plans for wider pavements, a 20mph limit and scrapping of some parts of the one-way system in the town centre.
Meanwhile, the western and Wrecclesham bypasses – believed to be an essential first step towards pedestrianisation – are currently filed in the programme's “long-term” category.
But Mr Stafford hopes with a mandate from the Farnham & Bordon electorate behind him, he will be able to convince the programme to shift the bypasses from the backburner to the forefront of action.
“Farnham has literally hundreds of listed buildings and other features. This is a mixed blessing, of course,” he wrote in his first leaflet to voters.
“The protected buildings give the town its unique character, but restrict the ability to improve movement and traffic flows within the town.
“There’ve been lots of initiatives over the years but, as the current Farnham Infrastructure Programme has found, without more road capacity there are limits to what we can do.
“The ‘temporary’ measures to create a single lane of traffic in Downing Street aren’t popular as they result in longer queues in and around the area with all the costs and environmental impact that brings.
“I hope the Infrastructure Programme will eventually deliver some benefits but the only real solution to congestion is to take through traffic out of the town centre.
“With all the development in and around both Bordon and Farnham, I’m going to work to get the western relief road, together with the Wrecclesham bypass, back on the table again.”
Mr Stafford is the first political candidate from any party to be selected to contest the next general election in Farnham and Bordon, which must be called by January 2025 at the latest.