Air Quality in Oxshott High Street

It should be possible for more Danes Hill pupils to walk to school safely. If a second pedestrian crossing were added to Oxshott High Street near Danes Hill, this should enable more to walk to school safely.  This should also reduce rush-hour traffic and air pollution. Danes Hill School and other local schools have been urging parents not to drive their children to school. An extra pedestrian crossing will help. Danes Hill School is expanding, as our local population grows.  This crossing will only become more necessary over the coming years.

If if were legally possible for 44 ton lorries to be banned from Oxshott High Street, this would help to reduce traffic and reduce air pollution.  Oxshott High Street was never intended as a link between the M25 and the A3. This might be difficult to achieve, but options for ways forward might be considered.  It will take a reasonable amount of time for the newly designed A3/M25 link near Cobham to be agreed and constructed. Until it is finished, the traffic problems in Oxshott High Street will only increase.

If Oxshott High Street traffic is to be managed more effectively, the first step should be to measure the air quality.  If the air quality is measured, it should be clearer that improvements are needed to traffic management. Traffic management in Oxshott High Street should then become a higher priority.

 A written request sent by a local resident to the local Surrey County Councillor to begin air quality monitoring unfortunately received no response.  

Many residents are aware of a local residents’ petition to improve the traffic management and closely related question of air traffic management in Oxshott High Street.  This petition was submitted to the local Conservative Surrey County Councillor. Only one of the several well-researched recommendations from that petition were implemented.  Since this petition which was submitted several years ago, the problems have only accerbated. More needs to be done.

Where Charlwood Drive meets Oxshott High Street, there is a very uneven surface of the road.  When heavy vehicles cross this little patch of Oxshott High Street, lots of noise and vibration result.  Those who live in nearby homes feel these vibrations and hear the noise. This small patch of Oxshott High Street might need replacement.

Back to Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke issues

Cycling in Oxshott, Fairmile and Stoke

CyclingEvery time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.  H G. Wells

Cllr John O’Reilly, who represents Hersham at Surrey and is also the chair of Surrey Elmbridge Local Committee, is known as a cyclist and is keen to make cycling safer in Elmbridge.  To do so, would require a vision of what we would want to achieve over time and a strategy to get us there.

The Liberal Democrats in Elmbridge want to pursue the the aim of making cycling safer to reduce air pollution, congestion and to help people become healthier.  Cycling also supports the local retail economy and makes our towns and villages stronger communities through the increase in serendipitous meetings.

Vision  An Elmbridge of physically, mentally and spiritually healthy people of all ages enjoying fresh air and a high quality of life.

Mission To enable all the people of Elmbridge – who wish to do so – to cycle safely.

Strategy
To achieve our mission our strategy is based on our being:

  • Utilitarian. We focus on a person’s ability to cycle from home to the key places that make their life work: their school or workplace, their station, their town centre. Therefore routes to these places are dealt with first.
  • Network based. We understand that the benefits are far greater if networks are created.  It is little use to have a safe stretch that suddenly ends in a dangerous spot – like Blundel Lane Bridge
  • Inclusive.  We bring as many agencies, organisations and groups and people together to compound the benefits and spread the message.
  • Incremental. Although we have a clear and ambitious vision we know that many small steps made by many people eases the journey
  • Anticipatory. We take advantage of possible opportunities that might arise by anticipating requirements before they occur
  • Communicative. We engage with everyone and keep them informed
  • Sustainable. We strive to be socially and environmentally sustainable in everything that we do.

What would you like to see in a cycling strategy?

The Dutch and Danes developed a comprehensive approach over many decades.  A good place to begin is to help secondary students below the age of seventeen to feel safe enough (along with their parents)  to cycle to school.  Yet on cycling out of Reeds School there is little evidence that cycling is a serious possibility.  Everything else being equal student who cycle achieve more than those who are driven to school.

When we see most parents cycling with their children to primary school rather than driving – like the Dutch and Danes – then we will know we’d have cracked it.  It is much quicker to cycle than walk – although walking can be fun too.

Blundels Lane Bridge

The By-election Conservative Manifesto says:

Improve Blundel Lane Railway Bridge: This vital link is a major hazard for pedestrians, cyclists and riders. As a first step, I will press for a feasibility study to be conducted to examine options for improving access and safety for all users of this bridge. 

This bridge has been like this for decades – although the road surface has deteriorated recently.  Funny how the Conservatives only noticed it after the Liberal Democrats mentioned it in a recent Focus after talking to people on the doorstep.

CIL – your FAQs

It sounds like there is CIL money every year.  Does it have to be spent in that year?
No.  The CIL is like a bank account.  Before a development may begin the CIL is paid into the account.  From this account, projects are paid for.  Spend less one year and their is more to spend in future.

Does every council ask local organisations to bid for CIL funds for projects?
Some boroughs have decided to develop their own strategy for spending the CIL.  They would allocate the fund between their key objectives: say, health, safety or social housing.

What is meant by the term infrastructure – what is ‘in’ and what is not?
As more houses, offices and shops are built we need more clinics, schools, ways of dealing with traffic and more leisure facilities.  This is the infrastructure.  The CIL enables boroughs to pay for it.  Otherwise boroughs would have to use Council Tax.

Why don’t you use CIL to mend the potholes?
The CIL is designed to fund new infrastructure: new facilities for schools, new zebra crossings, extra health provision, traffic calming etc. Pot holes occur when the roads have not been maintained properly.

Who decides if any project is an acceptable project? 
In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decision relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committees across the Borough; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Weybridge Riverside, Weybridge St George’s Hill and Oatlands.

Are there criteria for selecting and approving bids?
Any organisation may go online and complete an application form for a CIL grant.  Currently all applications are presented to the relevant body for decision.  This can mean that many applications are totally unsuited for CIL. The criteria used for local CIL bids are:

  1. Does the project address impacts created by new development?
  2. Does the project provide wider community benefit: beyond just the benefits to the organisation submitting the application?
  3. Can the applicant deliver the project?  Does it have planning permission?  Is the landowner on board?  Are the costing realistic?
  4. Evidence of additional resources (people or money) available from partners to complement funding.

Are projects ever excluded?
Not at present.  The problem is that some projects are put forward without the permission of the landowner, without sufficient detail for plans, or without suitable quotes and costing. However a grant should not be given if the project is too small – for example for a kettle.  There are other borough grants for such projects.

What projects have received CiL funding in the past five years?
Around £2m of facilities for school across the borough, a walking bridge in Molesey. Manby Lodge Infant School quickly installed additional surfacing for all weather outdoor play space. Heathside Secondary School has installed much needed additional cycle parking. The Broadwater Path was completed over the summer of 2017. The Thames Landscape Strategy works at Weybridge Point – the car park at the end of Thames street – should be delivered in May 2018.  Significant preparatory work has been carried out on the Weybridge Streetscene project – outside Waitrose and up to the corner with Elmgrove Road..

Who makes the decision to fund or not to fund a project?
Councillors.  In Elmbridge the CIL is broken into three parts: The “Reserve pot”, for big projects that might become necessary over the medium term; the “Strategic pot”, for projects that could only be justified on an Elmbridge-wide basis; and, local pot, for projects relating to each of the nine towns in the borough.  Decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” are decided on by the cabinet; those relating to the “Strategic pot” are decided by the chairs of the planning committee and the leader; and, the local pot is decided by the councillors in that town. For CIL proposes Weybridge consists of three wards Riverside, Oatlands and  Burwood Park and St George’s Hill.

How are these people held to account for their decisions?
The local CIL meetings are in public and their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which is also meets in public. The decisions relating to the “Reserve pot” and “Strategic pot” are taken in private but their recommendations are passed to cabinet, which meets in public.  It is rare for cabinet to overturn a decision by the CIL committees.  If a councillor wishes they may ask that a cabinet decision is reconsidered by the full council.

When is the next local CIL meeting for Weybridge?

The meeting – called the Local Planning Board meeting – is at 7.00 on Thursday, 15th March, that is this coming Thursday. It is a public meeting.

If you have other questions do contact us.

Potholes

Here is an answer to removing potholes from the highway.  Seven Hills Road could be done in one night.

Here is a version with a roller.

Here is a version that cuts and seals too.

Seven Hills Road potholes could be repaired in the early hours (2am to 4am)  – except one or two of the potholes are caused by fallen drain covers, they would have to be lifted first.

Ultimately, Surrey county needs to be in a position to return to a full highway maintenance programme.

Cinema

The Elmbridge Liberal Democrat/Residents’ coalition put forward a proposal for the conversion of the Weybridge Hall into a cinema with flats above.  This was agreed by the council on 19 April this last.

Since our last report the cinema operator has been agreed and a planning application has been made.

Arts cinema would be a great addition to the evening economy with people typically adding a meal or drinks to the occasion and ample parking is available directly opposite.

One of the key aspects of the design is to ensure that the acoustics are perfect not just for the cinema goers but for the residents above and the neighbours surrounding the development.

Another aspect is the parking.  Minorca Road is a small cul de sac in the town centre.  It has had controlled parking for a number of years.  However, recently Surrey county has introduced free parking for non-permit holders for up to one hour.  This has had a detrimental affect on residents’ parking.

When Surrey county ran its recent parking review in Weybridge I had recommended that Minorca Road along with Limes Road had its controlled parking extended into the evening up to 10pm. However, a compromise time of 8pm was offered and in the final round Surrey county withdrew the offer.  Although the Conservatives still run the county administration I hope that we can persuade county to make the change in the next review.

Parking and New Developments

Granting planning permissions to applications with insufficient parking has become a big issue in recent years.  The picture above shows office parking which could soon become gardens for four-bedroomed houses – leaving little space for parking cars.

Although I have campaigned on this since becoming a borough councillor, it has taken me a while to persuade my Conservative party colleagues that has the power to stop such developments if it chooses to do so.

The convention was that as Surrey county is the highway authority for Elmbridge if county decides that a planning application has no significant impact on transport and if that was the only reason for refusal then the borough would have to permit the development.

My contention is that Surrey county only considers two aspects: highway safety; and, impact on congestion.  The third aspect: parking is considered by county to be a borough concern.

Yet my committee often voted to permit planning applications that clearly had significant, if not severe, impact on the availability to park locally.

Recently two planning applications have come before the borough’s south area planning sub-committee (which serves Weybridge) which, if permitted, could create further demand for on-street parking in areas of particular parking stress.  The first application was for a reduction in off-street parking for the conversion offices into four proposed four-bedroomed houses in Thames Street; and the second was, again, the conversion of offices into flats in Baker Street.  In both cases I proposed that the applications be refused on parking grounds and fortunately my colleagues agreed.

Wisley Junction Improvements

In 2017, Highways England held a consultation on improvements to Junction 10 (where the A3 meets the M25 near Cobham. The improvements are needed as there are long queues at peak hours (where traffic joins and leaves the M25) and a high level of accidents. The consultation favoured two options:

  • OPTION 14: high level flyovers taking traffic from the A3 over the existing roundabout and onto the M25 to Heathrow and over the top to the M25 heading to the east.
  • OPTION 9: a replacement for the existing roundabout to provide higher capacity. Highways England chose Option 14, but has made enhancements in response to views which arose from the consultation.

It has enhanced its new roundabout scheme and provided dedicated left turns onto and off the M25. They have avoided the need to take land from RHS Wisley and have enhanced the traffic flow off the A3 at the Painshill junction.

This scheme aims to alleviate long queues, reduce accidents and encourage traffic from the north to use the A3 and the improved junction instead of cutting through Weybridge, Cobham and Esher. The construction is planned to start in 2020/21.

Find out more

Grenside Road unsafe for children and residents

Grenside Road residents are concerned for safety in the area behind St George’s Junior School. Local resident Sarah Groves has written to her SCC councillor saying: “Since the Junior School’s ‘Kiss and Drop’ system was put in place there has been an increase in the volume of traffic on Grenside – parents are now approaching the School via Grenside from Grotto Road and from Thames Street via Convent Lane and then onto Grenside. This at peak times causes chaos especially when there is nowhere to turn safely as Grenside Road is effectively a cul-de-sac. The whole fabric of the road and pavements has deteriorated due to the high volume of traffic with vehicles turning and reversing onto pavements – churning the surface up with their SUVs.”

She adds: “There is no traffic management system in place i.e. parking restrictions, speed limit signs, nor in fact the triangular signs showing children crossing; and the rear entrance/exit of the school has no clear yellow zigzags, that are outside every other school where children enter and leave.”

Despite efforts of local Elmbridge councillors and strong lobbying by Lib Dem Cllr Andrew Davis to have Grenside Road included in the Surrey County Council (SCC) Strategic Review of parking in Weybridge, SCC refused to budge from their original view and Grenside was excluded from consideration.

16 January SCC conducted a Road Safety on Outside Schools Assessment.  We’ll report on its outcome.