Farnham faces months – and possibly years – of road closures and traffic jams as utility companies scramble to accommodate the hundreds of new homes being built in the area, Farnham Town Council's joint leader David Beaman has warned.
Rolling road closures are to come into effect in West Street, between Crondall Lane and Coxbridge Farm, on Monday, January 23 – severing the link between Farnham town centre and Coxbridge roundabout.
These will last approximately 14 weeks, while South East Water undertakes work to lay a new 2km water main to meet the growing demand for water arising from new developments – as reported in more detail here.
But in a letter to the Herald, printed on Page 19 of this week's paper, Cllr Beaman warns the roadworks could be the tip of the iceberg, with further works required by Thames Water “to improve the facilities for disposal of sewerage from the new residential developments”.
These include, but are certainly not limited to, the proposed 320 new homes for which outline planning permission has been approved at Coxbridge Farm.
Cllr Beaman argues that the South East Water and Thames Water works should have been combined, and has expressed disappointment that Surrey County Council, as the highway authority, did not consult with local ward councillors on how to minimise the effects of these road closures on residents and businesses.
He said: "Whilst this improvement in infrastructure, which is costing South East Water £1 million, is to be welcomed, Surrey County Council have not made any attempt to discuss with both myself and Cllr George Hesse as local ward councillors the effects of the consequential road closures on the residents and businesses on West Street that we represent."
As part of he pipeline works, West Street will be subject to a three phase rolling road closure with the first section of road to be closed being between Mead Lane and Crondall Lane, a second phase being between Crondall Lane and Crosby Way, and a third phase being between Crosby Way and Coxbridge roundabout (for details see www.southeastwater/farnham).
"The net effect," added Cllr Beaman, "being to prevent through traffic from using West Street for a period of three months.”
He continued: "A Traffic Regulation Order covering the two closures between Mead Lane and Crosby Way was only made by Surrey County Council on December 14 without any consultation.
"West Street is one of the main roads in Farnham and one would have thought that some time could have been spent discussing with local ward councillors how the effects of these road closures could have been minimised and communicated."
Cllr Beaman praised South East Water for attempting to keep the public informed, with a public exhibition being held on December 8 at Farnham Memorial Hall, and added they have no alternative to closing West Street "in order to improve the water supply infrastructure".
But he said "the same cannot be said of Surrey County Council who have completely failed to advise the local community of the highway consequences".
In particular, Cllr Beaman said concerns raised by residents attending the public exhibition over the proposed temporary access off West Street, to provide a work site associated with the laying of the new water main, "appear to have been totally ignored".
"One of the conditions of the Traffic Regulation Order state that 'no works to facilitate the installation of a new water main shall commence unless and until the proposed temporary vehicular construction access onto West Street has been constructed and provided' yet the required planning permission has not, so far, yet been given by Waverley Borough Council," he continued.
But "of greater concern", he said, "is the fact that we might have to go through this all over again when Thames Water seek to improve the facilities for disposal of sewerage from the new residential developments that are taking place".
Cllr Beaman concluded: "Thames Water have advised that the existing infrastructure is only capable of dealing with 160 new homes at Coxbridge Farm so further infrastructure work will be required if the planned development of 320 new homes is ever to be realised.
"Would it not have been better for the work that will inevitably be required to be undertaken by Thames Water to have taken place at the same time as the work that is about to commence by South East Water so that any inconvenience to residents and businesses along West Street could be minimised?"
The Herald has approached Surrey County Council for a comment.