WE ARE being told the people of Farnham want a western bypass. That statement needs to be to be questioned, given I don’t recall any referendum being called on the subject.
I believe it will be concluded by most people who actually consider the pros and cons, that a western bypass will do nothing to reduce town-centre traffic, or come to that Hampshire traffic, and the negative environmental issues are almost too numerous to list.
A western bypass joined to the A287 at Beacon Hill would mean westbound traffic from the A325 would then have a better route through Upper Hale than the present one via the A31 bypass through. Far from being a panacea for Upper Hale, it introduces new traffic.
Amazingly, Farnham Town Council strongly supports a western bypass in priority over improvements to Hickleys Corner.
The logic of this needs to be seriously questioned. For a start, the problem of A287 traffic having to go through the town centre because it cannot turn right at Hickleys Corner would remain.
Another problem is the three-phase traffic lights and the level crossing causing tailbacks and gridlocks in the town centre. Any proposal that risks throwing more traffic on to the A31 without solving these problems is likely to fail an objective assessment.
How it has managed to pass an objective assessment applying the infrastructure plan’s own logic map is difficult to fathom.
Having asked for details of the metrics that supported the recommendation for a western bypass, I have been advised that “it scored low in terms of consideration of environmental, carbon (both embodied and emission related), air quality, and noise, alongside the potential for a scheme to improve transport connectivity, economic vitality, and community connection, in conjunction with a review of financial cost”.
It would be useful to open a debate on what “the people of Farnham” think would be the exceptional benefits that justify casually earmarking a major road scheme that wipes out Dippenhall/Runwick and Doras Green.
They must be extraordinary benefits indeed that outweigh not only the financial cost, but the environmental cost and destruction of important tracts of ancient woodland and areas of significant archaeological value.
Blaming Hampshire traffic using the A287 to access the M3 is a red herring. Use a satnav to get on to the M3 from anywhere in Hampshire and Farnham is the last place it takes you.
Take any route from Surrey to the south and east and it takes you up the A331.
Farnham has local traffic-flow problems, not a problem with the A287/A3016 being an A-road route.
Hickleys Corner needs an underpass with Station Hill re-modelled at the same time. As already said, this would allow traffic to access Frensham and Hindhead from the A31 without going through the town centre. It would also remove the tailbacks that clog South Street and cause gridlock.
Upper Hale has a local traffic problem. If all ideas are on the table and nothing is ruled out at this stage, then a northern relief road or a one-way system using Alma Lane come to mind more easily than a western bypass, with limited impact on the town, and enormous negative environmental impact.
* By Malcolm Delahaye
Burles Lodge, Dippenhall
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