As the construction plans for the Victoria Arch widening scheme have progressed, technical surveys and modelling have evidenced that the existing location of the Downside Goods Yard access road (located on the south-side of the Guildford Road and next to the Victoria Arch railway bridge) is integral to the project's delivery.
As part of the widening scheme works, we are investigating proposals to:
- reuse the existing goods yard access road, and
- relocate the access road from its existing location to Bradfield Close, just off York Road.
The access road's relationship with the Victoria Arch widening scheme
The Victoria Arch widening scheme, funded by central government, will deliver key strategic outcomes for town centre communities and the council. The scheme is central to our wider plans to provide enhanced access to an attractive and user friendly town centre.
When complete, it will provide additional road capacity, reduced air pollution, safer access for pedestrian and cycle journeys, and more reliable bus journeys. Ultimately, it will significantly contribute to our long-term sustainable transport measures, deliver our requirement to unlock town centre sites for much needed housing and strengthen Woking’s vibrant business economy.
These future benefits will be achieved by a series of highway enhancements on both the north and south sides of the arch. The new carriageway will provide seamless travel through this part of the town centre and better access underneath the railway and to the railway station for cyclists and pedestrians.
In addition, the scheme offers Network Rail with the rare window of opportunity to replace the ageing Victoria Arch railway bridge, renewing the railway infrastructure in Woking which are essential for the vitality and sustainability of the rail network.
Given these factors, we have taken on the additional responsibility for reusing or relocating the access road as part of the widening scheme. These works include:
- conducting in-depth technical surveys to review relocation options for the access road
- consulting with and supporting affected residents
- drafting and submitting planning applications, and
- subject to planning approval, delivering the approved plan of works.
Why we are considering relocating the existing access road
Currently, the Downside Goods Yard access road is situated on a busy stretch of the A320, within 25 metres of the highway running underneath the Victoria Arch railway bridge. This location requires all site vehicles to enter the access road from the south and to exit onto the A320 in the northbound direction.
The access road is frequently used by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and articulated lorries which, due to the access road’s and main highway’s space constraints, are required to cut across the public carriageway to enter and exit the site.
These actions cause regular traffic congestion, damage to the pedestrian footways and the central pedestrian crossing. More seriously, this unsatisfactory arrangement significantly increases the risk of side impact accidents to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.
To allow for the new railway bridge’s construction and widen highway with increased height capacity, the existing road level must be lowered by 1.2 metres. This involves significant excavation works to keep the access road’s gradient at a safe angle for HGV use and hugely impacts on major underground utility services, such as telephone, internet, gas, water, etc.
Additional challenges include:
- The need for new traffic control measures at this junction which will slow and stop traffic flow.
- Reduces the objective of improved and safer pedestrian and cyclist flow across the access road.
- The site is safeguarded by the Surrey County Council Minerals Plan 2011 Core Strategy Development Plan Document and access to this site must be maintained.
To complete this work, we need to close the current access road and create a temporary access via Bradfield Close, just off York Road. This will include traffic restrictions to ensure HGVs using this access only do so via the Guildford Road junction. This proposal will be submitted to the local planning authority in autumn 2022.
Proposals for a permanent access to the aggregates yard
As part of our engagement activities, local residents had raised significant concerns about the council’s proposals to seek a new access to the goods yard via York Road. The concerns raised include the loss of residential properties, highway safety, noise and dust issues.
Taking into consideration residents’ and stakeholders’ feedback, the Victoria Arch project team has been investigating options to revise the design of temporary and permanent access roads serving the goods yard in order to reduce the impact on affected parties. In addition, the team are revisiting the design of the road works and bridge to review how the current access to the goods yard could be reused once the project’s construction works have finished.
These works have been influenced by our one to one engagement with local residents, the goods yard’s landowner (Network Rail) and its tenant (Day Aggregates).
Further investigative studies have confirmed that there is no alternative option available for a temporary access to the aggregates site during the bridge construction work. This means our temporary access road proposal via Bradfield Close remains the only viable option.
The need to find a permanent access road solution remains challenging. However, following the feedback received, the project team have revisited the options to reuse and reopen the existing site access to the goods yard once the road and bridge works are completed.
The reuse of the current access on a permanent basis presents significant challenges. To redevelop the existing access road, extensive engineering work is required to meet the new lowered highway level underneath the bridge, provide a safe junction for all road users, relocate and accommodate the vital utilities exchanges located underneath the main highway, and reinforce the railway embankment.
Ahead of any planning application submission, the project team will assess the wider planning impact of the plans on the surrounding residential streets. These considerations include:
- A heavy goods vehicle (HGV) restriction strategy to introduce highway weight limits to prevent HGV vehicles using the surrounding residential roads.
- A review of the on-street parking on York Road, between Guildford Road and Bradfield Close, to allow sufficient road width for all users.
- Road surfacing requirements on York Road, between Guildford Road and Bradfield Close, which support HGV movements and keep the road in good condition.
As part of the final planning applications, the contractor surveys, results and considerations will be included.
The applications and associated documents will be available for review and comment from members of the public during the statutory public consultation period.
Pre-planning resident engagement
In July 2021, we wrote to over 500 residents in York Road, Bradfield Close, Waverley Court and Montgomery Road to advise them of proposals to relocate the existing Downside Goods Yard access road. The direct engagement was targeted at residents who may be directly affected by the future proposals and requested residents to submit their feedback about the plans.
During a four-week engagement period held from Monday 26 July to Monday 20 August 2021, we hosted one to one sessions with residents from 24 households.
The sessions provided local residents with the opportunity to find out more about the proposals and to put forward their feedback and ask questions.
To keep affected residents up to date, a meeting was organised on Tuesday 22 February where the portfolio holder and project officers provided a project update to 80 attendees.
Questions and answers raised by local residents have also been published in advance of the meeting.
About the planning process
The final planning applications is likely to be submitted to the Woking Borough planning authority in autumn 2022.
Following receipt of the applications, the local planning authority will conduct a formal public consultation with affected residents. During this time, residents, businesses and any other interested parties will be able to review the planning applications and submit comments via the online planning portal.
As part of the statutory planning process, residents and businesses surrounding the proposed sites will be informed of the planning applications by post, including how to comment.
Additionally, public notices will be published in the Woking News and Mail, on the Woking Borough public notices section of this website and displayed around the proposed sites.
To contact us about the project, please complete our online enquiry form.