During the election campaign many residents have asked what is happening about infrastructure with all these houses being built, so I thought I would try and update you on some of the work going on both at borough and county levels.
The main issue running through Woking is the A320 and the main pinch point in Victoria Arch. We have a bid into Homes England for a bid of over £100m, this will enable us to widen the arch to four lanes plus additional capacity for cyclist and pedestrians. We will also plan to make addition road improvements to the south of the arch and up towards Constitution Hill which will improve the ease of traffic approaching and leaving the town.
There will also be improvements to the dual carriage way to the north of the arch and past the town centre. I know there is disruption during the building works but when Victoria Square is completed Victoria Way will also have improvements that will also improve the traffic flow.
The A320 as a whole has now been added to the new Major Roads Network scheme and the government will be releasing further funds for improvements to this network which will also improve the roads in and out of Woking. There are also additional Homes England’s bids in for improvements to the area around the Ottershaw Roundabout to St Peters Hospital and also Slyfield in Guildford.
Although the Red car park is closed it will be quickly rebuilt and will include an additional two levels as part of Victoria Square and there will be a new Green car park. Once these are completed we also have plans to expand Heathside Road car park and Victoria Way.
The widening of Victoria Arch will not only improve the road network, but it will also improve the rail service to Woking. Currently there are two networks that merge just south of Woking and trains have to give way which limits the flow. The widening of the arch will allow an addition rail to run across it and Network Rail have plans to build a train bridge before the arch, so the two networks can merge, the station will be widened to allow fast trains to pass through without impacting on the station, this will increase the capacity for more trains to stop at Woking. There are also improvements planned between Woking and Waterloo which will also allow additional train movements and improve the service.
Buses and sustainable transport
Although it’s not Surrey’s duty to provide buses, we currently spend around £12m in supporting non-commercial routes in Surrey that either link communities or support children getting to school, and there are no plans to cut this spend. What we are doing is looking at how people get about, we have employed a company to look at Surrey and how better connections either bus, cycling or walking would encourage people to leave their cars at home and use alternative transport models. They are also looking at the routes we do sponsor to see if instead of large buses on these routes we could use smaller alternatives.
It is not the boroughs duty to supply school places and the county no longer has the power to open new schools as this must be done by a free school, the county can only increase the capacity at current locations to meet the need.
Although not its duty, Woking Borough Council took the proactive approach to support a bid from a free school to open a new secondary school in Woking as part of this new school there are new leisure facilities for the growing population of Woking.
Again, neither local authority’s duty, but again Woking Borough Council has been proactive, and as part of Victoria Square they have planned new health facilities and they are in negotiations to make sure these are run again for the increasing population.
Surrey County Council is also proactively leading a joint approach to health, we are working towards an integrated care system which will include the local hospitals, doctors and CCG to bring an improved and joined up approach to health in Surrey.
So, there is much work underway from both WBC and SCC to improve the infrastructure in Woking to support the developments taking place. Although we will try and limit the impact while this change is under way, we desperately need new infrastructure, so we need to suffer a little for our future and our children’s future.
Please be assured, Infrastructure is very much on the Agenda