There have been a lot of opinions expressed in the pages of the Herald recently about the future of walking and cycling routes in Farnham, so I wanted to start by explaining where we’re up to and what happens next – writes Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver.

So, the Farnham Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) was endorsed at the Farnham Board in March but there are now a few steps to go through before we can move on to the next stage and start engaging with people in the town. 

Firstly, both the Farnham and Waverley LCWIPs should shortly be formally adopted by Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for transport, infrastructure and growth – an important procedural step which unlocks funding for feasibility studies. 

Many more families were seen cycling through the empty streets of Farnham during the Covid lockdowns... (Farnham Cycling Campaign)
...but not so much recently – could the Farnham Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan change that? (Chris Chittock)

The amount of funding available for the studies is still being agreed. This will determine how many routes or zones can go into the first phase feasibility studies, which could then progress to detailed design and development. It won’t be all routes or zones straight away – the LCWIP is a ten-year strategy and as more funding becomes available, including from developer contributions, more routes or zones will be investigated and delivered.

We expect those first feasibility studies to get under way this summer. 

A Farnham Active Travel Working Group agreed at the Farnham Board will allow people in the town and all key stakeholders to be involved. This working group will play a key role in identifying local priorities for the first feasibility studies that will achieve the best benefits and that are deliverable. 

Once the feasibility studies are complete, the council will be ready to consider bids for government funding to make the plans a reality.

West Street is currently closed between Coxbridge roundabout and The Chantrys
West Street is currently closed between Coxbridge roundabout and Bourne Wood care home (Daniel Gee)

West Street

I hope traders in the town are taking up the offer of compensation from South East Water because of the extended water main works in West Street. While the county council is obliged to allow utility companies road space for their works, we do as much as we can to minimise the impact. 

This includes scheduling the works around other planned roadworks or collaborating with other utility works where possible, ensuring the least disruptive traffic management measures are used and setting conditions to minimise the disruption.

We will also use our new lane rental powers to levy a daily charge for the utility company’s occupation of the highway – we have daily charges in place for the West Street works to incentivise as swift a completion of works as possible.

We have seen very clearly the impact of the West Street works on the wider town, but of course would not have approved the road closure unless it was the only way these works could have been safely completed.

A section of the diagonal path across Farnham Park is slowly disappearing into a sinkhole
A section of the diagonal path across Farnham Park is slowly disappearing into a sinkhole (Catherine Powell)

Farnham Park

And finally, some advance warning of six weeks of path reconstruction in Farnham Park, to improve that key route from Upper Hale to the town centre. Work on the first section starts on June 5 and runs from Bear Lane to White Bottom South. The works will then move to the swallow hole to the Ranger’s House, and then to the end of the path at Nutshell Lane.

There will be a diversion, but it will be long as it has to follow accessible routes on pavements. If you choose an alternative route, please be mindful of protected areas in the park.