Frenches Road traffic updates

Frenches Road Bus GateResidents in the vicinity of the northern end of Frenches Road should have received a letter from Surrey County Council (SCC) at the end of May notifying an “experimental traffic order” to suspend (i.e. open) the bus gates between Elmwood Road and Fairhaven Road. (If you didn’t receive a copy, you can download one here.)

The order was due to start on 28th May, and as you probably know, right on cue, with brisk, no-nonsense efficiency, SCC lowered the gates at the end of May.

Except, of course, that’s not really what happened…

Several residents informed us that the gates had been open for a few days from the end of May, leading them to believe the experimental opening had started on time, but that they were closed again a week or so later. SCC provided no information on this apparent change of plan to either residents or local councillors.

We have now managed to obtain a statement from the SCC Highways Department, which attempts to clarify the situation:

“Unfortunately the trial suspension of the bus gate has not yet commenced. The dates given in the letter to residents were always going to be indicative and there has been a delay in starting the trial whilst a safety audit is carried out on the proposed priority give-way working at the bus gate. As soon as I have received the audit report I will make any necessary changes to the drawing and get the works ordered. The experimental TRO is in place and is valid for 18 months, which gives plenty of time to carry out the trial and report back to committee for a decision on whether or not to make the trial permanent.

It is unfortunate that a recent fault with the bollards meant that they were stuck in the down position. This has now been rectified and the bollards will continue to be operational until the trial starts. The signing associated with the bollards is still in place and will remain so until the start of the trial.”

We understand that SCC will need to change the priority at the junction with Fairhaven Road, which was something which could have been anticipated (indeed we did point it out). The above statement does not give any indication of how quickly they intend to do this – the bit about ‘valid for 18 months’ does not suggest any urgency! It is very unfortunate that SCC have chosen not to make this information more generally available to affected residents.

We will continue to ask questions of SCC and will let residents know if we hear anything more definite.

Of course, the ongoing saga of the bus gates is not the only traffic problem in the area. Frenches Road is affected by a number of interconnected traffic and parking difficulties. The roads in north Redhill just can’t handle today’s volume of cars, vans and lorries – much increased in recent years by the new developments at Water Colour and Park 25, and intensification within the Holmethorpe Industrial Estate.

When development of the Water Colour estate was first planned, it was intended that there would be a new north-south link road through the industrial estate to help address these problems, but only the northern section was built. Last week, an application for planning permission for new industrial units in Trowers Way on the route of the proposed road was refused, after Green Councillor Sarah Finch supported local traders and residents to oppose the plans.

We will keep pressing for SCC to look more widely at the traffic problems in the Frenches Road area, and have asked them to arrange a public meeting so that residents’ views can be taken into account.

Resurfacing of Frenches Road

A brief footnote on the proposed resurfacing of Frenches Road, which several residents have been asking us about recently.

The most recent information we have from SCC (dated 18th June) is that the resurfacing of Frenches Road is planned to take place during this financial year, but that a start date has yet to be determined.

However, on Friday, a resident kindly informed us that signs have gone up along Frenches Road indicating that the road will be closed for repairs for two days…from Monday. If these repairs are the promised resurfacing, this is of course excellent news for residents. But once again, neither residents nor ourselves were given any advance notice, which is not entirely satisfactory.

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