RESIDENTS of Farnham are to be asked what they think should be done to tackle issues such as congestion and air quality – as part of a potential £240 million overhaul of the town and surrounding area’s out-dated and polluted road network.
At the first Farnham Board meeting late last month, members agreed it was essential to establish what matters to residents and their ideas for what improvements can be made.
Feedback will be used to create a 15-year programme.
Improvements to roads, and walking and cycling in the town centre, are among the areas being considered – with early estimates putting the funding sought for these works at a fee approaching £240m.
Plans to gather views will now be formed, including looking at ways to use video conferencing to receive feedback during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Farnham Board is chaired by the leader of Surrey County Council and also includes members of Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, as well as South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt.
The programme will start by looking at short-term improvements for central Farnham to make the town safer for pedestrians, such as reducing numbers of HGVs and speed limits.
It will be followed by looking at longer-term improvements in the area with an initial focus on Hickleys Corner and the integration of the new Brightwells development into the town centre.
Further issues like high traffic levels which impact Wrecclesham village will also be considered.
Tim Oliver, Tory leader of Surrey County Council, said: “We’re taking important steps to create a plan for Farnham which tackles the transport and pollution issues in the town.
"By working together as local government and with residents we can transform Farnham with improvements which will last for generations.
"But what’s most important is involving residents as much as we can and we’re looking at the best ways we can do that by establishing a local forum.”
John Ward, Farnham Residents leader of Waverley Borough Council, added: “I have to say the first meeting of this board went extremely well.
"It’s great that all councils, which are under the leadership of various political parties, are working together to help the town become fit for the future.
“It’s an exciting time for Farnham. The initial plans are really promising, and I think we can genuinely progress things for the benefit of the local community.
"I really am looking forward to hearing the views of those who live and work in the town and seeing their vision come to life over the coming stages of the project.”
Meanwhile, John Neale, Farnham Residents leader of Farnham Town Council, described the project as “a great step forward for Farnham”.
He continued: We have been working with Waverley and Surrey over the last year to find a way to resolve some of the difficult highways problems that the town has faced for many years. This new project now has the weight of Surrey behind it, so there will be a much better chance of creating proposals to attract the necessary investment from strategic partners and government. We will work hard with our local community to promote the aspirations of Farnham people.”
And Jeremy Hunt, Conservative MP for South West Surrey, said: “I’m encouraged by the amount of work that has been carried out by SCC’s Programme Management Team.
"There is now a real feeling of momentum and I am confident we will start to see results for Farnham – something I and residents have been calling for for years.”