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Significant Road Improvements Needed If Newlands Corner Development Goes Ahead

By Frank Phillipson

Much has been said about the proposed new larger building, additional parking, new coach parking and the family play trail at Newlands Corner. However, no one seems to have raised the point that the existing road access from the A25 is already inadequate, substandard and dangerous.

Driver view southeast from Newlands Corner access of A25 traffic.

Driver view southeast from Newlands Corner access of A25 traffic. Images from Google Streetview.

The A25 is classified by Surrey County Council as a Principal ‘A’ road forming part of the county’s Primary and Strategic Route Network. At this location, because of the bend, gradient and the lack of forward visibility, there are central double white lines prohibiting overtaking.

A25 Driver view north westwards to Newlands Corner access.

A25 Driver view north westwards to Newlands Corner access.

The A25 here is subject to a 60mph speed limit. At that speed a Minimum Stopping Sight Distance (SSD) or “Y” distance of 215 metres is required. Because of the gradient and sharp bend the 85th percentile speed (average speed) is probably about 50 mph which requires a SSD of 160 metres. Using various parameters, at present, the existing access has an average SSD of 110 metres.

Drivers of vehicles exiting the access to Newlands Corner have poor visibility of vehicles approaching them uphill from the south east and vice versa. This also applies to drivers of vehicles travelling toward Shere but wishing to turn right into the Newlands Corner car park. The right turning vehicles also have to wait in the one lane in this direction thus blocking following traffic.

Visibility distances from and of Newlands Corner access. Click to enlarge in a new window.

Visibility distances from and of Newlands Corner access. Click to enlarge in a new window.

Forward visibility distance for drivers of vehicles turning right into Newlands Corner.

Forward visibility distance for drivers of vehicles turning right into Newlands Corner. Click to enlarge in a new window.

There is also what I would term as the “view effect”. Southbound drivers on the A25 who are unfamiliar with the area, come to the crest of the hill and upon seeing the view and that there is a car park access, stop suddenly to turn in.

Driver view south approaching Newlands Corner.

Driver view south approaching Newlands Corner.

Of particular concern is the fact that the North Downs Way long-distance path and public bridleway official route crosses the A25 at the worst possible point for visibility of traffic.

Newlands Corner, aerial view showing particularly the North Downs Way crossing point.

Newlands Corner, aerial view showing particularly the North Downs Way crossing point.

In any planning application to intensify the use of an already deficient access, an applicant would be expected to carry out significant improvements and relocation. There seems to be no mention in any proposals for highway improvements to the Newlands Corner access.

As a former Surrey County Council Highway Engineer scrutinising the highway aspects of planning applications, I would recommend that and application should be refused unless appropriate improvements are put forward. These would be based on a traffic study carried out to establish existing traffic levels and projected future increased vehicle movements to and from Newlands Corner.

Currently Newlands Corner attracts an estimated 550,000 visitors per year with 122,000 vehicles using the site. I would suggest that this requires an access equivalent to a major/minor road junction as set out in the Highways Agency Design Note TD 42/95.

Parts of the improvements would be to include:

Moving the access point northwards away from the existing access.

Provision of appropriate sight lines.

Junction geometry to suit larger vehicles (coaches and possible delivery HGVs).

Provision of a right-hand turning lane.

Crossing provision for pedestrians and horse riders.

Diversion of the official route of the North Downs Way public footpath/bridleway from its present position to the crossing point.

And provision of appropriate fencing (rustic as at the railway bridge in Salt Box Road?) to help prevent pedestrians and horse riders crossing at the dangerous location.

Improvement of the junction would mean moving the access point northwards away from the crest of the hill to where visibility from and of the junction would be better. It would also be necessary to provide a right turning lane as a minimum requirement.

Sketch drawing of realigned access and RH Turning lane required for increased usage of Newlands Corner. Click to enlarge in a new window.

Sketch drawing of realigned access and RH Turning lane required for increased usage of Newlands Corner. Click to enlarge in a new window.

My preference would be for a small roundabout in the A25 midway between the Trodds Lane junction and the existing Newlands Corner access point. This would serve both Trodds Lane and a new point of access to Newlands Corner and would significantly slow down the traffic on the A25 and make access considerably easier and safer.

This layout would provide extra safety for vulnerable motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders. It would still be necessary to provide a pedestrian crossing point with a central island similar to that shown in the sketch proposal above for a right-hand turning lane.

Even if this proposed development does not go ahead, the access to Newlands Corner does need significant improvement.

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6 Responses to Significant Road Improvements Needed If Newlands Corner Development Goes Ahead

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    February 22, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Do those highway specifications still apply on a projection of traffic after ‘improvements’ and imposition of charges?

    As usual, this just demonstrates how in many proposals of their own, SCC (and GBC) pay little attention to a proper concept specification audit and miss many basic requirements leading to delays, estimate increases or even cancellation.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 23, 2016 at 8:23 am

    There is grave danger here that if the common sense submissions to The Guildford Dragon NEWS continue with this high quality of logic, ‘the Dragon’ will become the de facto knowledge base for both SCC and GBC.

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    February 23, 2016 at 9:28 am

    If it isn’t bad enough that SCC want to desecrate the much-loved and essentially simple area of Newlands Corner with unsightly and absurdly-placed buildings, basically blocking part of the view, for which people come there; creating a pointless children’s play-trail (aren’t trees, grassy slopes and bushes for games of hide and seek, enough for today’s youngsters?); together with the awful intention to encourage coach parties.

    Now there is a proposition to enlarge the road, with a roundabout and central reservations.

    They’ll be talking about street-lighting next, with the prospect of the wonderful dark landscape and star-watching possiblities lost forever.

    Shame on you SCC! Leave it alone!

    [Ed: It should be pointed out that the proposals in this story about road changes at Newlands Corner are what SCC should properly provide if the proposed development and increased use were to go ahead as highlighted by one of our readers and not a proposed plan by a local authority.]

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 23, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Wholeheartedly agree that the access requires improvement – even if the proposed redevelopment doesn’t go ahead.

    Not another flippin’ roundabout though! I’d be happier with the road widening and the dedicated right turn lane as per your last diagram.

  5. Mary Bedforth Reply

    February 27, 2016 at 9:53 am

    So much for Tory central and local government promotion of ‘localism’. Forget it.

    Newlands Corner: Council goes ahead with ‘unwanted’ changes.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-35672656

  6. John Phillipson Reply

    April 13, 2016 at 9:21 am

    An excellent article.

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