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Changes to pavement widening scheme

Row of parked cars in front of red bricked shops and businesses. Town centre

Statement from Councillor Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council, and Councillor John Neale, Leader of Farnham Town Council.

Farnham Town Council and Surrey County Council (SCC) met on 9th September to review the COVID‑19 pavement widening measures that have been in place in Farnham town centre since June.

These measures were put in place, at short notice, to respond to government guidelines for creating wider pavements in town centres, in order to assist in social distancing and queuing outside shops.

Whilst the Farnham scheme meets these objectives as best it can, we are conscious of the downsides of the current arrangement. Feedback from the community has told us that the scheme is unsightly and off-putting to our residents and visitors. Therefore, it’s not giving the full benefits we want the scheme to deliver.

The traffic problems recently seen in the town centre have been compounded by the unavoidable roadworks that were brought forward to the, expected, quieter period caused by the pandemic.

With this experience behind us, and being mindful of the likely need to maintain effective social distancing measures into 2021, the councils have now agreed to change the scheme immediately. From 8pm on Friday 11 September, SCC as the highways authority, will be removing the existing barriers and we will be reconfiguring the scheme with an emphasis on using the planters to define the wider pavements. The planters will be supplemented with some much less obtrusive temporary kerbstones and posts to ensure that vehicles are properly separated from pedestrians. This arrangement will also make it easier for people to cross the roads without being confronted by barriers. Until the kerbstones can be installed, the separation will be defined by traffic cones.

Whilst the scheme is continued, it will in future be managed by the Town Council on behalf of SCC, which will ensure that any problems can be resolved quickly.

As with all COVID responses at government and local authority levels, we have to be prepared to respond and adapt according to any new factors that arise. We hope that Farnham people will understand what we are doing here and support the councils. We are continuously listening to both our community and to our local businesses when we decide the way forward.

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