North Camp, near Farnborough

The warning from the North Camp project

A salutary lesson exists about the dangers of these town centre improvement projects when they go wrong. North Camp near Farnborough is a mere 20 miles from Cranleigh. In the table below we show the aims of the North Camp Project as stated by Hampshire CC and the aims of the Cranleigh Project as stated by Surrey CC.

Hampshire CC for North Camp projectSurrey CC for Cranleigh Project
Project Aims
  • More space for people to walk – e.g. wider footways, where widths allow
  • Reducing traffic speeds
  • Reallocating road space from motor vehicles to improve walking and cycling facilities.
  • Reducing / restricting through-traffic on local residential roads
  • Creating new cycle crossing points

  • Create an attractive environment for residents.
  • Encourage more active modes of transport (like walking and cycling)
  • Improve air quality and biodiversity net gain.
  • Encourage more people to visit the village and stay longer.
  • Improve the local economy

There are similar themes in both projects, however we believe that Hampshire were more honest in their objectives than the Surrey team. Hampshire clearly stated that they wanted to reallocate road space from vehicles to pedestrians and cyclists. Based on the evidence of comments from the SCC Project Team we think the Cranleigh Project has exactly the same aims as the North Camp Project, but it is much smaller.

Businesses in North Camp were told these works would last 52 weeks during a consultation held. The county council, when approached by HampshireLive, admitted "miscommunication" over this timeframe with completion actually expected in February 2024 (70 weeks). A survey by the Federation for Small Businesses (FSB) found that 80% of shop owners in North Camp have experienced a drop in footfall since the project began.

A local shop owner said: "This is not what we expected. We were part of the consultation, and we were told the road would be closed for 52 weeks. But the county council has totally deceived us and let us down. When the work started, signage went up saying it would last 70 weeks, but none of us were told that beforehand. They're throwing us to the wolves”. Another said "They're (Hampshire County Council) putting companies out of business. Let's just hope once this is complete, they don't do anything else for a long time."

We shouldn’t be surprised by this feedback. Experience tells us that Local Authority and Utility Company roadworks frequently take much longer than planned or promised. At this stage we have no information on how long the Cranleigh Project will take to complete but it is likely to be several months.

The key questions you should be asking yourself and our representatives based on the North Camp experience is:

  • How will Cranleigh avoid gridlock over several months whilst the work is undertaken? We all have recent experience that relatively small roadworks quickly brings the Village to a halt.
  • What loss of business will retailers in the Village suffer whilst this work is undertaken? If 80% of businesses suffered a reduction in turnover during this period, how many would survive the work?
  • With several empty shops already plus too many charity shops, what would be the long-term impact on Cranleigh if other shops closed through loss of business?
  • If the high street is being narrowed and priority given to pedestrians and cyclists, how will the project team encourage more people to visit the village?
  • Given the absence of suitable routes to bypass the Village, what impact will narrowing the High Street have on congestion?
  • How will increased congestion improve air quality and biodiversity?
  • What will be the impact of greater congestion on rat runs in residential streets in Cranleigh?

We all need to be asking more serious questions of Surrey County Council and our representatives otherwise we will end up with another North Camp.

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