For umpteen years the borough council has been proposing to improve the pedestrian environment in Camberley’s High Street. It fleshed out its ideas in a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) a couple of years ago, and very recently it expanded on its proposals still further (thanks Graham for alerting us).
The intention is to improve the street surface and street ‘furniture’, and to introduce ‘greenery’. In addition, the council proposes reducing the number of parking spaces by perhaps two thirds, and also implementing measures to slow traffic. Obviously, the Eye agrees with improving the road’s appearance. However, reducing – but not eliminating – parking is much more contentious. We know that it won’t please some of our readers, but will it actually be workable?
We can see two possible outcomes. One, the new arrangement works perfectly. Drivers learn that the chances of finding a parking space are much reduced, so they don’t even try; they avoid the road, and pedestrians automatically have greater priority than at present. But Surrey Heath residents are more wedded to their cars than elsewhere, so the alternative scenario is that drivers simply form a solid queue in the street and they drive round and round via Knoll Road (some do this already) until they can park. This would mean pedestrians have to share the road with a traffic jam that is worse than ever.
We admit, we don’t know which of these two outcomes would result. BUT NEITHER DOES THE COUNCIL. (We have a five-year-old newspaper cutting quoting the council talking about a new parking scheme and saying “We may be wrong. I don’t think we’re going to be.” However, they were!) So, not for the first time, we suggest that the council carries out a pilot exercise before doing anything permanent. In this case, the pilot should be quite easy to set up – simply block off a number of the existing parking spaces, but don’t change the road surface for the time being. Without a pilot, implementing the council proposals would be premature and an avoidable gamble.
The council is seeking the views of the public on its proposals. You can find the information here: https://goo.gl/rUrMHB