Leatherhead High Street
Background Information to Phase 2 Enhancements
Prepared by Surrey County Council and Mole Valley District Council
(Leatherhead AHEAD note: this page reproduces the text of the leaflet provided by the Councils
at the Leatherhead AHEAD meeting at The Theatre, Leatherhead, 29th April 2002)
This short leaflet is a summary of the events leading to the design, adoption and letting of the contract for Phase 2 of the enhancements to Leatherhead High Street. It covers the following:
1. The process leading to the dropping of the idea of a traffic link between North St and Church Street
2. The public consultation arrangements for the design of Phase 2
3. The design rationale behind Phase 2
Church Street - North Street Link
The idea of recreating a road link between North Street and Church Street was introduced by both County and District Councils in the 1996 Deposit version of the Mole Valley Local Plan. The issues for and against the link were fully debated by individuals and town centre organisations. This included putting the case for the link and hearing objections to it at a Public Inquiry.
The Inspector, who held the Public Inquiry, shared objectors' concerns that it would bring pedestrians into conflict with vehicles in what is now a pedestrianised area. He also doubted that it would in practice improve the accessibility to the town centre. Having regard to these conclusions, on further study, both Councils agreed in 1999 to omit the link for the following additional reasons:
- It would conflict with the Government's more recent transport objectives regarding car travel and pedestrian safety, and therefore funding for it would be unlikely;
- The new owners of the Swan Centre and Cornhill site, preparing redevelopments to regenerate the town, were opposed to the link;
- Bus movements and facilities would be disadvantaged and there would be less opportunity for on-street car parking.
In 1999 modifications to the Local Plan, dropping the link, were published and no objections were received to this revised policy.
Consultation and Decisions on Phase 2
The design of Phase 2 was therefore based upon no vehicular link between Church Street and North Street.
Consultation arrangements for the proposals were as follows:
1. A public exhibition held in the Swan Centre between 21st and 23rd October and on Saturday 30th October, 1999. The designers and officers of the County Council manned the exhibition. Plans and a scale model of the proposals were displayed. An estimated 1000 people visited the exhibition. Of the 71 written responses received, 77% were in favour of the proposals.
2. In October 1999 representatives of the town centre interest groups generally supported the proposals of the Leatherhead Town Centre Forum meeting held at the exhibition.
3. In February 2000, in the light of the public consultation, the County and District Councils approved the implementation of the Phase 2 enhancements subject to the availability of funds.
4. In September 2000 County Council officers met with the Leatherhead Chamber of Commerce at the Englishman's Castle to review Phase 1 and to look forward to Phase 2. Representatives took a positive view of the proposals.
In January 2002, as part of a separate but related initiative to assist the High Street economy, the County and District Councils agreed to advertise new permanent Traffic Regulation Orders. This would have the effect of permitting access to the High Street by vehicles between the hours of 4.30 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday.
Design of Phase 2
The design aim has been to:
- Create an attractive and distinctive public space that would provide a focus for the town.
- Improve accessibility, particularly for visually impaired and ambulant disabled people in Leatherhead, whilst maintaining access for emergency vehicles.
- Make provision for delivery vehicles at times when vehicular access to the High Street is permitted, whilst maintaining a pedestrian-friendly environments
Phase 2 covers the area from the entrance with the Swan Centre to North Street, including a small section of Church Street. The proposals will include:
- Surfacing with attractive quality materials, yorkstone with granite and slate bands,
- Retaining walls that support a ramp to assist access for those with physical disabilities The walls incorporate a water wall and lighting;
- Semi-mature trees to compensate for the loss of a plane tree;
- Street lighting and fibre optic lighting for safety and visual interest,
- Street furniture such as seating and cycle stands for the convenience of the public