Leatherhead AHEAD - Our Case
see the Map/Aerial photo link for street and geographical orientation
map externally provided and not fully up to date (for alternative, Mapquest map)

We originally set up in February 2002 to oppose the Phase 2 (Water Feature) works because they did not address the main problems influencing the prosperity of this much loved town, namely access and parking, and we regarded the project as a mis-use of public money.

Our view and that of our many supporters has not changed in that regard ... Leatherhead AHEAD will continue to press the Mole Valley and Surrey County councils to improve access and parking, and to listen to the views of both residents and traders.

You may read elsewhere that we wish to have the High Street open to two-way traffic. We don't!
Click here for some other
things we are supposed to favour but do not.


The Phase 2 works involved re-paving the area from the lower High Street (near the entrance of the Swan Centre), round the Abbey National corner and into the first part of Church Street. Ramps softened by a water feature were to be built at the crossroads area to improve access for everyone, able and disabled. The works began at the end of March 2002 and were estimated to cost 650,000 and to last six months.

Leatherhead AHEAD was formed in February 2002 by a group of residents who had separately realised that the main problems for Leatherhead were lack of access and parking. The High Street had at that time 15 empty units out of 46 and some of these had been empty for years. We could see that the Phase 2 scheme offered nothing to help the basic problems of the town’s infrastructure.

our first protest: before the contractors moved in

The Councils have always said there was proper consultation about Phase 2 in October 1999. The exhibition was in the former Wiseman's chemist shop in the Swan Centre (it is still vacant) and was open for just 20 hours during which the councils say 1000 people viewed it ( ... busier than recollected by some who went).

But the 56 or so people who voted in favour (out of just 77 voting) might be forgiven for thinking that they were looking at a completely different scheme. Together with the model of the Water Feature, on display were artist's impressions of a multi-screen cinema, more shops, better access from Leret Way, and improved visibility of the town (attacking the Fortress Leatherhead problem, as recommended by the Civic Trust in 1997).

By the time the work started 2 years later, almost all of this had fallen by the wayside. The only remaining part of the original plan was the ramps with the water feature .. and eventually the water feature could not be built by Surrey County Council, for technical reasons.

As Professor Whitelegg said in his report of June 2002 "The history of consultation and information sharing in Leatherhead is not a happy one. Councils have carried out the kind of consultation that any Council would have done. The long gap between consultation and construction work and the sensitivity of High St issues simply point to the need for a new people-centred form of consultation for use on future schemes."

Leatherhead High Street: Phase 2, early days ... there were (too) many more to come

Phase II was supposed to be a six month project but it took longer than that for SCC to realise that they were not able to build the water feature. In December 2002 the Mole Valley Local Committee (Transportation) decided to go ahead with the ramps alone with little or no information about the design, the cost, or how long it would take to build.

Our High Street businesses and shoppers eagerly awaited an end to the disruption.

The works lasted almost 2 YEARS. There was huge disruption to the town centre with noise and clouds of dust all the time until January 2004.

The disruption started again almost immediately when some of the new paving slabs had to be dug up to provide electricity for the Travelodge Hotel due to open on May 17th 2004. There was an open trench outside Abbey National and Amethyst Moon for 6 weeks (Mr Roger Archer-Reeves, Surrey County Council Local Transportation Director for Mole Valley, was quoted in the local paper as saying that the work would take 3 weeks).

As both Councils must be held accountable for the way they spend our money, Leatherhead AHEAD wrote two letters in February 2004 to the Chief Executives of Surrey County Council (Mr Paul Coen) and Mole Valley District Council (Mrs Heather Kerswell):

Letter 1 asked for the total breakdown of the cost of the Phase 2 works now that they are finished.

Letter 2 (our review of the Leatherhead Phase 2 works) pointed out that SCC and MVDC have achieved NONE of the aims they planned to achieve with Phase 2, i.e. better access to the High Street for everybody, improved access for the disabled in wheelchairs and people with pushchairs, and a focal point for the town. Instead we have a desolate structure* which obscures the view of the High Street from the top of Bridge Street (and vice versa), a pavement on the More shop side much steeper than it was, and a set of ramps not used by anyone.

* Leatherhead AHEAD strongly deplores the effect that Phase 2 has had on the recovery of the town and the failure to take account of the opinions of large numbers of local people and businesses, as shown by the massive 4,500 signature petition presented to the Councils.

However, many take pride in the skill and professionalism of the Fire and Iron Gallery of Leatherhead which stepped in to provide the ironwork when the water feature part of the project had, thankfully, to be abandoned.

image: Sue Parrott, March 2004

view from Bridge Street 11 April 2004: source website editor

view from Church Street towards North Street: March 2004: source Bruce Reid


last updated 25 May 2004