Warnham rat-run creating dangerous country roads

JPCT-24-02-12 Warnham road traffic, Strood Lane. Simon Parker. Motorists using the rural roads outside his home to get from Horsham to Guildford. Currently resurfacing road adding to fears that the traffic will be able to go even faster along it S12090004a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT-24-02-12 Warnham road traffic, Strood Lane. Simon Parker. Motorists using the rural roads outside his home to get from Horsham to Guildford. Currently resurfacing road adding to fears that the traffic will be able to go even faster along it S12090004a -photo by Steve Cobb

DEMANDS for road safety measures have been refuelled as a new development threatens to intensify a village rat-run.

A parish meeting on Monday evening February 21 gave Warnham residents their first opportunity to grill their new district councillor, Stuart Ritchie, about excessive traffic flow on their roads,

JPCT-24-02-12 Warnham road traffic, Strood Lane. Simon Parker. Motorists using the rural roads outside his home to get from Horsham to Guildford. Currently resurfacing road adding to fears that the traffic will be able to go even faster along it S12090027a -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT-24-02-12 Warnham road traffic, Strood Lane. Simon Parker. Motorists using the rural roads outside his home to get from Horsham to Guildford. Currently resurfacing road adding to fears that the traffic will be able to go even faster along it S12090027a -photo by Steve Cobb

Simon Parker, 52, who lives in Strood Lane, Warnham, joined many other residents at the parish meeting in a bid to force the council to put traffic calming measures in place.

He said: “The roads are not built for the level of traffic there is at the moment. They were built for a rural environment.

“Yesterday was the first time in ages that this proposal had been brought up. Nothing can be guaranteed, but this time we will now continue our campaign until the village roads are reclaimed for the safety of residents and visitors to it.”

Mr Ritchie, who was voted into his role as Conservative district councillor on February 16, said that he would back the residents in any of the ideas they wanted to put forward to the council.

“When I was running for election I went round the village and spoke to the residents and this was one of the main concerns that was bought up. It is a serious issue,” Mr Ritchie said.

Residents say motorists travelling between Guildford and Horsham often race through Strood Lane, Byfleets Lane, and Robin Hood Lane at Warham, which are meant to be safe for cyclists, pedestrians and horses.

To make matters worse, roadworks are currently underway on the rural roads to make them wider and smoother, providing further incentive for motorists to speed through the village.

Concerns are now mounting as the new housing development to the West of Horsham threatens a number of road alterations which are likely to make motorists more tempted to use through roads.

The council plans to close the existing Broadbridge Heath bypass to the west of the existing access to Tesco and Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.

Horsham District Council explains on its website that the closure of this road will enable a ‘full integration of the existing and new communities of Broadbridge Heath without the need for people to cross a busy road and will create an environment that is pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian friendly’.

A new dual carriageway will be provided to the south of this bypass as an east-west link road, connecting the A24 with the A264 near Newbridge Nurseries. This new road will have limited junctions and a speed limit of 40mph as it is designed as a boulevard with development fronting the road.

The more southern location of this road and the speed limit, will mean that motorists travelling from the Guildford direction into Horsham will have a longer journey if they stick to main roads.

Mr Ritchie heard residents’ concerns that this replacement road will be avoided by motorists as they may seek a quicker route through Broadbridge Heath, Warnham, or Slinfold.

Mr Ritchie said: “The residents are concerned that the new road arrangements will be inadequate if motorists think that the traffic flow through the new roads are too slow then they will find ways to avoid them.

“West Sussex County Council has been planning these developments for many years and it does not believe that this will be an issue.”

One proposal to stop the use of Warnham roads as through roads was the introduction of a ‘no left turn’ sign from the A281 into Strood Lane making motorists drive down to a roundabout and turn back on themselves in order to use that through road.

Mr Parker said: “The hope would be that by the time they got to the roundabout they would just carry on down to the main road. I think that would work well.”

Broadbridge Heath Parish Council is also considering a number of traffic calming measures to deter motorists from using Billingshurst Road.

Mr Parker said: “We still want to entice people into the village to use our local services just as long as they don’t speed through the roads. I really notice how fast people drive because I walk my dogs down my road every day and there is no footpath.

“The horses don’t use it like they used to and the cyclists don’t use it like they used to.”

Mr Parker is grateful that the residents’ concerns are finally being taken seriously and he said that he has high hopes for Mr Ritchie’s intervention. He said: “Stuart is well known by residents after performing in local pantomimes and being a part of village life for many years.”