New Walnut Bridge plans approved as part of Guildford's Sustainable Transport Package

Plans to update and replace Walnut Bridge were approved at a meeting of the Planning Committee last night. One of a number of innovative projects within Guildford Town Centre's Sustainable Transport package, the new bridge will encourage walking and cycling between the town centre and the station.

The existing pedestrian cycle bridge lies over the river Wey between the Billings and Bishop's Wharf buildings on the west side, and the Bedford Wharf area on the east. The deck of the new bridge adheres to Highways England requirements and will be 4 metres wide with 3.5 metre wide ramps and steps on the Bedford Wharf side, while the Walnut Tree Close side has a gradient to a new crossing to the station.

Cllr Matt Furniss, Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Councillor for Infrastructure and Governance, says: "It will be the first new bridge for Guildford in many years and is much wider than the current bridge, enabling a safer crossing for all pedestrians and easier passage for cyclists. The bridge will also reduce reliance on the gyratory system as a main route and will serve as an impressive focal point for the redevelopment of Bedford Wharf while maintaining access to the river. The current bridge is too narrow, with limited cycling and pedestrian access."

Walnut Tree Bridge artist impression
He explains: "In 2016 the Council agreed to progress a 'Cable Stay' design for the bridge but the procurement process that followed highlighted the design was technically challenging and would require significant resource to build. In addition the Planning Inspector's decision on the station redevelopment provided the Council with an opportunity to reconsider the plans as a whole. We now have agreed to move ahead with a design which has removed the mast element, therefore addressing the cost and structural implications of the original design and enabling a more holistic view on redeveloping the area."

He adds: "Ensuring the new bridge retains its impact and impressive aesthetic appeal remains a priority and we are looking into commissioning public art to be located in the area around the bridge to achieve this."

In addition to the delivery of the Sustainable Movement Corridor and Transport Package linking the main economic areas and development sites to Guildford Town Centre and launching such initiatives as an electric bike share scheme, the Council is investing significantly in infrastructure and progressing a number of key projects to regenerate parts of the Borough through the Guildford Town Centre Regeneration Strategy. Current projects include:

  • We have just acquired two properties in the Bedford Wharf area to help advance our plans to regenerate Guildford town centre. The Odeon cinema will continue to operate in the same building and more details will follow as this exciting project progresses.

  • The redevelopment of the Tunsgate Quarter area, part of wider investment to revive the historic town centre and provide more pedestrianised areas. Tunsgate footpaths have been replaced with Yorkstone paving and granite kerbs and the road surface renewed with granite setts.

  • The Slyfield Area Regeneration Project, a major redevelopment of the Slyfield area of Guildford comprising of the relocation of the existing Thames Water Sewage Treatment Works to an old landfill site, the relocation of the Council's Operational Services Depot, the relocation of the County Council's Waste Transfer Station, and building of up to 1500 new homes on the brownfield land available from the relocations.

  • Guildford West Railway Station, a proposal for a new passenger railway station on the North Downs Line, to the west of Guildford mainline station. This will provide a vital rail link for one of the most economically active areas of Guildford, embracing both the Royal Surrey County Hospital, University of Surrey and the Surrey Research Park. It will also help to regenerate the Park Barn area of the town.

  • Bedford Wharf and Mary Rd area redevelopment - we are looking at the different potential uses for this area to provide a significantly enhanced environment.

The bridge will be funded by the M3 Local Enterprise Partnership with contributions from Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council. The project is set to complete by Spring 2020.

Published on Thursday 11 October.