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Collaboration gives green light to Blackwater Valley Hotspots scheme

Significant improvements to key junctions in the Blackwater Valley area will now go ahead thanks to collaboration between Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership EM3.

The Blackwater Valley Hotspots project is an important highways scheme that is identified in the Local Plan to reduce traffic congestion in the west of the borough. The highway scheme will improve:

  • A331 Blackwater Valley Road/A31 roundabout junction and
  • A323 Guildford Road/A324 Pirbright Road traffic signal junction

Prior to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak the project had reached design stage thanks to commitment from the borough Council to deliver this complex infrastructure plan for its residents. However, the financial impact of the pandemic meant the Council needed to re-evaluate expenditure and set aside £15 million emergency fund to ensure essential services are maintained.

Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Cllr John Rigg explains: "The project isn't part of the borough Council's statutory duty but we initiated it to benefit our residents in the Blackwater Valley area and those travelling through there. Thanks to the hard work of our project team it was at an advanced stage but we would have been unable to continue without greater collaboration with Surrey County Council through Deputy Leader, Cllr Colin Kemp due to the budgetary pressure we are facing from Covid-19."

He adds: "I'm very pleased to confirm that following discussions over the past few weeks we have found a robust way forward with this scheme and I'm grateful for the constructive approach of Surrey County Councillor Colin Kemp and his dedication to working together with us."

Councillor Colin Kemp, Deputy Leader of Surrey County Council, says: "These two junctions are important for the Blackwater area of Guildford, to support the delivery of housing in the borough but also as an important part of our road network. These junction improvements will also support greener travel methods like walking and cycling, and help to reduce congestion and improve air quality on Surrey's busy roads.

"So when the delivery of these schemes was going to be a challenge, Surrey County Council was happy to work in partnership with Guildford Borough Council to jointly fund and take over the delivery. There is still a lot of work to get this done by next year, but a challenge that the county council will meet."

In addition, Enterprise M3 LEP has been instrumental in achieving this positive outcome and they are providing 50% of total costs of the scheme. Kathy Slack, CEO of Enterprise M3 LEP says: "I am really pleased to see the Blackwater Valley Hotspots project taking a big step forward following a truly collaborative approach to funding with partners. No one wants to see a return to the levels of congestion we saw in the area before the Covid-19 pandemic and, upon completion, this scheme will go a long way toward reducing congestion, and thereby air pollution, in the Blackwater Valley."

Published on Tuesday 21 July.