By Rebecca Curley, Local Democracy Reporter, 5 June
Residents living near the M25 and M23 fear a £3.8 million improvement project for the A23 is going to have a “negative impact” on pollution and pedestrians.
They say they are worried the Highways England proposed widening scheme of Brighton Road in Hooley will only benefit motorway drivers and not local people living in the area.
Highways England says the work is necessary in a bid to reduce accidents and congestion and improve the traffic flow on the road it calls a “strategic route” between Brighton and London.
The government body says it is aware Hooley has been designated an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) due to high levels of NO2 but stresses on its website the scheme has “no detriment to air quality”.
Statistics collected by Highways England show there are around 35,000 people using the A23 through Hooley on a daily basis.
It is hoped the improvement works will reduce journey time saving around 80 seconds and reduce accidents by 1.39 per year, according to its data.
One villager took his fears to the Surrey County Council Local Committee for Reigate & Banstead on Monday 3 June.
Ian Thirlwall said residents were concerned about the impact on air pollution with the widening of the road increasing traffic.
He also said proposals to build on the verges and pavements would put pedestrians and cyclists within “brushing distance” of traffic and questioned whether the works would improve what he called “the accident-waiting-to-happen at the unofficial makeshift turnaround” near the junction with Starbucks.
Mr Thirlwall said in a written question: “Surely it would be better to spend (significantly less) money on traffic management in Hooley and neighbouring Chipstead where traffic accidents are waiting to happen and reduce speeding on local roads such as Star Lane, Elmore Road, High Road and Coulsdon Lane?”
Surrey Highways officers said they could not comment on the fears as it is a Highways England scheme but councillors said they would take the matter up with SCC cabinet member for highways Cllr Matt Furniss.
A Highways England spokesman said: “We are aware of strong local feelings in relation to our plans for improving the A23 through Hooley, and we have worked hard to balance the views and opinions of the local residents with the needs of the 35,000 people using this strategic route each day.
“These much-needed improvements at Hooley will ease congestion and improve safety, as well as introduce a new shared route for pedestrians and cyclists.”
The improvement scheme includes proposals to:
- reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph through residential areas
- upgrade and synchronise the existing traffic signal timings through the crossroads of the A23 with Netherne Drive and Star Lane
- introduce a new shared footway/cycleway along the A23
- widen the A23 northbound to two lanes from Church Lane to Netherne Drive
- widen the A23 southbound to two lanes from Netherne Drive to the Esso garage
Residents were able to see plans in March. A decision whether to go ahead with the scheme will be made in July.
If agreed, construction work is expected to start in the summer and to be completed by spring 2020.