The A320 Guildford Road is the main arterial road running through Woking. The historic road layout underneath and on either side of the Victoria Arch railway bridge create a pinch-point for traffic resulting in significant peak-time congestion. These issues have restricted local growth and housing development opportunities for many years.
Demand for housing in Woking is high, leading to an unmet affordable housing need. Research suggests that developers are willing to develop in Woking, but are restricted by the lack of infrastructure which places a significant burden on development viability.
It has been a long held aspiration of Woking Borough Council to address these issues by upgrading the highways configuration and widen the Victoria Arch bridge to benefit all users and unlock development sites for much needed town centre housing.
Historically, this has been constrained by the substantial investment required to deliver such major improvements and the timely alignment of Network Rail’s strategic objectives and resources.
How the scheme will contribute towards the borough's housing needs
Woking’s Core Strategy, adopted in 2012, identified Woking town centre (Policy CS1 and CS2) as a primary location to deliver homes for the future, whilst safeguarding precious green space.
The Victoria Arch widening scheme, using the Housing Infrastructure Fund, will unlock additional housing capacity for 13 identified development sites within Woking town centre. The majority of the identified housing development sites are allocated in our draft Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD).
The site map below demonstrates the anticipated housing capacity for each site outlined in the DPD and what will be potentially achieved via the delivery of the Victoria Arch widening scheme.
How the scheme is funded
On 13 February 2020, Woking Borough’s elected members approved the next stage of a £115 million highways enhancement scheme, which will be Woking’s biggest infrastructure project to date.
Acceptance of a £95 million grant, offered by the government and administered by Homes England, paves the way for us to complete the acquisition of the Triangle site on the south side of the town, deliver the significant improvements to the town centre’s road network and widen the out of date Victoria Arch by 2024.
In 2018, we (in partnership with Surrey County Council) submitted a comprehensive funding bid to the government’s highly contested Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which finances a small number of strategic and high impact infrastructure schemes to unlock housing sites.
In June 2019, our HIF bid was formally approved by the Housing Minister. The £95 million is given in the form of a grant which means that it does not need to be repaid.
About the Victoria Arch widening scheme works
The HIF grant is being used to deliver an integrated highways revitalisation project estimated to cost £115 million. This is financed by £95 million awarded from the HIF and the remaining contribution will be met by us and Network Rail.
There are three key elements to the project:
- Acquisition and demolition of the Triangle site (estimated cost £32.5 million)
- A320 highway widening and improvements (estimated cost £17.5 million)
- The replacement of Victoria Arch bridge (estimated cost £65 million).
The Triangle is the pocket of land surrounded by the one-way gyratory system, located on the south-side of Victoria Arch (incorporating Guildford Road, Victoria Road and Station Approach). The acquisition and demolition of the Triangle is essential to enable the A320 to be widened to allow for a dual-carriage way and improved pedestrian crossing facilities.
Works started in summer 2020 and are anticipated expected to conclude in summer 2021.
The highways enhancements are required on the north and south sides of the Victoria Arch to ensure the new dual carriageway provides a seamless transition through this part of the town centre.
Extensive traffic management modelling shows these will improve traffic flows between both sides of the town, and provide better access across the railway and to the railway station for cyclists and pedestrians.
The highways works will comprise of a number of changes to the A320 to facilitate better access into and through the town centre. The proposed works include:
North of Victoria Arch (Victoria Square development side of the bridge)
- Widened highway on the western side of Victoria Way.
- Improved pedestrian and cycle link along Victoria Way.
- Left turn moved from Goldsworth Road to Church Street West.
South of Victoria Arch (The Triangle side of the bridge)
- Removal of the one-way gyratory system and replacement two-way dual carriageway.
- Enhanced pedestrian and cycle paths.
- Installation of four new toucan crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Revised junction at Heathside Road to provide a left in and left out to/from Guildford Road.
- Improved informal pedestrian crossing island near York Road to ease access to the bus stop.
- Improved informal pedestrian crossing facilities near Constitution Hill.
Works are anticipated to start in summer 2021 and conclude in spring 2024.
Victoria Arch widening and replacement bridge works
Rebuilding the bridge will provide an opportunity for Network Rail to renew the railway infrastructure in Woking, allowing more reliable services for passengers for decades to come. The scheme will also improve the efficiency of freight services in the area by removing unused dedicated freight tracks.
We have been working with Surrey County Council and Network Rail since 2017. At present, there are three feasible options being consider including factors such as requirement, the project’s scheduling, cost and engineering feasibility. These options will be moved to the next phase where they will be developed to a point where one can be selected for detailed design and delivery.
The next phase of the works will focus on the detailed design of the preferred bridge option and the start of the procurement process.
Works are anticipated to start in summer 2021 and expected to conclude in early 2024.
Project recovery strategy
The HIF recovery strategy seeks to bridge the gap between the total scheme cost (£115 million) and the HIF grant (£95 million).
Development in the town centre will be unlocked as a result of the finished Victoria Arch scheme. As a result, housing can be delivered over and above our current commitment, as set out in the emerging Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD) by 2030.
Future developments will benefit from this significant amount of public investment, so it is fair and reasonable that this development also make an appropriate contribution.
Surrey County Council, Woking Borough Council and Network Rail are the key partners in developing this scheme. There are well established joint governance arrangements in place between these two organisations with a trusted professional team in place to deliver this scheme.
The scheme will be closely monitored by a panel of elected members. The Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) Oversight Panel will monitor progress of the project, through the receipt of programme reports, against key milestone dates, budget and key risks. The panel's membership includes:
- Cllr Ian Johnson, Mount Hermon Ward Member and Chair of the Housing Infrastructure Fund Oversight Panel
- Cllr Mohammad Ali, Canalside Ward Member
- Cllr Ayesha Azad, Portfolio Holder for Financial Services
- Cllr Tahir Aziz, Canalside Ward Member
- Cllr Will Forster, Surrey County Councillor for Woking South
- Cllr Colin Kemp, Portfolio Holder for Transport
- Cllr Liam Lyons, Mount Hermon Ward Member
- Cllr Mohammad Raja, Canalside Ward Member
Residents, businesses and stakeholders who may be directly affected by the proposals will be contacted direct at various stages of the project.
We will also publish project updates via an enewsletter.
Further information about this scheme will be published on this page and our social media channels.
To contact us about the project, please contact us via email.