Walton High Street - can we preserve the cherry trees?

27 Nov 2023
Ashley Tilling on Walton High Street

Since my election as the county councillor for Walton South & Oatlands, I have been questioning Surrey County Council on the need to move the crossing and working through alternative ideas. My immediate response in May was to ask SCC to pay for a scheme of planting around Walton to compensate for the loss of the cherry trees; SCC officers have now agreed to some planters being placed along the High Street and they are working with EBC to produce a 'greening' scheme for a wider Walton area.

Clearly there was insufficient consultation and communication with residents before the three trees were lopped on the Heart side. However, moving the crossing, and the necessity of removing the trees, was known about by county and local councillors a couple of years before the action was taken. However, we need to move on from looking to cast any blame and move towards a sensible way forward. Here are the salient points:

  • It is clear that the trees on the built-out pavements are a safety hazard, blocking the line of sight to the current crossing for traffic travelling north on the road.
  • Some pedestrians walk straight out of, and into, the Heart by crossing directly; they are difficult for drivers to see due to the trees and this has led to accidents and near misses.
  • It will be safer to move the crossing to the planned position between the built-out pavements.
  • I asked if the trees could be dug up and moved elsewhere. This is costly and they are unlikely to survive being replanted.

However, I believe a credible way forward which would save the two remaining trees would be as follows:

  • Remove the three remaining stumps on the Heart side;
  • Remove the built-out pavement on the Heart side back to its original line;
  • Build out the pavement on the Boots side to increase the width by the same as that removed on the Heart side; this then retain the trees and makes people waiting to cross visible to drivers;

This then effectively shifts the new crossing across the road to save the trees and provide the necessary safety to drivers and those using the crossing.

If you support this idea, please make your views known on the SCC Consultation website:

Walton High Street Pedestrian Safety Improvements - Surrey County Council - Citizen Space (surreysays.co.uk)

Cllr Ashley Tilling

Walton South & Oatlands