Southern Link Road
Introduction / summary
Planning permission was approved for a new southern link road in December 2020.
The project seeks to secure a restricted vehicular connection between the Runnymede Halls Car Park and the Sports Centre. The link was included within the Estate Plan proposals which underpinned the 2015 outline planning permission for the campus.
A controlled access route will avoid the need for Royal Holloway service, maintenance and delivery vehicles to use the external road network (A30, Bakeham Lane and Prune Hill) to access the sports centre. Controlled access will prevent rat-running by car drivers.
Subject to ongoing technical investigations, the project will also enable any future Royal Holloway shuttle bus services to access the sports centre (and beyond) from its internal road network. The link road will therefore reduce total distance travelled, reduce overall emissions and remove vehicles from the road network.
Relevance to the Estate Plan
The Estate Plan was updated in November 2017 to reflect all recently completed developments including the student accommodation north of the A30 (George Eliot Hall), the Boilerhouse, Beatrice Shilling Building and Emily Wilding Davison Building. This was sent to the council as an informative.
The Southern Link Road was retained as being of benefit in the 2017 revised Estate Plan. The reasons for the link road being part of the internal access and movement strategy across the campus are set out above.
The alignment of the link road, as shown on the Estate Plan, has been informed by highway engineer and arboricultural (tree) consultant’s advice. The alignment serves the needs of service and delivery vehicles in relation to road geometry and visibility splays, and minimises the loss of trees. A full tree survey was undertaken to support planning application, which was approved subject to conditions that seek to protect wildlife and manage the protection of trees throughout construction. A Woodland Management Plan is also required by condition of the approval.
An extract from the approved planning permission drawings is set out below. In addition to the introduction of a new link road, the scope of the wider project includes minor geometry refinements to the internal spine road through the campus. These works are required to enable shuttle buses to navigate the internal roads, connecting the sports centre (and therefore Prune Hill beyond) with Founder’s Building and the A30 to the north. A barrier system will be installed to prevent unauthorised rat-running through the campus.
The proposal is not considered to result in detrimental impact to nearby nearby residents. Opportunities to comment on the emerging proposals were provided as part of the July and November 2019 engagement events and subsequent consultation period during the determination of the formal planning application process. Technical investigations relating to the detailed design were completed to support the planning application, which was approved by Runnymede Borough Council (decision notice dated 15th Dec 2020 ref. RU.20/0260).
The Southern Link Road is required to be installed and works completed by the time of the occupation of first residents of the Rusham Park student village. This is planned for the summer of 2026. Notwithstanding this deadline, the university is required to discharge a number of pre-commencement conditions and start works on site to deliver the link road by December 2023. The university will be looking to develop detailed construction drawings and appoint a contractor in spring 2023 to ensure this project is progressed and delivered in a timely manner.
Link with other Estate projects and plans
Outline planning permission was secured in February 2022 for the Rusham Park student village to the south-east of the campus and railway line. Detailed design submissions relating to the buildings and landscaping were submitted in April 2022 and granted permission in September 2022. The link road forms part of a wider internal access and movement strategy embedded within the 2015 Estate Plan proposals. This strategy seeks to create direct connections to the university, making the servicing of facilities more efficient. The wider benefits include time and marginal fuel cost savings, a reduction in total distance travelled and a corresponding reduction in total airborne pollution. The link road will also reduce trips taken on the public highway and create an enhanced pedestrian connection to and from the sports centre. The Southern Link Road will also enable a Royal Holloway shuttle bus service connecting Rusham Park with the campus.