Oxted Quarry HGVs which strike 'fear' in to road users limited to 112 a day by Surrey County Council

No more than 112 HGVs a day will be allowed to use unsuitable lanes to get to and from Oxted Quarry, Surrey County Council has ruled. Many residents and councillors have described the “frightening” impact of the HGVs which use Chalkpit Lane and surrounding roads. After considering a review of planning controls at the quarry for six years, Surrey County Council (SCC) suggested imposing a limit of 156 lorry movements a day, despite the lane being “unsuitable” for use by any HGVs.

However, that limit was slashed by the council’s planning and regulatory committee to 112, after members were told the quarry operator had never provided proof about how the limit would affect its economic viability, despite repeated requests from council officers.

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Residents have long complained about being confronted by lorries straddling the area’s narrow lanes, and dozens wrote to the council about what they say is a daily danger for all road users and children walking to school. Former Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who lives off the lorry route on Barrow Green Road, funded a legal challenge made by Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG). It argued the higher limit would pose “a severe and wholly unacceptable risk to public safety” and that “no hard evidence” had been provided to prove a lower cap would threaten the quarry’s economic viability.

OLRG Tandridge district councillor Jackie Wren and Tandridge council leader Martin Fisher both addressed the county council’s planning and regulatory meeting, as did two concerned members of the public.

Oxted Quarry HGVs which strike 'fear' in to road users limited to 112 a day by Surrey County CouncilSurrey County Council agrees Chalkpit Lane is ‘unsuitable’ for HGVs

Lisa Willougby, who lives with her family on Barrow Green Road, held up a placard with the pictures of children killed by HGVs. “Every day we live in fear of being struck by an HGV,” she told the meeting. “Our roads were never designed or built to bear the size or weight of even one HGV.”

The applicant, Southern Gravel, did not send a representative. In use for the past 150 years, the quarry was initially given planning consent in 1947 and no bar on the number of lorries which can serve it has been imposed until now.

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At points on Chalkpit Lane and Barrow Green Road the carriageway is not wide enough for a car and lorry to pass, let alone two HGVs travelling in opposite directions. A 112-page report, presented to the meeting, stated: “In geometric terms Chalkpit Lane is unsuitable for HGV use.”

Weighbridge data shows the quarry operated for 251 days last year and there were 18,550 lorry movements – an average of 74 movements a day. Surrey Live counted 25 lorries in a one-hour period last week. Quarry bosses had claimed a limit of 156 lorries a day would threaten its economic viability. They also disputed some other conditions imposed by the county council at the meeting on Wednesday, including that lorries should not travel in convoy, and they should not exit the quarry during the school run – between 8am and 9am, and 3pm and 4pm on weekdays in term time.

A survey of Chalkpit Lane must also be carried out every six months, and any damage deemed to have been caused by the lorries repaired.

Oxted Quarry HGVs which strike 'fear' in to road users limited to 112 a day by Surrey County CouncilThe road is too narrow in places for a car and lorry to pass

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Fisher said he was “delighted”. OLRG district councillor Catherine Sayer, said: “We are obviously very pleased the limit has come down but now want to consult our residents to see what they think. Some have said it is still too high, but we have to be realistic.

“We are also worried that some of the conditions may not be enforceable.”

In 2008, SCC agreed a GBP1million package of works to improve the situation by widening the road, as well as introducing lights and traffic calming measures, should be taken forward but the funding has never been available, the report said.

Southern Gravel declined to comment.

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