Plans for a comprehensive re-working of road layouts through Valley Gardens is set to clear their final hurdle when £8m of government funding is approved next week.
The Local Transport Board (LTB) is expected to release the money for the council’s Valley Gardens project at a meeting next Wednesday.
The council says the scheme will improve walking, cycling and public transport between St Peter’s Church and the Royal Pavilion – with no increase in car journey times.
It estimates it will provide around £40m worth of benefits over 20 years – bringing returns valued at four times the original investment.
These would come from improved health, faster journeys, less pollution, better business links, improved retail frontages, new housing and offices, training and tourism.
Environmental engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff independently assessed the business case for the LTB, concluding it offered “very high value for money.”
Key elements would involve routing general traffic along the east side of the valley, buses and taxis in a ‘park road’ to the west.
There would be an improved network of cycle lanes and pedestrian routes. Hundreds of trees would be planted and green space increased, to improve and revitalise the gardens.
A crucial effect would be to remove a perceived barrier between the east and west of the city, encouraging economic growth on the Kemp Town side.
The business case says car journey times should not increase if general traffic was changed to mainly one lane in each direction. It says hold-ups are dictated by the capacity of junctions, not road space.
Building Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme would cost an estimated £9.6m. The LTB is likely to provide £8m, if agreed at its transport meeting on February 18. The remainder would come from the council’s capital programme, plus money secured from developers in planning agreements.
Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said: “We’re really thrilled by the LTB’s recommendation and are now very hopeful this will happen. This proves that the ideas we have for improving travel and the environment locally have received approval at national and regional level. Working with the local community, we’ve spent a lot of time developing proposals to transform this area for the better – and now it looks like we have the money to deliver those improvements.”
A so-called ‘urgency’ meeting of the environment transport and sustainability committee has been convened for Monday to discuss the LTB’s recommendation ahead of their final decision on Wednesday.