Controversial Brighton road scheme to go to mediation

Posted On 25 Jun 2019 at 8:05 pm

A controversial Brighton road scheme is to be discussed at a mediation session next week, councillors were told this afternoon (Tuesday 25 June).

The meeting next Tuesday (2 July) follows months of vocal opposition to the detail of the scheme, known as Valley Gardens phase 3.

The Valley Gardens project involves redesigning the area from St Peter’s Church to the seafront, with work on phase 1 and 2 already under way.

Phase 3 – from Edward Street to the Palace Pier – has proved particularly contentious with businesses, trade associations and residents complaining that they were not properly consulted.

Many are angry that a traffic light junction is planned to replace the Aquarium roundabout which, they say, will create more traffic jams, increase pollution and reduce road safety.

The western end of Madeira Drive is due to become one-way so that vehicles can enter but have to leave via Duke’s Mound.

And the taxi trade, among others, has concerns about the junction changes at Castle Square – between North Street and Old Steine.

The Valley Gardens Forum, which represents businesses and residents, supports the scheme in principle and welcomed the opportunity to go to mediation with Brighton and Hove City Council.

But it is also concerned about pollution and road safety arising from the new road layout which includes a “five-lane superhighway” on the east side of Old Steine.

The project was the subject of more than a dozen questions, petitions and other contributions from councillors, businesses and the public at a council committee meeting this afternoon.

The exchanges dominated the opening two and a half hours of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee meeting at Hove Town Hall.

Martin Christie, who works for a Brighton printing business, said: “The council’s own technical report commissioned from Mott Macdonald showed that retaining a roundabout would actually prevent 328 accidents as compared with the current proposed junction.

“Does the chair agree that a roundabout is safer, cheaper and – by allowing the most flexible throughput of traffic – also the most environmentally friendly solution for the Aquarium junction.”

Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou, the new chair of the committee, said: “Improving road safety is one of the core objectives.”

Councillor Pissaridou said that the figures cited related to the whole project area from Edward Street to the seafront – not just the Aquarium roundabout.

A visualisation of the area in front of the Palace Pier If the Aquarium roundabout is replaced by traffic lights

She said that the roundabout allowed traffic to flow freely “but it’s a real barrier for people to reach our wonderful seafront attractions and beach”.

She added: “We also want the city to become carbon neutral. This means looking at every transport option.”

The traffic lights would include advanced technology as part of an “intelligent signals system”, she said, and “the location of the junction on the seafront would mean any emissions that build up on the seafront would disperse more easily”.

Councillor Bridget Fishleigh asked about the effect on traffic and safety at Duke’s Mound, not least with the council planning to move the Brighton Centre to nearby Black Rock.

Councillor Pissaridou said that concerns about vehicles joining the A259 Marine Parade from Duke’s Mound would be dealt with by installing intelligent traffic lights.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou

Brighton Language College director Gary Farmer, who lives in Old Steine, also asked about pollution.

Mr Farmer said: “Current Illegal pollution levels throughout the city centre are a lethal danger to residents, workers and visitors.

“And yet current Valley Gardens plans intentionally make this worse for the east of the city.

“World Health Organisation director Maria Neira suggested last week that politicians should face prosecution for knowingly exacerbating air pollution on their watch.

“No politician will be able to say I didn’t know because we all knew.

“Advocates for the Valley Gardens scheme repeatedly talk about winners and losers – but this isn’t a game.

“Will the council conduct a full and open environmental impact assessment for the scheme?”

Councillor Pissaridou said that air quality in the Valley Gardens area was within international agreed limits, adding: “The overall impact on air quality will be relatively low.”

Councillor Lee Wares said that two previous council road schemes – in North Street and Lewes Road – had led to pollution becoming worse.

He was told that cleaner greener buses were making a difference and taxis with cleaner engines would soon be more common on the roads of Brighton and Hove.

Community campaigner Adrian Hart told the committee: “It would be a tragic irony if the original Valley Gardens vision for cleaner air and safer movement of pedestrians and cyclists ends with the exact opposite.

“If the rationale is to nudge people from car use by making things worse, the council should not only make this strategy explicit but first invest in affordable efficient public transport alternatives while providing impact data estimating how much worse and for how many years.

“We feel certain that this committee would not sanction a project that altered car driver behaviour at the cost of potentially fatal spikes in child asthma.”

Adrian Hart

Valley Gardens Forum chair Daniel Nathan said that it was a “burning public health issue”.

Requests for a pause in the project to allow for “proper consultation” were again turned down, including for the changes at Duke’s Mound.

The committee agreed to work more closely with event organisers, including those associated with festivals such as the Brighton Fringe.

Members committed to spend more than £170,000 installing permanent power and water supplies and access to the sewers for temporary event sites in the Valley Gardens area.

The organisers of events such as the Ladyboys of Bangkok are expected to pay charges that will cover the running costs of those services.

  1. MegA Reply

    “but it’s a real barrier for people to reach our wonderful seafront attractions and beach”… what a load of RUBBISH Anne.. what a ridiculous thing to say in some sort of defense of this ill-conceived plan

  2. Simon Phillips Reply

    I don’t understand why reviews of next phrases are taking place when it’s abundantly clear, they’re going to do it anyway?
    This whole debacle could have been solved with a free park and ride scheme around three or 4 of the entrances into Brighton. This could have been solved at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience that this will cause and is already causing!

    I don’t think the powers that be will be happy until they’ve created gridlock and brought Brighton to a standstill!

    I hope and pray it’s not a day when there’s a major incident and the emergency vehicles are also gridlocked?

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Again that chant of “park and ride”. So why do you not bring forward a detailed position paper on that? Give us the details.

      • rolivan Reply

        Falmer would be an ideal site for a multi storey park and ride right by the Station Unis and Stadium.

  3. Billy Reply

    I feel quite sorry for Anne Pissaridou here, because she’s probably a nice person but she, like others, must know she’s fronting up a fudge with spin here.
    A child could draw up plans for a park and then suggest that everyone in the new Valley Gardens scheme might like to walk straight to the Palace Pier or the Sealife Centre as their next bit of fun. It’s so logical to have that ‘flow’ on the diagram – or is it? In fact many other seafront destinations are also available, and most actually head between the piers to the beach there, with its bars.
    Let’s instead completely ignore the public transport system, the commuters from our suburbs, and those in vans trying to work and to make deliveries and on other essential journeys. This scheme is such a fuck up for transport and bus services, and for all residents. Try thinking about those who need to cross the city via bus, car, taxi, or van, and look at how few routes are available. Think about trying to get to the hospital for an emergency.
    What we actually need is some joined up thinking here.
    There is no need to direct all the pedestrians and cycle lanes from Valley Gardens straight at what is already the busiest road junction in our city. Why would you do that? The pedestrians in Valley Gardens might themselves be happy to stay there, or they might head to Churchill square, the North Laine, or the Pavilion. Or they might want to go to the beach, but not necessarily that beach at the Palace Pier.
    And the new Valley Gardens layout already has pedestrians moved to the west and road traffic to the east, so why not direct those pedestrians wanting the seafront towards East street or via Pool Valley.?
    It’s also amusing to see that the council’s own reports say that retaining a roundabout at the Palace Pier junction is actually the safest option , and yet poor Anne still has to claim Phase 3 is all about road safety, when clearly it was all about getting the funding.
    Can we please have a councillor who stands up and tells the truth? Pedalling a party line that is a lie is not leadership.
    If , like me, you are also quite green, then you should also be asking why there are so many paved areas where we once had grass. And if you believe in public transport then you might ask how this scheme helps the free flow of our buses, and where will the bus stops and shelters be? It’s also one thing to want to discourage cars but then another fudge to create traffic jams which just create a pollution hotspot – as we have seen in North street. And where are the park and ride schemes that make it easy to leave your car at home or outside the city centre?
    There are a lot of good things about the Valley Gardens scheme, but so many details have not been thought through in the rush to simply get the funding needed. No need to get party political about this either.

  4. Jason Flake Reply

    Like the i360, just say NO

  5. Marc Williams Reply

    Park and ride……Just like every major city in America is doing…..Tourist park outside Brighton and bus in ……is it really so complicated????

  6. Eileen Rye Reply

    The labour and Green Party are intent in destroying Brighton .A Green Party that destroys the green areas in the areas leading to the seafront needs explanation .Along with the chaos in Lewes road university sight a sight that was originally designated for social housing which this city desperately needs ,to keep the children of the real Brightonians in our city and not the lovies who seem to have taken over our city along with the Students who are only here for a maximum of 3years .It is time that students votes were for there home towns only.If the council are serous about being for all the people of Brighton they should be looking at the cost of housing in this city clearing out rogue landlords and improving the councils own housing stocks money would be much spent in this way than a road system that only the council want.

  7. grand parade resident Reply

    The road system wasn’t really broke so it didn’t need fixing,yes it’s not the greatest but its a bleeding lot better than what they are doing now

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