A controversial road layout scheme in the centre of Brighton looks likely to be given a £6 million government grant.
The scheme, known as Valley Gardens Phase 3, involves remodelling the Old Steine road layout and replacing the Aquarium roundabout with traffic lights.
A decision is due to be made early next month by the board of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The board is expected to follow the advice of the LEP’s Investment Committee which supported the £8 million scheme at a meeting this month.
Coast to Capital said that the committee was satisfied that the council had met the relevant funding criteria and the conditions set for the project.
Members recommended that the board approves the funding.
The latest phase of the scheme has attracted considerable opposition, in particular from an alliance of residents and businesses known as the Valley Gardens Forum.
While the forum appears to have delayed the final funding decision, the council looks set to be given the crucial LEP funding.
East Brighton neighbourhood activist Adrian Hart said: “The stop/start congestion nightmare these radical road layout changes will cause is now being openly defended as the nudge that will shift people from cars.
“Proponents simply shrug and say, ‘eventually less cars will equal less congestion will equal less poisonous air … so problem solved!’
“Yet, no traffic modelling has been undertaken nor an ‘environmental impact assessment’ for a £6 million scheme that Brighton will be stuck with for a generation.
“Cities across the UK should beware ‘climate emergency’ policy driven by those who likely live in leafy suburbs and care little about the air some of the poorest communities breathe.
“So roll on a Clean Air Act that will hold as criminally liable those in public office who knew deaths from air pollution were being gambled on but pressed ahead with their schemes regardless.”
Councillor Anne Pissaridou, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “We are very pleased that the Coast to Capital Investment Committee will be recommending their board approves funding for the next stage of the Valley Gardens project.
“This is essential for our city to address environmental challenges and contributes to our aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“Valley Gardens is a key part of our commitment to improve the city’s environment and make the city more sustainable for everyone.
“The completed scheme will open up our much-loved landmarks, create a destination central park in the middle of the city and help us move towards being a more sustainable city.”
The council said that it would “continue to engage with all stakeholders and the wider public to ensure the success of Phase 3 of the project”.
It said: “Their views will be used to help create a safe accessible space for everyone while providing the infrastructure needed to meet the pace and scale of the city’s environmental challenges.
“Valley Gardens aims to improve the environment, open space and travel experience for people using the green spaces, roads and pavements from St Peter’s Church to the Palace Pier.
“Phase 3 is the area from the Old Steine to the Palace Pier. Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens scheme will be primarily funded by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund.
“Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme are well under way, with significant changes already made to improve the road layout and open spaces from St Peter’s Church to Edward Street and introduce new paths for cycling and walking.
“More than 150 trees will be planted as part of the scheme to create a new central park.
“Phase 3 will continue this work to extend the co-ordinated sustainable transport links and open public spaces through the city centre and down to the sea.
“When complete, the Valley Gardens project will improve road safety and ease of movement through the area, as well as create an exciting and attractive destination for visitors to spend time in with new landscaping, planting and public squares.”
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