Alternative plans for a controversial road layout scheme in the centre of Brighton are to be shared with councillors this week.
The Valley Gardens Forum, a group of residents and businesses, is due to present its vision for the project known as “Valley Gardens phase 3” to Brighton and Hove City Council at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (24 October).
It proposes keeping bicycles away from the main road traffic in the Old Steine area, making key junctions safer for pedestrians and retaining the Aquarium roundabout.
The project’s main funder, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said that the scheme offered low value for money.
But last week it approved a £6 million grant towards the £8 million cost of phase 3 of the project.
The scheme is intended to make the Valley Gardens area – between St Peter’s Church and the seafront – better for cyclists, pedestrians and those using public transport.
Critics are concerned that phase 3 – the southern end of the scheme – would not only choke traffic but would also choke cyclists and pedestrians as it appears to add to pollution levels by design.
It has attracted widespread opposition from tourism chiefs, business bosses, the taxi trade and some bus companies and passenger groups, among others.
The Forum said: “The council appears to have acknowledged that community and stakeholder involvement may have fallen short over the last year.
“There is talk of inviting residents and business leaders to be part of a ‘task and finish group’ and ‘workshops’ to develop the detailed design.
“To that end, the release of the Valley Gardens Forum’s alternative plan for Valley Gardens phase 3 may be timely.
“First sketched in January this year in response to a request from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), it has been through several iterations with continuing community stakeholder consultation – and is based on the best elements of the council’s earlier design options.
“Forum member Serena Burt will present the attached annotated plan to the full council meeting this week.
“At the same meeting, Conservative councillors Joe Miller and Robert Nemeth will introduce the following motion.
“Ensure that Valley Gardens phase 3 is subject to a full environmental impact assessment and that the Duke’s Mound junction proposal will be subject to a full public consultation in the context that it not only impacts Valley Gardens phase 3 but also impacts on the A259 coastal road and the Waterfront/Blackrock development.
“The Valley Gardens Forum has been calling for a full environmental impact assessment for almost a year.
“The council’s Valley Gardens phase 3 ‘stage 2’ report casually states ‘no air or noise modelling has been undertaken’.
“Satisfying this request need not be politicised. Whether or not required under statute, with citizens’ concerns about the air they breathe close to the top of the local political agenda, why object?
“Following the recent People’s Parliament event, independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh wrote to our three Labour and Green MPs to ask them to support our call for an environmental impact assessment over the whole Valley Gardens project.
“Carrying it out would be a key step in restoring the community’s confidence in the scheme.”