The cost of the final phase of the Valley Gardens project, including replacing the Aquarium roundabout with traffic lights, has risen by £5 million, a new report reveals.
Councillors will next week be asked to approve the final plans – and borrowing £5 million to add to the £7.8 million in funding it has already secured.
The report to Tuesday’s meeting of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee says there have been significant delays to the scheme since February 2019 – partly due to the covid pandemic – and since then, costs have risen.
The final design was developed following feedback received from an eight-week consultation in July 2020 where residents and stakeholders were given the opportunity to comment on details within the project.
These included the location of crossings, cycle lanes, footpaths, bus stops, cycle parking, seating, public areas and tree planting.
Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens project will continue and complete the work to regenerate and improve this busy central area. An investment of £11 million pounds in Phases 1 & 2 has transformed the space between St Peter’s Church and the Old Steine, introducing new events space, wildflower meadows and trees and increased footpath and cycling space to help improve accessibility.
The Phase 3 plan includes:
- New separated cycle lanes, linking phases 1 & 2 of Valley Gardens to the seafront
- Improved access for public transport, supporting more reliable journey times
- An additional taxi rank near the Palace Pier junction as well as retaining two existing ranks
- New obstruction-free (where possible) pavement design
- New trees and landscaping
- Sustainable outdoor event infrastructure
- Improved lighting around Old Steine Gardens (supported by a successful Safer Streets Funding bid)
- Increase in parking bays for Blue Badge holders
- A new junction to replace the existing Palace Pier roundabout, including direct crossing points for pedestrians and cyclists
- Improved setting around the War Memorial
It is expected work can begin on the project later this year.
Steve Davis, co-chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “I’m very excited to see these plans and I can’t wait for work to begin on phase 3.
“It’s really great to see such a good reaction to the beautiful space already completed in Valley Gardens Phases 1 & 2. Phase 3 is the final phase of the project to connect with the seafront with a new, inclusive and sustainable infrastructure which will create a stunning new destination and travel corridor all the way to the Palace Pier.
“It’s great to see that the project has been shaped with the help of city-wide engagement with local residents.
“I’m passionate about the Valley Gardens project. Not only is it supporting better and safer journeys around the city and helping to improve air quality, there are also new trees and lighting, and new public squares.
“At the moment this part of our city is divided by traffic and there is a poor collision history, particularly near the Palace Pier roundabout, which we know attracts huge footfall and could be safer. These improvements mean it will be a much better space for our residents and visitors to enjoy.”
The council has already secured £6 million Local Growth Fund (LGF) capital funding from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and committed £1.84 million match funding.
The financing costs will be addressed through the budget setting process and reported back to Policy & Resources committee in February.
Valley Gardens is the name given to the green spaces that run from St Peter’s Church to the seafront.
The council’s vision for Valley Gardens is to enhance the area’s green spaces and create new public spaces for people to spend time in, which will be linked together to create a single continuous public park.
Simplifying the surrounding road layout and creating dedicated and connected walking and cycling routes will make travelling around the area safe and accessible for residents, commuters and visitors
The first two phases of Valley Gardens, which were completed in September 2020, have seen improvements to open spaces and transport corridors between St Peter’s Church and Old Steine, including new cycle lanes, priority lanes for public transport and landscaped spaces.
Last year, it was nominated for a Major Project Award at the UK Highways Awards 2021.
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