Work to start soon on final phase of £13m Valley Gardens scheme

Construction is due to start soon on the third and final phase of the £13 million Valley Gardens project after the final public consultation.

Brighton and Hove City Council consulted on draft traffic regulation orders (TRO) to authorise changes to parking, bus lanes and traffic management over the past couple of months.

Some 62 responses were received, according to a report to the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee last night (Tuesday 14 March).

Of those, 57 supported the proposals and five contained objections, with three of the objections from the same person.

Green councillor Steve Davis said that the final stage of the project was a “real legacy” for the administration that he had been “incredibly proud to be part of”.

At the final meeting of the committee before the council elections in May, Councillor Davis thanked Labour and Conservative councillors for their support and “collegiate” working behind the scenes.

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said: “The vision for Valley Gardens, which was started by Labour, was 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, in the most sustainable way.

“Phase three of the Valley Gardens scheme will improve access to public transport services and ease of movement throughout the area while improving access to the seafront.”

Councillor Wilkinson was concerned about narrow pavements and shared space as he feared pedestrians might walk into cycle lanes.

Council officials said that he could take a closer look at the plans and raise any concerns that he might have with them.

Green councillor Jamie Lloyd quipped that the Valley Gardens scheme was described as a “Green vanity project” by former Labour council leader Warren Morgan.

He said: “Apparently – this is quite funny – I had no idea that Valley Gardens is also a Green vanity project as described by someone called Councillor Warren Morgan back in God knows when.

Councillor Jamie Lloyd

“I thought that the first time that phrase was used was at ‘budget council’ but, apparently, it has a long and august history in this city.

“I must get a T-shirt made with it on.”

In her party’s defence, Councillor Nancy Platts said that the project had a “great champion” in former Labour councillor Gill Mitchell.

The final phase of the project is about to start two and a half years after work finished on the first and second phases in September 2020.

New segregated cycle lanes are planned to run from Victoria Gardens to the seafront through new pedestrianised areas in front of the Royal Pavilion and south of Old Steine.

Plans include a T-junction and traffic lights to replace the Aquarium Roundabout and outdoor events space.

A diagram illustrating the final phase of the Valley Gardens scheme

Phase three was originally slated to cost £7.8 million but the bill has now risen to almost £13 million because of significant delays partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The council agreed to borrow an extra £5 million in January last year to add to the £6 million government funding through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and the £1.84 million that the council had already committed to the scheme.

The redrawing of road layouts has gone through several incarnations and councils of all political colours since it was first mooted more than 15 years ago by Gill Mitchell.

Councillors unanimously agreed to authorise the construction of the new road layout and park area.

  1. Donna P Reply

    A disaster in the making – you can tell as cllr Lloyd is singing its praises. As shown with the recent Hanover LTN, the Greens will lie, cheat and deceive to get their way .
    The Green Gift!

    • Peter Challis Reply

      And I imagine the 57 responders to the survey who, allegedly, supported the scheme were from pro-cycling activists such as Bricycles and Brighton Active Travel, some of whom actually live in the city.

      • TanonymouS Reply

        The overall attitude from cyclists towards the integration of cycle paths within pedestrian space has largely been negative. In my mind it ought to follow the road which would allow for a much better connection to the existing cycle network.

      • Gareth Hall Reply

        Good to see the old adage that ‘if you don’t agree with me then you have no right to comment’ is alive and well

  2. Brighton Born Reply

    Ha ha – out come the moaners!

    I work bang on this route and travel in every day by bus, bike, and sometimes even by car. The Valley Gardens Scheme is a resounding success from my experience. The area looks great, particularly during Spring when the gardens come alive, and are sufficiently pleasant to spend a relaxing lunch break. Travel in and out of the city during rush hours is generally manageable – cycling is the fastest mode to/from Patcham.

    On a sunny day, I enjoy a jog out to the marina, or bike ride out to Rottingdean. Over the years, I’ve watched Madeira drive slowly improving and look forward to the regeneration Sea Lanes will bring. (Hats off the the team at Bison who I think really pioneered turning that area into a commercial viable space). The aquarium roundabout remains the only hurdle to an enjoyable trip out along the promenade and just isn’t right for pedestrians or cyclists. Fingers crossed the proposed changes improve things, and I think they will.

    Lots to be happy about here. Well done.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Thanks Adam from Shoreham 😉

    • mart Burt Reply

      Brighton Born
      Here comes another one who can’t see the wood for the trees, but by their comments and the words used, more than likely a green councillor .

      I too work in and around the city and use buses when I can.
      Our opinions on VG differ I’m afraid.
      VG a resounding success, exactly what a councillor told us when the thing first opened that just happened to be during the lockdown, strange that.
      The area looks great, hmm, not been down there recently then, looks a shambles after various events churn up the grass areas and looks a right mess. No toilets, insufficient rubbish bins.
      Travel in and out of the city during rush hours is generally manageable except at weekends when traffic blocks the whole of St peters place for most of the day.
      All bus journeys take longer on this stretch and they no longer have priority like they used too.

      It’s great you jog and cycle, well done on that.#

      I’ve watched Madeira drive slowly decaying for decades, if you call closure of the terraces an improvement then seriously you need help.

      The aquarium roundabout is one of the busiest hubs being a Main trunk road that works quite well as it is. Yes it could be improved to better accommodate cyclist and pedestrians but removing it completely for the proposed traffic lights and junctions isn’t the answer.
      It has already been sited as being poor value for money with very little benefit.

      We often enjoy a nice day out along the promenade and never had a problem with crossing the roads to gain access, why you believe the current system isn’t right for pedestrians or cyclists is hard to work out, perhaps explain the difficulties for pedestrians who should be using the lights to cross the road and not walk around the roundabout.

      We have already been informed by BHCC that this scheme will increase congestion so a backward step, but that’s just my opinion.

      • BTNResident Reply

        Don’t you remember the state of this area before they did the works? You can’t deny that it is SOME improvement, even if it’s not to your liking.

        I think this third stage really needs to be done – right now the cycle lanes just end at the pavilion and it’s really confusing to know where to go next. I wouldn’t consider myself a cyclist at all but I have used the hire bikes in the past and the situation is daunting if you don’t cycle often.

        Also pedestrian access towards the end (I’m thinking around Revenge and towards the bottom of st James Street) can be tricky if you want to go anywhere other than the seafront – some pedestrians take risky manoeuvres to get where they are going.

        The only negative I can think of with this scheme is as you say around St Peters church / the level there is about 20 meters of bus lane which actually causes the traffic to back up and block the junction there when traffic is busy. But realistically I think this problem could be solved with a rethink of the traffic lights or streamline the lanes somehow.

        Anyway I thought I’d respond because I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom – I think it’s an imperfect improvement on the way it used to be.

        • mart Burt Reply

          Thanks for the reply.
          As I said I work in and around the city and have done for decades, so I know how the city looked. For me as a bus user, there’s been a increase in journey times between St Peter’s and the Old Steine and in fact into town itself, so no improvement for public transport, a vital part of people’s lives when you have appointments to keep, change buses etc.
          I have no doubt the gardens can be nice, but the mess left behind that resembled the Somme wasn’t pleasant, nor is all the fumes that drift across from the congestion caused by stationary traffic that builds up from St Peters all the way to the seafront, and why, two lanes reduced to one.
          So no improvement on traffic, in fact has made it worse.
          No I’m not impressed, no toilets, bins a joke too, but it hardly looks good.

          I agree that something for the cyclists needs to be looked, but removing the roundabout isn’t the answer.
          I’m interested in your comments about your not a cyclist and find it confusing. Not sure if you have a driving licence or any driving experience.
          The problem is, cyclists who don’t drive and never read the rules of the road often are those who put themselves in danger. But you are right, cycle lanes just stop and that’s poor planning.
          I’m sure you will agree cycle lanes should be joined up to allow you to flow with all other traffic. I think you should have textile lane around the roundabout that gives you priority.

          Interesting comment about the Revenge, agree access to the seafront shouldn’t be a problem but going anywhere else is a bit dicey, and yes something should be done but these plans just don’t seem logical to me.
          All Buses will head towards St James’s Street then turn left and conflict with buses heading into town, anybody done a risk assessment here, how often have we got off a bus and walked between them at this stop?

          The only negative I can think of with this scheme is as you say around St Peters church / the level there is about 20 meters of bus lane which actually causes the traffic to back up and block the junction there when traffic is busy. Bang on agree with that 100%, but the other way, traffic delay buses waiting to turn right into St Peters Place, here I think should be a yellow box junction.

          Thank you very much for replying, it’s nice to be challenged and given a view by someone sensible with some good P.O.V that I accept and respect and we have agreed on somethings, that is always good.

    • Keith Reply

      A success?
      Yet you type, “cycling is the fastest mode to/from Patcham” which has buses going from Old Steine to Patcham. So why are you getting there faster? Are you obeying red lights? Are the buses getting choked in traffic schemes?

      That screams failure rather than success.

  3. Seafront resident Reply

    Can Councillor Lloyd explain the councils’ all-out war against the motorised vehicle when vehicles are all being switched to EV?
    Can he further explain how the gridlocking VG3 to the main gateway of the city is supposed to;
    a. Reduce congestion and pollution?
    b. Support the local economic recovery of a prime tourist resort with no park and ride and an unreliable rail service and a poor coach service for visitors
    C. Aid bus users who are set to lose useful stops?
    If not, can he please step down?

  4. Sounds good Reply

    Looks fab. Between this, the bike path and reduction of traffic on Madeira Drive, Sealanes and the upcoming Madeira Terrace restorations, the future of the eastern portion of the seafront is really exciting.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      Well, possibly exciting if you are a cyclist who doesn’t like swimming in the sea – otherwise how would you recommend getting there, and what would you do?

      • Sounds good Reply

        Walk there? Brighton is a very walkable city and it’s great exercise!

        • mart Burt Reply

          Sounds good
          Hmm, walk, Don’t think my sister, niece’s and nephews will be walking from Southampton do you ?

          • Sounds good

            That would be quite an undertaking and I was having more the locals in mind. As great as it is to share our beautiful city with visitors, it is the locals that live here after all, so it’s lovely to see projects like this which will benefit them.

            I understand your desire to see your family however, but fear not, trains operate frequently between Brighton and Southampton. If they’re particularly keen to play some beach volleyball down on Madeira Drive and the little ones’ legs aren’t quite up to the task of walking that far, there are also frequent buses between the station and Marine Parade.

          • mart Burt

            Sounds good 17 March 2023 at 12.02am
            Ha ha thanks for the reply, I was being a bit sarcastic tbh.
            Yes there are Trains but every weekend there’s a railway replacement service somewhere on the network that can take forever. For instance replacement bus from Southampton all the way to Havant/Chichester took almost three hours before getting on a train.
            That is part of the problem.

  5. Simon Reply

    Not sure of a couple of things here.
    1 how is it a legacy for this adminstration when it was signed off over 5 years ago?

    2 if 57 people respond out of 350 000, how is that a valid consoltation?

    3 why do we care what soon to be unelected councilor Jamie Lloyd thinks about a previous administration.

  6. Mark Reply

    Looks great, glad to see they’re finally getting on with this. A huge improvement to the mess we have there currently.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Looks totally rubbish imo.
      Yes getting on with it at the best possible time, with Western Road already out of action, Works started on Hove, then there’s the marina and we must not forget works on the seafront and I’m sure there will be more and with summer just round the corner what a right out mess.
      Lets not start shouting what an improvement it is until the works are done, but I doubt it will be anything but on the history of the schemes these fools have gifted this city.

  7. Patcham Guy Reply

    Let’s be clear, this is a great scheme, and will reverse years of decline,[the area looked brilliant 40 years ago]. However the council will have to ensure that the ‘events’ do not immediately cancel out the improvements which is very likely what will happen. Incidently it looks like most of the money is coming from central government,[food for thought]. The council,[whoever they may be] now needs to secure funding for the whole of Madeira Terrace and get the job done. Councillors from all parties should be working together for this.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Patcham Guy
      Lets be clear, this is not a great scheme, officially already been sited by the lenders as being of poor value for money with little benefit.

      From what we’ve seen at VG 1/2, Events have already ruined the so called improvements so already failed on that one.

      This council had the opportunity to get funding for the MT but decided VG was a more important scheme. BHCC have tried unsuccessfully to get funding for MT as they got it for VG instead.
      My Priority would have been MT first, then the vanity projects.

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