Seafront arches to be rebuilt in £10m two-year project

From Brighton & Hove News

Arches on Brighton seafront are to be rebuilt as part of a £10 million project lasting more than two years that will also shore up the main road above.

Some of the money will be spent on rebuilding the Shelter Hall – the Victorian hall on the promenade opposite the bottom of West Street.

Work will start next although some of the preparations have already started on the prom below the A259 King’s Road.

The scheme will mean drivers enduring more lane closures. Part of the road was coned off after a hole opened up in April last year. The road fully reopened in January but Brighton and Hove City Council said further work would be needed.

The council said “Brighton and Hove was one of only relatively few councils to win funding from the government’s Highways Maintenance Challenge Fund.

“The council secured £9 million to undertake the work which will also save the seafront road from collapse and protect it for the future.

“The scheme will rebuild the historic Shelter Hall to become a flagship commercial location for the 21st century, creating a new walkway on the beach, enlarging the upper prom area and building new public toilets on the seafront.

“Preparatory work has begun on realignment of the lower promenade opposite the bottom of West Street. Construction is planned to start in October.

“As the work progresses, one lane of the westbound carriageway will be shut for a distance of about 50 metres either side of the bottom of West Street. The junction will include a filter for right turns into West Street.

“Due to the age of the structure and complexity of the construction, the closure is expected to be in place from 2016 for two and a half years.

“The Shelter Hall, at 150-154 King’s Road Arches, was built in the 1880s supporting the upper promenade and the highway.

“This is now the main coastal route through the city and engineers will be rebuilding it underneath the road.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, who chairs the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said:  “We have a once in a generation opportunity to do this work and we are fortunate to have secured funding to completely rebuild a section of the seafront highway, provide a new sea wall and reconstruct an historic building.

“This is the first stage of our investment into the seafront’s infrastructure which is urgently in need of restoration and regeneration.

“The project is not only essential for the seafront but will protect the A259 for the next 150 years.

“If we don’t do it now, we risk the road becoming unusable and being closed entirely.

“This autumn we will bring forward more solutions to save our seafront as we put together a practical programme to regenerate the city’s jewel in the crown.”

Brighton’s Shelter Hall is part of the historic King’s Road Arches. It is currently closed because it is in such a poor condition.

The council said that the work, including the rebuilding of the Shelter Hall, had to be done to prevent the A259 from collapsing.

A spokesman for one of the key property owners in the area, Standard Life Investments, welcomed the news.

The company is the council’s partner for the Waterfront Project – the proposal to extend Churchill Square to the seafront and build a new Brighton Centre for concerts and conferences at Black Rock.

James Stevens, head of UK development at Standard Life Investments, said: “Standard Life Investments welcomes the council’s proposals to rebuild Shelter Hall and reconfigure the junction above.

“This project supports two of the city’s most important assets – the seafront and the transport network.

“Making the city as easy to move around as possible is as important as protecting the seafront and the existing infrastructure.

“It’s great to see this confidence in the city and we’re sure it will help to encourage other investors to get started on their own projects.”

The council is contributing nearly £1.7 million towards the scheme from Local Transport Plan funding.

The project will be overseen by the team which created the award-winning seafront arches restoration near the i360 development.

The council said that it would make sure that disruption to traffic was kept to a minimum. It added that the partial lane closure would be linked to an overall plan to ensure traffic management was coordinated with other major schemes in the city.

During the work to rebuild the Shelter Hall, shared pedestrian and cycle access along the upper prom would be maintained at all times, along with access to the lower prom.

The West Street junction would also be kept open, including access to Churchill Square and the car parks.

Last year, a council scrutiny panel looked into the state of the seafront infrastructure in Brighton. In a report it said that new revenue sources would be crucial to maintaining the seafront.

Public funds would be insufficient, it said, to meet the projected £100 million repairs bill for aging retaining walls and structures.

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