From The Argus –
THE arrival of one of the country’s favourite retailers should be used as a catalyst to improve the city centre’s route to the seafront.
Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) have called for the arrival of John Lewis to spark an overhaul of the Clock Tower junction which would include turning part of West Street into a more pedestrian friendly area.
Group member Chris Todd said he hoped the street could become more like the shared space of New Road and attract a wider range of daytime businesses to the area and boost the local economy.
Under the BHFOE proposals, private vehicles would be stopped from driving north of Churchill Square car park in West Street with just buses and taxis allowed up to the Clock Tower.
Mr Todd said the move would make the area much cleaner and safer with fewer pedestrians making dangerous dashes across the road at the confusing set of lights.
By reducing the amount of traffic coming north from West Street, it is hoped that buses travelling along North Street would have less delays waiting at the Clock Tower lights – currently one of the city’s most polluted junctions.
An uphill cycle lane for North Street to be painted on to the road is also being advocated to coincide with pedestrian improvements already suggested by John Lewis as part of their plans for a new store opening in the next few years.
The retailer is also being encouraged to be innovative in the building design by using low impact materials and green walls and roofs while BHFOE have also raised concerns about the impact of the store’s proposed click and collect service bringing more cars to the heavily congested junction.
Mr Todd said that many of the changes could be achieved at low cost, largely through developer contributions.
He added: “I think New Road has worked fairly well and I really want to see more of that where people are given priority over vehicles. Vehicles don’t spend money, it’s people.
“The system we have at the moment is just not working for people.
“Part of the problem at the moment is that the buses get held up by the traffic lights.
“By allowing buses to run through the lights at the same time without being held up by other traffic, they will run much more efficiently and won’t be sitting around pumping out fumes.
“At the moment you have a handful of private cars at one traffic light holding up buses with tens or hundreds of people on board.”
A John Lewis spokeswoman said: ‘We welcome all feedback from local people during this pre-application consultation period and would like to encourage people to share their views on our proposals with us at johnlewis.com/our-shops/brighton.”