Category Archives: Environment

Valley Gardens roadworks to cause traffic ‘chaos’

From The Argus

An artist’s impression of the Valley Gardens scheme

Every southbound car entering Brighton’s central avenue will be squeezed into a single lane of traffic this summer. Two years of roadworks to redesign traffic flow and pedestrian access around Valley Gardens will begin as early as June.

The decision to start digging up one of the busiest roads in the city during the tourist season was criticised by tourism experts, traders, residents’ groups, public transport pressure groups, taxi companies and unions. Critics have predicted “chaos” and “gridlock” and raised the spectre of tailbacks radiating far beyond the centre of the city. The council said disruption would be mitigated wherever possible.

Meanwhile the roadworks surrounding the Shelter Hall development at the foot of West Street will not finish this summer as planned but will continue until at least next autumn. That development is now projected to cost twice its original £10 million budget, and the council is working on ways to come up with extra money from its own tight resources as well as from central Government.

On Tuesday 6th February, a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board confirmed work on the £11 million Valley Gardens scheme would begin in June, although yesterday a Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said it “hoped” to start work on the highway “towards the end of summer”.

The first phase of the scheme will include closure of one of the two southbound lanes of traffic on the eastern side of Victoria Gardens from near St Peter’s Church. The Valley Gardens development seeks to open up the several, underused green spaces in the centre of the city from St Peter’s Church down to Old Steine.

At present the route is a one way system with two lanes running north, and two south. Once the redevelopment is complete, private vehicles will be restricted to the east of the gardens, with one lane northbound and one lane southbound. On the west, a much quieter road will carry just buses and taxis, northbound and southbound. Extra crossings, extra cycle lanes, and extensive planting and landscaping will make the area easier to access and enjoy on foot.

Yesterday the council said work and diversions would be well publicised and the main route would only occasionally be subject to complete closure.

Anne Ackord, who runs the Palace Pier and speaks for the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, said: “Summer is never the best time to start any disruption. We need to get people in to the city, and we know parking is a problem as it is, so you don’t want anything to get in the way of the best possible summer. At the pier, we’re doing refurbishment work and maintenance now, because it’s winter and it’s quiet. We wouldn’t schedule anything to start later than Easter, because then you damage business.”

Adam Chinnery, chairman of the Seafront Traders Association, said: “It seems very odd, when we get massive domestic tourism that comes right down that road in the summer. And we don’t get nearly as much during the winter. It would seem a lot better to do this kind of project in the winter.”

Steve Percy, chairman of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “It’s going to be an absolute nightmare. I fail to see why Valley Gardens is going to start at the beginning of the tourist season when in fact it should have been started at the end of the season. That’s just common sense.”

Peter Elvidge, secretary of Brighton Area Buswatch, said: “It’s absolutely not the right time of year. “It’s going to be chaos I imagine. The Valley Gardens scheme is going to narrow the road down to a single lane through the roadworks, which will cause huge traffic jams and that will spread throughout the city.”

John Streeter, of Streamline Taxis, said: “I can see this scheme backfiring big time. There’s going to be major tailbacks coming into the city. Summer weekends are very busy and this will have a major impact.”

GMB union branch secretary Mark Turner said: “That’s not very clever timing really is it? That’s the beginning of the summer season, it’s the most important for the city and we’re going to cause major disruption to traffic. It’ll be bad for local businesses – we’ll be saying ‘come to Brighton and be gridlocked’.”

Not everyone was so negative. Theatre Royal manager John Baldock said: “Whenever you did it it’s going to upset somebody. Anything that can improve the city is a good thing, it’s never going to be painless.”

The scheme – originally a Green idea – has cross-party support so opposition politicians have focused on whether the Labour administration will make it happen efficiently.

Green Party spokesman Councillor Pete West said: “My concern is the Labour administration can’t deliver this competently – their project management is not good.

“Once they’ve started digging up, they need to complete within the shortest timeframe to minimise disruption.” 

Conservative Party spokesman Councillor Lee Wares said: “It is essential the Labour administration carefully co-ordinate the construction phases to avoid interrupting all the events our city holds. With Shelter Hall now over-running by a year it is crucial that Labour don’t take their eye off the ball because if they do, it will be a disaster for the city.”

Labour Councillor Alan Robins, the administration’s lead member for tourism, said: “I knew it was going to start, I didn’t know the start date.”

Later in a council statement he said: “Brighton and Hove attracts up to 11 million visitors a year and our marketing activity already encourages visitors to come by train or use other forms of public transport, where possible, as we know that car travel is a major contributor to congestion and poor air quality.”

The Valley Gardens scheme is expected to take around two years.

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Stanmer Park Woodland Management and Protection

From BJOURNAL

Via: Dominic Alves (flickr)

 Stanmer Park’s woods are a great place to enjoy informal recreation but they are in poor condition.

The council has produced a plan to protect the woodland for the long term benefit of the city and is inviting the public to comment.

Find out more and make comments.

Public information sessions will be held on Thursday February 1 and Saturday 3 February 2018 at Stanmer Tea Rooms from 9am to midday.

The draft Woodland Management Plan has been produced by an independent forestry consultant on behalf of the council’s parks projects team.

Before submitting plans to the Forestry Commission, we are seeking the views of interested parties, including park users and residents. The council is hoping to submit the plan for approval by March 2018.

Via: Katariina Järvinen (flickr)

The draft plan sets out how the woodland can be managed over the next 10 years to

  • Maintain and preserve open access.
  • Build resilience against Ash Dieback and other diseases and ensure existing woodland cover is maintained.
  • Increase biodiversity and protect nationally and locally rare flora and fauna.
  • Produce semi commercial timber extraction of coppice products, wood fuel and timber.

The plan is also supporting the Stanmer Restoration Project HLF application by:

  • Protecting historical, archaeological, and environmental elements on the estate.
  • Providing related activities such as rural skills, forest schools and wood based produce.
  • Increasing the city’s offer for volunteering work such as coppicing, pollarding, scrub clearing and general woodland management practices.

Managing the woodland is an important part of the Stanmer Park Restoration project, a joint initiative between Brighton & Hove City Council, Plumpton College and South Downs National Park Authority and funded  by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) .

The plan can also be viewed in full on request at Hollingdean Depot Learning and Resource Centre (please contact the parks projects team 01273 294737 to arrange) and will be available at the Stanmer Tea rooms sessions.

The consultation closes on 12th February 2018.

Via: Dominic Alves (flickr)

Save The Trees Update

Our intrepid fundraising team went door-to-door on Saturday and generated over £500 in pledges!

Here are some of their experiences –

“My abiding memory was of the tiny tot who came to the door with her father. She had a pile of conkers, and I said “You like conkers, don’t you?” And her reply was “Yes, but … they’re for the squirrels”. We explained that if we plant more trees the squirrels will like it, and that some of the old trees will have to come down because they are not well and might fall down. She replied “Yes, but … I saw a squirrel go up a tree and it didn’t fall down!” “

“Generally, the people who answered the door were all nice and supportive. No-one said “Gosh, that’s a lot of money for 6 trees” or anything like that!”

“I met a lady coming out of the house with a small dog, we chatted about the trees and I invited her to consider where her dog would wee if the trees were all gone. She said she would pledge.”

“I was taken aback today when my neighbour promptly pledged £150. He is a fellow teacher and his generosity, and those of others, when times are difficult for many was heart warming.”

Please can you help? Any amount you can afford would be very gratefully received. It’s only by community action that we can restore and preserve these precious assets for future generations.

We have now reached £1670, 79% of the target, with some very generous pledges but of course we need more, another £445. 

You can pledge here – https://www.spacehive.com/springfield-road-trees.

Very many thanks to those who have already made pledges.

Bridget, Edward, Jim and Nicola.

Save Our Trees Goes Live!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know a conker tree can live over two hundred years? Can you help us? It will be a gift to our children into the 23rd century. For enquiries email southdownrise@gmail.com

We are a sub-group of Southdown Rise Residents Association formed to replace and preserve lost and damaged trees, initially in Springfield Road where the groundwork and liaison with the Council has already taken place. It is hoped that if this initiative is a success residents of other streets in our area will be able to follow this example.

Walk the Brighton & Hove Way this weekend!

From Corinna Edwards-Colledge

What our Healthwalk Leader, Maire, doesn’t know about the places to walk in Brighton & Hove isn’t worth knowing!  From this Friday she is leading walks over 4 days (from Friday 20th October to Monday 23rd October) to cover the  18 mile length of the Brighton & Hove Way which was opened by the mayor in April.  Here are the details if you’d like to join her:

East Side – West Side Walk:

Each walk will be 4-5 miles in length and starts at 10.45am: 

  • Friday 20th October – from Saltdean Library (Buses 12, 12a, 14, 14c, 27 & 47) to Castle Hill car park (Buses 2, 2a & 22)
  • Saturday 21st October – from Castle Hill car park (off B2123 Falmer Road at junction with Bexhill Rd.  Buses 2, 2a & 22) to Upper Lodges car park (Stanmer Park) (79 bus*)
  • Sunday 22nd October – from Stanmer Park Upper Lodges (79 bus*) to Patcham (Buses 5 & 5a)
  • Monday 23rd October – from the junction of Vale Avenu& Church Hill, Patcham (5 & 5a)  to Portslade.

Best wishes

Corinna

Active for Life Manager

Healthy Lifestyles Team, Public Health

Brighton & Hove City Council, Bartholomew House, Bartholomew Square, Brighton BN1 1JE

01273 292564  www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/healthwalks

Twitter: @HealthwalksBH  Facebook: brightonhovehealthwalks

New recycling bins are ‘unsuitable’ for some

From The Argus

Recycling bins wheeled out across the city have been called “totally unsuitable for certain streets” after residents complained or requested replacements.

Brighton and Hove city councillors have voiced the concerns of residents who think the 240 litre grey wheelie bins “look dreadful”, are blocking pavements and causing a hazard for disabled or elderly people and those using pushchairs.

Wish ward councillors Robert Nemeth and Garry Peltzer Dunn have written to Geoff Raw, the council’s chief executive, addressing problems with the bins faced by residents in the Poets’ Corner area of Hove.

Councillor Nemeth said: “We received many complaints about the new grey bins. Residents felt they just turned up out of the blue.

“The message was lost in communication. We knocked on around 800 doors and just over 50 per cent answered.

“Issues raised include them being too heavy, people having no front gardens to store bins and steps getting in the way, the general communication and administration of the bins behind the scenes, younger residents leaving bins on pavements and we received many complaints from mothers with buggies.”

Brighton and Hove City Council replaced stackable black plastic tubs for recycled waste with the large wheelie bins in June as part of a £1.1 million roll out, after trial schemes showed the larger bins increased recycling rates by four per cent.

Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: “People didn’t know what they were going to be getting so it was difficult to say they didn’t want it.

“We have heard comments from people saying that councils are only good for rubbish.

“It is not the majority but the minority who are concerned.”

The letter from both councillors states: “Houses on Stoneham Road, for example, are fronted by a narrow strip garden with waist-height walls along the pavement and knee-height walls along front paths.

“As the default bin is the larger size, tens of residents have requested a smaller replacement.

“Some residents have found it necessary to get rid of their grey wheelie bins entirely.

“We have had many reports of obstructions including one report from a disabled wheelchair user who had to turn around and go all the way back to the bottom of a street because her way was blocked entirely.”

Dick Page, ward councillor for Hanover and Elm Grove, said the “pavement clutter” causing obstructions was not just confined to Poets’ Corner.

About 45,000 bins have already been delivered out of the planned 60,000.

£300m plan to regenerate Preston Barracks approved

From The Argus

The £300 million transformation of a Georgian barracks site is set to go ahead after developers were given planning permission.

The University of Brighton proposal was unanimously approved by Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee yesterday.

Developers U+I will carry out the work to regenerate Preston Barracks in Lewes Road and the university’s Moulsecoomb campus.

The regeneration of Preston Barracks is predicted to generate £500 million for the city economy and create around 1,500 jobs, according to the university’s vice chancellor Debra Humphris.

Plans for the site, which has been derelict for 20 years, include building 369 homes, 1,338 student bedrooms and a new home for the university’s business school before 2021.

Professor Humphris said: “The university has been part of the city for 150 years.

“This development will go a considerable way to reducing pressure on local housing and reduce the need for cars and travel.

“We are committed to improving sustainability. It will provide a stunning new gateway into the city.”

The designs have undergone months of public consultation resulting in a number of objections. Among them are questions over the project’s viability, air pollution created by increased car parking and traffic, transport and congestion, lack of affordable housing and the effect it will have on Saunders Park View and Coombe Road residents.

During the meeting yesterday, Rebecca Barkaway, a member of the Coombe Road Area Local Action Team, said: “We are being transformed into the university’s campus.

“In an area that is already overwhelmed by a student community this just seems a step too far.

“We want to see investment in local provisions.

“We believe the 369 non-student houses should have a covenant placed on them so they don’t become HMOs.

“We also want to see money spent on improving the Saunders Park area.”

Environmental campaign group Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) objected to the proposed increase in parking across the development.

The group argued it would lead to increased traffic and air pollution. The group claimed that if built the development would keep air pollution levels above the legal limit.

More than 400 responses were received supporting the development before the meeting.

The original proposal was revised to include 19 additional homes, a reduction in the height of certain buildings, additional community facilities and a transport plan.

A new pedestrian bridge across Lewes Road will be built as well as new squares and crossings which are designed to improve pedestrian access.

Cycle docks and more than 1,000 cycle parking spaces are included in the plans, as well as 30 spaces for bicycles used as part of the city’s new bike hire scheme.

In March, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner requested more money to cover the cost of more officers and staff set up costs, investment in IT operations, additional vehicles and the cost of supporting additional officers, as a result of the proposed development.

Andy Taylor, who represented the commissioner at the meeting, repeated the submission for £217,336 to fund the cost of extra policing to accompany the development.

The planning committee agreed not to support the request for more money to fund extra policing.

Richard Upton, deputy chief executive of U+I, said: “This is a major milestone for the Preston Barracks project, one of the largest and most ambitious regeneration projects to have been brought forward in Brighton for a number of years.

“We have the opportunity to transform this area of Brighton, which has been derelict for 20 years and deliver a huge number of benefits to the local community and the wider city.

“Our Circus Street project is also moving forward at great pace, regenerating another important part of the city.

“We will deliver world class, imaginative urban design on each project, building on the bohemian audacity of the Prince Regent and leaving a lasting legacy that befits such an inspirational city.”