From The Argus –
Talks to finally bring a park and ride to Brighton and Hove have been revived.
The Argus can reveal bus bosses and key public figures are discussing using Mill Road as a temporary 550 space park and ride with a view to it becoming a permanent, 2,000 car seven-day operation.
It comes as fresh calls for urgent decisions are made before the city sees an influx of visitors when the i360 opens this summer.
The idea for the site, which is already used as a park and ride for match days and special events, is in its early stages and no formal proposals have yet been made.
Brighton and Hove Buses have been discussing the idea with Brighton and Hove City Council and the South Downs National Park Authority (SNPA), and bus company managing director Martin Harris described it as an “important part of a strong transport strategy for the city”.
He said: “We have indicated our commitment to investing in park and ride ourselves if viable solutions can be found. It is still very early days in terms of any specific solutions or locations and there is a lot of work still to be done before we can talk about the possibilities in any detail.”
Soozie Campbell, chairman of the Tourism Alliance (TA), said a park and ride could be up and running “quite quickly” and the council was “focused on developing the Mill Road site”.
She said: “Our need is becoming increasingly desperate [with i360 opening in the summer].”
A quarter of a million visitors are expected in the first three months of the i360 opening, with up to 800,000 visitors a year.
Ken Norman, the councillor for the Withdean ward, which encompasses Mill Road, said: “It’s a good idea for the city but whether it’s the right place is another matter.”
A 30-acre QLeisure site at Albourne, off the A23, continues to be suggested as a second location so eventually there would be capacity for 5,000 cars.
Councillor Robert Nemeth, an environment, transport and sustainability committee member, said: “With so many new attractions on the horizon it is necessary to again seriously consider park and ride.”
Committee chairman Gill Mitchell welcomed the bus company’s “commitment” to explore ideas but said it was too early to say how discussions would progress.
A SNPA spokesman said: “We have advised that any potential new car parking site on this scale within the national park is likely to be considered a major development and, as such, would face a number of significant hurdles. For sites outside of the national park we will give our consideration and comments as part of the formal consultation if and when a planning application is submitted.”
Over the years scores of sites have been suggested but plans have been shelved.
At present visitors are encouraged to park for free at the Withdean Sports Complex and pay standard fares on a number 27 bus nearby.