Tag Archives: Valley Gardens

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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Bus company’s fears over Valley Gardens

From Brighton & Hove Independent

  • Concern about city-wide traffic jams
  • Two million hours “wasted”
  • Call for Park-&-Ride near A23/A27

Profound concerns about the Valley Gardens redevelopment scheme are revealed in a leaked document prepared by Brighton & Hove Buses.

Read the full story here.

Mazda Fountain Saved

From Brighton & Hove News

The Mazda fountain has been granted a last minute reprieve as part of Labour’s review of the Valley Gardens revamp.

The Mazda fountain by Dominic Alves on Flickr

The Mazda fountain by Dominic Alves on Flickr

More than a thousand people signed a petition started by Brighton journalist and mum Sarah Booker-Lewis after she read about it’s proposed removal on Brighton and Hove News.

One of the first things council leader-elect Warren Morgan did when his part became the largest group on the council was to review the revamp of the roads from St Peter’s to the Old Steine.

The Labour group expressed serious concerns about the financing of the scheme in the run-up to the election, saying the cost estimates were over-optimistic and the council was committing to what could become a money pit.

But because the decision to go ahead has already been made, and £14m of Government funding secured, it’s now too late for them to stop the scheme.

Instead, some changes have been made, including saving the Mazda fountain.

Mrs Booker-Lewis said: “I am delighted the Mazda fountain will stay in Victoria Gardens. Removing it would upset thousands of people.

“Councillors should listen to the public and not get carried away with vanity projects. Thankfully the new administration sees sense.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said:

“The previous Green administration, with support from the Conservatives, has allowed the Valley Gardens scheme to progress to an advanced stage. Despite our reservations, we will now make sure that we take into account fully the concerns of the local residents as the final designs of the scheme are developed. In order to make sure that the scheme will be delivered on time and on budget, we have asked for the most senior people at the council to take charge of the project. In addition, we will consult closely with key stakeholders, such as the bus companies and the police. It is clear that the previous administration had not given the project the focus it requires.

“The Government have given the council £14 million for this project. Returning the money to the Government has never been an option as this would mean that we would jeopardise investment for future projects. What we have to do now is reshape the project as much as we can without giving up the funding.

“Importantly, the last part of the scheme has not yet been finalised. This is the part closest to the seafront and includes the Aquarium roundabout. We will make sure that these plans provide the biggest benefit for our city’s seafront, which, as we know, is in need of significant investment.”

Labour says its changes to the scheme will:

– Make sure the final designs keep traffic flowing at peak times, especially at junctions.

– Make the design fit with the growing Brighton and Hove of the future.

– Put the most senior people at the council in charge of the project to minimise disruption.

– Save the Mazda Fountain.

– Make sure that the final phase of the project is changed so that it brings the maximum benefit to the seafront.

Coun Morgan said: “The next five years will see an unprecedented amount of new development in the city as disused brownfield sites are regenerated and the building of the new hospital gets underway. At the same time our transport infrastructure and seafront needs investment and renewal. Our challenge will be to deliver the projects that will take the city forward while keeping it on the move.

“Returning the funding to the Local Enterprise Partnership was never an option for us and we are determined to maintain our good relationship with regional partners to the benefit of the city and our Sussex neighbours.”