Brighton & Hove has been granted £8 million of government funding to transform the heart of the city, following a successful application by the Green-led Brighton & Hove City Council.
This brings to £70 million the amount of external funding that has been won for city improvements during the Greens’ tenure so far.
The money from the Local Transport Board of the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), approved at a meeting this week at Brighton Town Hall, will fund the Valley Gardens scheme.
This will provide major visual enhancements to the gardens and streetscape, creating a single city centre park stretching from St Peter’s Church to the Royal Pavilion, and will improve walking, cycling and public transport links while ensuring journey times for cars and other traffic are maintained.
Key elements include:
– routing general traffic along the east side of the gardens
– a bus, taxi and local traffic route on the west side of the gardens
– redesigned junctions to improve traffic flow
– a new network of cycle lanes and pedestrian routes
– easier access to and across the gardens
– hundreds of trees planted to revitalise as a city centre park.
Green councillor and transport lead, Ian Davey, said, “This is brilliant news for the city: a ‘thumbs up’, at national and regional level, for the Green administration’s ideas for improving travel and the local environment.
“The project will carry on the fine work that has been done at The Level, and the ongoing improvements at the iconic St Peter’s Church, stretching down through the gardens to the Royal Pavilion, transforming this green heart of our city.
“As well as linking together the historic open spaces to create a new city centre park, the simplified transport routes accompanying it will improve journey times for everybody whether they are walking, cycling, using a bus or taxi, or driving.
“We’ve spent a great deal of time working with the local community to develop the proposals and are very grateful for everyone’s input. We are also grateful to the regional Coast to Capital local Transport Body for finalising this grant.
Ian added, “I welcome the Local Transport Board’s assessment of our business case as being ‘robust and fit for purpose’ while offering ‘very high value for money’.”
The scheme will deliver an estimated £40m worth of benefits over 20 years from improved health, shorter journey times, less pollution, better business links, improved retail frontages, new housing and offices, training and tourism.
The business case says that traffic hold-ups (ignoring current temporary road works on Edward St) are dictated by the capacity of junctions, not the road space, so car journey times should not increase if general traffic is changed to one lane in each direction, with a second lane at junctions where required.
Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme will cost an estimated £9.6m with £8m from the LEP, and the remainder from money secured from developers in planning agreements and the council’s capital programme.
A further £6 million LEP funding has been earmarked for Phase 3 of the scheme which aims to extend the improvements all the way to the Aquarium roundabout by the seafront.
Ian expressed concern about recent statements by Labour Group leader, Councillor Warren Morgan, opposing the scheme: “It’s staggering that the Labour Party, who were completely behind this project when they were last in power, have in opposition withdrawn their support and threatened to scrap it.
“This is not funding that can be redirected to other services and so abandoning the project would mean having to return the £8m to central government as well as losing the additional £6m that has been promised for phase 3.
“It could also destroy the credibility of the local authority with funding bodies, threatening a further £12m worth of bids that we currently have being considered, including a much needed £9m for further reconstruction of the seafront.”
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.
In addition to a total of £14million for Valley Gardens, £12million bids are currently being considered including: £9m for seafront repairs, £2million for an intelligent transport system and £1million for a cycle share scheme.
Details of the project and the city council’s business case can be seen on the council’s website and the Coast to Capital website: