16 July 2014

Valley Gardens money could tackle notorious seafront junction

Funding looks likely to be available to make one of Brighton’s most chaotic junctions safer - under plans to improve traffic flows and create a new urban park in the city centre.

The Aquarium roundabout, pictured, lies on Brighton seafront between the Sea Life Centre and the Palace Pier, forming the junction of the A259 and A23.

The council hopes to include the location in its Valley Gardens improvement scheme.  The authority has already submitted the business case necessary to secure £8m of government funding to cover the area from St Peter’s Church to the Royal Pavilion. 

The council says this would bring £40m of economic benefits.  These would come from improved health, faster journeys, less pollution, better business links, improved retail frontages, new housing and offices, training and tourism. 

However last week the government announced £14m would now be earmarked for the scheme under its Growth Fund.  The additional £6m would mean the improvements could be extended to the seafront.

Meanwhile the council has received another boost for the Valley Gardens scheme – an additional £895,000 from a second government fund aimed at improving sustainable transport. 

Under the law, money allocated for transport schemes such as Valley Gardens cannot be used for other things.

Deputy council leader and lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said: “This is a really exciting project and we are delighted that the government has recognised the benefits that transforming this area from The Level to the sea can bring. The scheme will bring us a new city centre park together with transport infrastructure that works better for everybody. The extra money announced last week will allow us to complete the project including looking again at the Aquarium roundabout to see how one of the worst junctions in the city can be made safer and improved for all road users.

“It’s great the government is supporting these measures to improve access for all forms of transport and enhance the appearance and atmosphere of this crucial part of the seafront.”

Simplified road layouts are key to the Valley Gardens plan.  Private vehicles would be allocated to a tree-lined ‘avenue’ on the east side of the valley, designed to soften traffic impact.  Buses and taxis would be placed on a Park Road, on the west side.  This would be easily crossed by pedestrians, meaning the green space would be better linked to the city.  

There would be a 700m segregated cycle lane running north-south.  A new water gardens would cope with flash flooding. Hundreds of trees would be planted, creating an arboretum and enhancing the National Elm Collection.