£8m for Valley Gardens improvements a step closer
Millions of pounds of government funding is set to be finally approved for a scheme to improve travel and revitalise Valley Gardens in the heart of Brighton.
The Local Transport Board, part of the Coast To Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is recommending that £8m of Local Growth Fund money is invested in the council’s Valley Gardens project and will make a final decision at a meeting on Wednesday February 18.
This aims to improve walking, cycling and public transport between St Peter’s Church and the Royal Pavilion, with no increase in car journey times.
The Local Transport Board’s (LTB) decision is based on a written business case presented by the city council. This details around £40m worth of benefits over 20 years – bringing returns valued at four times the original investment. These would come from improved health, faster journeys, less pollution, better business links, improved retail frontages, new housing and offices, training and tourism.
Environmental engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff independently assessed the business case for the LTB, concluding it offered “very high value for money.”
Key elements would involve routing general traffic along the east side of the valley, buses and taxis in a ‘park road’ to the west. There would be an improved network of cycle lanes and pedestrian routes. Hundreds of trees would be planted and green space increased, to improve and revitalise the gardens.
A crucial effect would be to remove a perceived barrier between the east and west of the city, encouraging economic growth on the Kemp Town side.
The business case says car journey times should not increase if general traffic was changed to mainly one lane in each direction. It says hold-ups are dictated by the capacity of junctions, not road space.
Building Phases 1 and 2 of the scheme would cost an estimated £9.6m. The LTB is likely to provide £8m, if agreed at its transport meeting on February 18. The remainder would come from the council’s capital programme, plus money secured from developers in planning agreements.
Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said: “We’re really thrilled by the LTB’s recommendation and are now very hopeful this will happen. This proves that the ideas we have for improving travel and the environment locally have received approval at national and regional level. Working with the local community, we've spent a lot of time developing proposals to transform this area for the better – and now it looks like we have the money to deliver those improvements.”
A so-called ‘urgency’ meeting of the environment transport and sustainability committee has been convened for Monday February 16 to discuss the LTB’s recommendation ahead of their final decision on the 18.
Brighton & Hove City Council press office 01273 291035/3033