5 October 2015

Study to ensure no extra Valley Gardens jams

Extra studies will be undertaken to ensure any changes to Brighton’s Valley Gardens regeneration scheme do not add to traffic jams.

An independent review of the plans has taken place following concerns that proposals had been changed, reducing traffic to one lane in each direction in some spots.  The review has concluded extra traffic modelling is needed.

Overall, the plan seeks to simplify the road layout and improve the park – without increasing car journey times.

New data will be gathered in October, and a report prepared for the environment and transport committee in March 2016.  In the meantime the Local Enterprise Partnership has indicated it would keep available around £8m of government Local Growth Fund grants for the scheme.

Funding was won based on a business case which used traffic modelling dating from 2011.  However councillors point out there have since been significant changes to the local road network. These include new bus lanes in Lewes Road and Edward Street, plus the Brighton Station Gateway project.

Initial findings of the independent review by engineers Project Centre say new modelling is needed to predict the likely effect on traffic flows, particularly where Edward Street and Church Street meet north of the Royal Pavilion.

The new modelling work is expected to take around four months.

As well as new modelling, a report to the committee on October 13 recommends the project being overseen by a reconvened cross-party board of councillors, council officers and community representatives.

Chair of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee Cllr Gill Mitchell said:  “We still want a scheme to go ahead.  But we can only do this once we have full knowledge of how transport will be affected.  At the moment, we do not know - and it would be irresponsible to proceed until we do.  We have had initial discussions with the LEP about safeguarding the funding and will continue those talks.”

Overall the scheme aims to simplify the road layout and improve the green space making it better linked to the city centre and Pavilion Gardens.  It is expected road safety would be improved and air pollution cut.  General traffic would be carried on the east side, near the Brighton University building.  Buses, taxis and local traffic would use a quieter ‘park road’ on the west side which would be less of a barrier to the city than the current busy three-lane road. It would include an arboretum, water features, footpaths and cycleways.