21 November 2017

New park promises bigger green space – and intelligent traffic lights!

More green space and more green traffic lights are among ambitions for a radical revamp of the central valley through Brighton.

Detailed designs for the city’s Valley Gardens project go before councillors for what could be final approval next week.

The Valley Gardens project aims to create an attractive new park by improving the series of green spaces between St Peter’s church and the Royal Pavilion.  At the same time, the road layout would be radically simplified, making it easier to navigate. New improved routes would be created for sustainable transport including walking, cycling, buses and taxis.

Councillors at the environment, transport and sustainability committee on 28 November will be considering proposed final landscaping and road designs.

These would see around 3000 square metres of highway space turned over to open space – a seven per cent increase equivalent to the area of  11 tennis courts.  New public squares would be created south of St Peter’s and opposite the Richmond pub.

In creating final designs, the council took on board comments from residents and businesses, including  transport operators. Resulting changes to plans include better accommodation for buses and improved pedestrian crossings.

In some places cycle contraflows will be added to side streets, providing better access from the valley to the North Laine and city centre. East-west routes across the valley for bikes have been improved.

Traffic lights will be modernised – using MOVA technology which can detect vehicles and change lights to optimise throughput at junctions.

Planning permission was granted on 8 November for changes to landscaping through the valley. The environment committee represents the council’s role as landowner and transport authority.

Local contractors have been appointed to plan how to minimise traffic disruption caused by roadworks as the scheme is built. The aim is to keep both northbound and southbound traffic flowing throughout the works, except for short periods of resurfacing.

Council parks officials have been co-ordinating designs with the transport department.  A maintenance plan for the new gardens has been drawn up.

Committee chair Cllr Gill Mitchell said: “This is a great opportunity to create more green space in the city centre – at present we don’t have very much.  The new layout should make it easier and more pleasant for all modes of transport, particularly those that are kinder to the environment and take up less precious space - cycling, walking, buses and taxis. I’m extremely keen that we do everything possible to keep the roads flowing during the construction phase.”

The main changes to roads involve putting both north- and southbound traffic on the east side of the Valley. Buses, taxis and traffic bound for the North Laine area would use a quieter road on the west side, which would form much less of barrier between the city and the green space.

Nearly all of the £11m cost is funded by government money which, by law, can only be spent on Valley Gardens.

If approved works should start next spring and be completed around spring 2020. 

The committee report can be seen among the agenda papers elsewhere on this website.

The proposed new public square in front of St Peter's
church, part of the Valley Gardens project.