The city council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee will be asked to consider a recommended preferred design option for Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens project – the area from the Old Steine to the Palace Pier - when it meets on 9 October. Approval at Committee will enable council officers to hold a public consultation on the preferred option and conduct further development work on the design.
At the last Committee meeting in June, members approved the project’s eight Core Design Objectives, which enabled transport officers to progress to the next stage of the design process. Four options for improving the transport and public realm infrastructure were developed following the last committee and an options appraisal study measured which of the four options scored best in terms of the criteria across all eight objectives. The recommended option which is being presented to the Committee next week scored the highest in this assessment, offering the greatest overall benefits, and is therefore the option that best meets the project’s objectives.
The project aims to improve connectivity to the city centre by simplifying the road layout, making improvements to the bus infrastructure, introducing a new cycle infrastructure and improving lighting and landscaping in the surrounding public spaces.
The existing area has the highest collision rate in the city, which has seen 154 collisions over five years, 30 of which resulted in serious injury. Conditions for cycling are particularly dangerous with cyclists disproportionately likely to be involved in a collision. The junction can also be confusing for drivers and pedestrians.
The preferred option being presented to Committee next week includes proposals to significantly improve the seafront A23/A259 junction; construct a new, segregated north-south cycle lane linking Victoria Gardens with the Old Steine and seafront; and improve pedestrian crossings at the seafront and St James’s St.
Around the Old Steine area, there would be a simplified traffic layout with all traffic relocating to the east side in a dual carriageway layout, with the exception of a northbound loop for buses to the south-west of Steine Gardens. Initial junction design and traffic light optimisation scenarios on the preferred option suggest better journey times would be achieved. Further optimisation and design of the preferred option will commence subject to approval at committee.
The green spaces around the area would be improved and made more accessible, allowing better access for pedestrians to the area's green spaces, retaining the old tram shelters in situ but with new uses and enhancing the setting of the pavilion.
The council is conducting a two-stage public consultation to get the views of local residents, businesses and users as the project progresses. The first stage ran from May to June 2018 and sought to understand what people feel about the area and what they would like to see from the redevelopment. The second stage of consultation, which will include two public exhibitions, will allow residents to give their views on the preferred design option and contribute their own ideas for the area. If approved, the public consultation will run for six weeks from 15 October to 25 November. The responses collected will be essential in helping to develop a final preliminary design option and the results of the consultation will be reported back to the Committee in January 2019.
A business case for funding for the project is being drawn up by council officers for submission to the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. The business case will be presented to ETS Committee in November.
Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, Councillor Gill Mitchell, said: “This is a significant opportunity to revitalise the Old Steine to Palace Pier area by improving the transport and public realm infrastructure. We want to make cycling, walking and public transport more attractive and viable options of transport, as well as improving the landscape to create an attractive, sustainable and safe green space.
“The existing area at the A23/A59 junction is the most hazardous in the city and so it is important that we make improvements to make it safer and easier for all transport users. The area is also one of the main arrival points into the city and the redesign will improve and enhance the quality of the environment to reflect the city’s status as a key visitor destination.
“It is vital that local residents, businesses and users have their say on the proposals and give their own ideas on how the area can be improved. We want as many people as possible to take part in the next stage of the consultation.”