Controversial Brighton town centre road revamp has caused ‘traffic chaos’

Brighton businesses have blasted the city council’s town centre road redesign scheme for the disruption it has caused to drivers and pedestrians.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 11:05 am
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 11:07 am
A large number of barriers have been placed on the roads and footway adjacent to St. Peter's Church, York Place

The Valley Gardens Redesign Scheme, is intended to reduce congestion, collisions, and air pollution.

It also aims to create a new public park by re-landscaping Valley Gardens, and improving travel into town for pedestrians and cyclists.

However, it has attracted criticism from The Valley Gardens Forum, a group of Brighton businesses and residents who are concerned about the current design and implementation of the project.

David Sewell of the North Laine Traders Association said: “Speaking generally the VG traffic scheme has caused and will continue to cause a huge amount of traffic chaos in central Brighton and beyond.

“Drivers are trying to avoid the main roads when they can and take other side roads to cut across town whether East to West or North to South. Councillors (Green and Labour) have accepted the consequences - extra fumes, gridlock, and a huge hit on the economy of Brighton.”

Phases one and two of the scheme, from St Peter’s Church to Edward Street, began in September 2018.

Currently a large number of barriers have been set up along the roads and footways by the Church and in the surrounding area, and diversions are in place.

Martin Christie of Colourfast Printers, Cheltenham Place said: “We are in the centre of Brighton which, like most cities, has a major congestion problem due to just too many vehicles of all sizes being funnelled into roads designed in Victorian times.

“The council’s solution seems very simple: reduce the size of the roads, and the number that can be used, then the traffic won’t be so bad because no one will want to drive in.

“This simplistic approach to traffic management has one major flaw - when it was drawn up, no account was made of the increasing amount of delivery vehicles.”

Zena Thompson of Black Rock Coffee Co said the roadworks have been ‘confusing and difficult to navigate easily’.

She said: “Our delivery drivers generally adapt, change their routes,

and allow extra time for hold ups, but this is a barrier to us meeting our customers’ needs in an efficient way.

“Many people now avoid the area but dispersing the traffic isn’t the same as reducing it.”

Recent works are part of phases one and two of the redesign, which will see changes to roads, footways, and gardens between St Peter’s Church and Edwards Street.

Brighton and Hove City Council estimate that the work will finish on time, in September 2020.

Phase three of the project would create more than 8,000 square metres of public space from the Old Steine to the Palace Pier.

This would also replace the seafront roundabout by Sea Life Aquarium with a signalled junction.

A council spokesperson said that barriers are in place for safety: “These are safety barriers and are there on a temporary basis to guide and protect pedestrians from works. These barriers also provide safe working zones for the contractors’ workforce.

“Works within the Valley Gardens scheme between Edward St and St Peter’s Church junction have been implemented and planned to be delivered on a phase by phase basis.

“This phased approach has been taken to help manage safety and vehicle movements thus reducing the impact on traffic movements and congestion.”