Exclusive: Park and ride - A site is found

A Google Earth view of the 30-acre site that could accommodate up to 3,000 vehicles
A Google Earth view of the 30-acre site that could accommodate up to 3,000 vehicles

A possible site has been identified four miles north of the city boundary.

For more years than most of us can remember, Brighton - and Hove - has pondered where we can put a park-and-ride site.

The QLeisure site, on a former section of the A23, is four miles north of the city boundary - and less than 10 miles from Brighton seafront

The QLeisure site, on a former section of the A23, is four miles north of the city boundary - and less than 10 miles from Brighton seafront

One thing has been agreed: It won't be to the south of the city centre.

Clearly, the main need is to the north. Because that is where most of the traffic comes from.

But the South Downs National Park gets in the way. Even though many recognise that the bottom of the A23, near the Q8 roundabout, is an ideal site. Many suggest the planet will be better off if a small part of a national park is concreted over, to avoid congestion and air pollution elsewhere.

Waterhall is also a possibility. So is Toad's Hole Valley.

South of the Q8 roundabout is crowded by vehicles of drivers who increasingly use arterial roads as "informal" park-and-ride sites

South of the Q8 roundabout is crowded by vehicles of drivers who increasingly use arterial roads as "informal" park-and-ride sites

But If not there, where?

At last, a site has been identified. A 30-acre site, four miles north of the city boundary - and less than 10 miles (15 minutes) from Brighton seafront.

Brighton and Hove Independent can reveal today that discussions have continued for more than year about the possibility of a park-and-ride scheme centred on the site of QLeisure, an attractive go-kart track, hidden away and accessed from a former section of the A23 near Albourne. In an area that is the responsibility of Mid-Sussex District Council.

And there's the rub. The traffic that comes from the north is - according to some -our problem. Brighton and Hove has to deal with it.

Nevertheless, a trio of Mid-Sussex councillors have listened to proposals. They have, it seems, subsequently briefed Claire Tester, Mid-Sussex's head of economic promotion and planning.

Leading politicians in Brighton and Hove have also been briefed - both before the May elections, and afterwards.

There is still hope.

Peter Peacock the owner of QLeisure, has listened to the proposals and discussed them with councilors and others. He is not opposed to them; he is not actively pursuing them; he does not want "grief" from neighbours.

And he does not want to talk to Brighton and Hove Independent.

Mr Peacock has, however, told friends: "If a proposal comes forward, it is something I will consider. But it is for others to agree and to come up with a plan."

There are, of course, many challenges: The road infrastructure may require some improvement to ease access on and off the A23; a bus lane from Albourne to the Q8 roundabout would be a distinct advantage. (Brighton and Hove Buses has already committed to running a commercial park-and-ride service for a 1,000-vehicle site, if such a site can be found.)

So who is driving the search for a solution to a problem that will become even more acute when the Brighton i360 opens, when a coach park will become even more necessary, when the painfully-high parking fees in the city become an even bigger block to the city economy, when work on Valley Gardens begins, when the Aquarium Roundabout is re-configured, when Shelter Hall is rebuilt.

Soozie Campbell, chair of Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, is keen to take discussions forward; the minority Labour administration is said to be supportive.

In a statement to Brighton and Hove Independent, Ms Campbell said the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had a key role.

She said:: "Before we start to talk about the details of any particular site for park and ride, we need to first of all establish a coherent transport strategy for the LEP region.

"It came as a surprise to me that we do not already have this in place.

"We need to provide a transport infrastructure that will not only serve the needs of the city, but also the needs of the surrounding villages in the wider region.

"Not everyone who works in Brighton lives in Brighton - most can’t afford to. We need to make the commute in as easy and as affordable as possible.

“We also need to reduce carbon emissions going through the national park and reduce congestion in the city centre. And we need to address this as a matter of urgency - or we will run the risk of disappointing the 700,000 people visiting the i360 next year, who may not come back and may not tell their friends what a great place Brighton is."

Councillor Robert Nemeth, a Conservative member of Brighton and Hove's transport committee, said: "We recognise calls for action for a park-and-ride solution from traders and the business community, generally.

"It has to be kept in mind, though, that this specific proposal falls within the jurisdiction of another local authority whose views will be key when it comes to assessing any future planning application."