Delays of more 40 seconds are expected on the seafront if a T junction replaces the Aquarium roundabout, councillors heard this week.
The plan is part of the final phase of the Valley Gardens project, which saw work to reroute traffic from St Peter’s Church to Edward Street start last month.
A preferred option for the last stage, from Edward Street to the Palace Pier, which also removes traffic in front of the Pavilion to create a new square, will now go out to consultation after Brighton and Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee voted it past the first hurdle on Tuesday (October 9).
Patcham Conservative councillor Lee Wares raised the issue of how the modelling was done using current speeds.
He said: “With option one there is nothing in this report that properly identifies that if it is adopted we will slow the traffic down on the A259 by in excess of 40 seconds.
“When we looked at phase one and two we got quite vexed about one or two seconds.
“Now we’re looking at 40-plus seconds along the A259 that won’t just stop there it will manifest itself all the way along to Rottingdean.”
Cllr Wares said he was not sold on the consultant’s Mott MacDonald’s view that the roundabout can be disconnected from other parts of the city.
He said: “We have to make sure we make it very clear to people the consequences of any decision that is made.”
The recommended option costs £7.3 million. It involves:
- Creation of a public space to the south-east of the Royal Pavilion.
- Buses sharing with vehicles, the northbound bus lane for buses travelling from the seafront into North Street remains
- More pedestrian crossings at the seafront;
- Creation of a crossing for cyclists at the seafront to link with the new north-south lane
- Removal of the signal junction at North Street/Old Steine.
Rottingdean Coastal Conservative councillor Joe Miller raised concerns about the loss of the roundabout by the SeaLife Centre and Palace Pier.
He also pointed out the impact of traffic along Madeira Drive once it reaches Dukes Mound, especially as developments are proposed in the area such as the Sea Lanes swimming pool and a venue at Black Rock.
Cllr Miller said: “Transport models can be wonderful but they do not take into account human factors.
“Removing the roundabout at the aquarium and pier will have a disastrous impact on the inland corridor.
“I will eat my hat if I’m proved wrong.”
Concerns were raised about how pedestrians and cyclists were considered in the recommended model.
St Peter and North Laine Green councillor Pete West complained the consultants had not taken pedestrians and cyclists into account and the model was ‘linear’.
He said: “It does not respond to the need to improve east to west transit into Kemp Town. At the moment it addresses north to south.”
Cllr West expressed his frustrations that the consultants did not have the modelling software to show the impact of the scheme on pedestrians and cyclists.
Preston Park Green councillor Leo Littman quoted former council leader Warren Morgan as describing Valley Gardens as a ‘Green vanity project’.
He also complained about the delays caused by Labour councillors calling for a redesign and Conservatives raising concerns about a design they had previously supported.
Committee chair Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said it was necessary to run the scheme through upgraded traffic modelling.
The six-week consultation period starts on Monday October 15 and it runs until Sunday November 21.
A public exhibition will be held within the customer services area at Hove Town Hall running from until Wednesday October 31.
A second exhibition will run from Thursday November 1 to Wednesday November 21 at Jubilee Library.
Wish ward Conservative councillor Garry Pelzer Dunn pointed out officers would be available for three days at the Jubilee Library, according to the report and asked for more availability.
Cllr Mitchell offered to arrange for more officers to be on hand during the process.
The committee’s four Labour and two Green councillors voted to move forward with the design and carry out a public consultation, while the four Conservatives voted against.
Sarah Booker-Lewis is the Local Democracy Reporter for Brighton & Hove.