‘We’ve been ignored over Valley Gardens’

The Valley Gardens phase three scheme is set to focus on Old Steine
The Valley Gardens phase three scheme is set to focus on Old Steine

Businesses and residents accused the council of ignoring them and failing to consult them over big changes in the centre of Brighton.

They spoke out as members of Brighton and Hove City Council discussed the latest plans for the Valley Gardens project – a revamp of the area from St Peter’s Church to the seafront.

Representatives from the Palace Pier, the Brighton Fringe and Brighton Language School as well as residents living in the Old Steine area quizzed councillors and set out their concerns at a meeting at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (February 7).

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Gary Farmer, director of Brighton Language School, based in Old Steine, asked two questions about pollution levels.

He told councillors that he also lived in Old Steine but had not received any information about the consultation process.

Mr Farmer said: “Why will you not stop and really listen and engage?

“Who have you surveyed? There were a few postcards no one received.

“Why will you not stop, pause and engage? We are here because you are not.”

The council said that it had sent out 1,396 postcards but just 16 people responded.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, who chairs the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “I wanted consultation to mean consultation. I wanted the consultation in the broadest sense to take a variety of forms.

“I wanted leaflets and also a whole series of special workshops with key interest groups.”

Mr Farmer said that despite living and working in Old Steine he had never had any information about the consultation.

Language college academic manager Beatrice Segura Harvey asked about the number of accidents on the Aquarium roundabout, in front of the Palace Pier, saying that the number was very low in relation to the volume of traffic.

Councillor Mitchell said that there had been 154 accidents resulting in 193 casualties in the Valley Gardens phase three area from Edward Street to the Aquarium roundabout from 2013 to 2017. Of these, 40 per cent were in the Aquarium roundabout area.

Palace Pier finance director David Rochford highlighted the safety record of roundabouts, describing them as safer and calmer saying that they improved traffic flow.

Councillor Mitchell said that traffic lights were more suitable for Brighton and Hove as the city had high levels of sustainable transport and low levels of car ownership.

She said: “We are changing the roundabout to traffic signals because of the benefits to pedestrians and cyclists.

“The design and relative safety varies for different road users.”

Technical travel modelling was used to develop the traffic signals, she said.

Brighton Fringe director Julian Caddy asked about the proposed small event spaces and the inadequate consultation.

He said: “These event spaces do not service the needs we have in the city centre.

“Previous reasons for the lack of development for existing event spaces  has been cost.”

Councillor Mitchell said that the council hoped to attract exciting events to the area and would include the Fringe and other event organisations in the future consultation process.

{https://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/transport/controversial-valley-gardens-scheme-approved-1-8802707|The scheme was approved at the meeting last night}.