Final designs for the Valley Gardens regeneration scheme have been approved by Brighton and Hove city councillors, in a meeting last month.
Valley Gardens – the green spaces that run from St Peter’s Church to the Palace Pier – were once vibrant parks in Brighton’s community; a green extension of the beach where people could relax and play and soak in Brighton’s unique atmosphere.
However, over the years the area has become somewhat rundown with people hardly using Valley Gardens for anything other than a shortcut to get to other parts of the city. One Brighton resident told The Badger that he had “heard of Valley Gardens” but never actually been and another resident, Laura Pecker, claimed that they had been there “maybe once last summer”.
The £17m of funding needed to complete the project was approved last June with funding coming from the government as well as local development contributors and through the Local Transport Plan.
The scheme, aimed at creating new open green spaces for public use, is expected to improve road safety and air quality by restricting the amount of traffic that’s able to pass through the area, such as on the west road that passes by the King and Queen pub, and also on the east road which goes past the Brighton University Phoenix building – both of which experience high levels of traffic throughout the week.
It is also hoped that by reducing the traffic around Valley Gardens the road will become less of a barrier to people coming in and out of the city centre and will be more attractive to cyclists and pedestrians, also allowing for easier access to the seafront.
A complete revamp of the areas traffic signalling equipment is also planned, with replacement high-tech and smart traffic lights equipped to deal with and reduce city traffic, being installed to further alleviate congestion.
Some however have received the news of the development with disappointment – sparking a 1400 strong petition against the development – asking the council to “pause work” on phase three of the project – which involves a partial pedestrianisation of Churchill square. Commenters on the Argus website said “children and chimps” would be better at drawing up plans for the city, with some also concerned that the changes would add unnecessary minutes onto their daily commute.
Labour councillor, Gill Mitchell responded to the calls for a delay to the project saying that the scheme was “based firmly on people’s priorities” and that the suggestion that it should not take place was “sad” . Speaking on the benefits of the completed project she said: “[there is] huge potential for the city centre and its tourist economy”. She then went on to accuse the Tories who were against the scheme of engaging in “small-town politics” and “playing to the gallery”.
Green Party Councillor, Leo Littman also speaking at the council meeting said that the new project “will provide excellent public realm and sustainable transport improvements encouraging people to use buses and to walk and cycle more and improving public health”.