Agenda item - Valley Gardens

skip navigation and tools

Agenda item

Valley Gardens

Report of the Executive Director Environment, Development & Housing (copy attached).



1)            That Committee notes progress since October 2014.


2)            That Committee agrees the next project stage (Landscape and Highways Technical Design) should commence under guidance of the Project Management Board.



95.1      The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director Environment, Development & Housing that updated Members on Valley Gardens Phase 1 and 2 progress since October 2014 and sought approval to progress the project toward implementation in 2015/16.


95.2      Councillor Mitchell moved a motion to delete recommendation 2.2 to be replaced with the following:


2.2 That all decision making relating to expenditure on the Valley Gardens transport scheme is halted until after the forthcoming elections to enable a thorough review of all three phases of this major scheme in terms of financing, design and governance to be carried out


95.3      Councillor Robins formally seconded the motion.


95.4      Introducing the motion, Councillor Mitchell stated her concern that there was no cross-party agreement from the Committee on what was a major transport project requiring unity. Councillor Mitchell stated that the Labour & Co-operative Group had serious apprehension with the significant contribution of £4m required from the Local Transport Plan (LTP) allocation and that maintenance of the trees in the garden that would have no allocated budget and would have to be self-funding but with now clear indication how. Councillor Mitchell added that the recommendations also proposed ceding decision-making on road layout to the Project Management Board, an issue for further concern, particularly regarding governance. Councillor Mitchell explained her worry that the general public was unaware of the full scope and implications of the scheme and strongly recommended that no further action was undertaken until after the upcoming election when all parties could work towards a way forward.


95.5      Councillor Davey stated that he could not understand the Labour & Co-operative Groups continued opposition to the Valley Gardens transport scheme. Councillor Davey noted that the Leader of the Labour & Co-operative Group had been quoted in the local press as stating he would scrap the scheme which, Councillor Davey observed, would entail returning £14 million of funding secured to the Local Enterprise Partnership. Councillor Davey explained he found this particularly confusing as in the LTP document produced in 2006; Councillor Mitchell had introduced the idea of the Valley Gardens project stating that it was important part of improving air quality, accessibility, congestion, road safety and quality of life in the city. Furthermore, Councillor Davey noted that in the document, it was proposed to considerably reduce carriageway and junction space whilst improving traffic flow, much as proposed in the current design. Councillor Davey supplemented that Councillor Mitchell had personally approached him in 2007 requesting his support to redevelop and improve Valley Gardens which he had given and the administration were now following through with that pledge. Councillor Davey referred to quotes attributed to Councillor Mitchell in the local press in 2008 criticising the then administration for not implementing the Valley Gardens project and asserting doubt whether the project could ever be introduced. Councillor Davey stated he felt it was Councillor Mitchell now trying to stop the implementation of the project and he found this approach perplexing as the scheme would complement the work carried out at the Level; the work ongoing at St Peter’s Church and would eventually spread to the seafront. Councillor Davey stated that the proposals were a once in a generation opportunity for the city and he found the Labour & Co-operative Group’s position to be a betrayal and neglect of the city in favour of cheap political gain.


95.6      Councillor Robins stated that the amendment was clear that the Labour & Co-operative Group were not proposing to scrap the scheme but to review it. Councillor Robins added that if the scheme was a viable one now, it would still be after the election.


95.7      Councillor Hawtree stated that he found the proposals to represent an exciting project and opposition to it appeared to be short-sighted and concerning. Councillor Hawtree added that the Committee were presented with an opportunity to revitalise a crucial part of the city.


95.8      Councillor Mitchell stated that she had made clear the importance of Valley Gardens over a number of years; the difference now was that urban realm funding was almost non-existent and the council’s finance was in a completely different position. Councillor Mitchell noted that the most recent LTP report considered at Policy & Resources Committee set out that the council were still paying back money from the 2013/14 allocation and borrowing from the 2015/16 allocation to use for the current financial year. Councillor Mitchell stated that she was extremely concerned that there was no clear indication of how the Valley Gardens scheme would be funded and a clearer picture of how the increase in trees and plants would be maintained was very much needed.


95.9      Councillor Cox expressed his dissatisfaction with the position taken by the Labour & Co-operative Group and he believed there would come a time when the issue would become a source of embarrassment. Councillor Cox supplemented that it was his view that opposition to the scheme arose from political gesturing and in the statements given; there were indications that the Labour & Co-operative Group would support the scheme after the election. Councillor Cox stated that he found it bizarre that Labour Members wished to return £8m of funding and risk the city’s credibility with the LEP and put in danger future funding efforts. Councillor Cox stated that he would be supporting the scheme as it was the right thing for the city.


95.10   Councillor Theobald stated that in its current form, Valley Gardens had an extremely complex route layout and pedestrian route. Councillor Theobald noted that he had recently walked from Brighton Station to Edward Street and had found navigation through the area very difficult. The proposals provided the opportunity to make a key area of the city work to the benefit of its residents and he supported a project to make the area what it was intended to be used for.


95.11   Councillor Deane noted the concerns of the Labour & Co-operative Group regarding road layout and enquired as to why these had not been raised at the Project Board.


95.12   Councillor Mitchell explained that the Labour & Co-operative Group had declined to take a seat on the Project Board on the basis of their great concern regarding governance arrangements and delegated powers.


95.13   Councillor Daniel asked for clarification on whether the road layout design would be considered by the Committee.


95.14   The Senior Project Manager clarified that the revised road layout had already been considered and agreed by the Committee in October 2014.


95.15   The Chair stated that any major changes would be reported to the Committee.


95.16   The Chair put the Labour & Co-operative motion to a vote which failed.


95.17   The Chair put the substantive recommendation to a vote which passed.


1)            That Committee notes progress since October 2014.


2)            That Committee agrees the next project stage (Landscape and Highways Technical Design) should commence under guidance of the Project Management Board.


Supporting documents:


Brighton & Hove City Council | Hove Town Hall | Hove | BN3 3BQ | Tel: (01273) 290000 | Mail: | how to find us | comments & complaints