Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:


(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public;


(b)          Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 1 February 2019;


(c)          Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 1 February 2019.





(i)            Aquarium Roundabout


63.1      Beatrice Segura Harvey put the following question:


“BHCC reports the number of accidents in this area but numbers in relation to volume of traffic are actually low. It is widely believed that the only most serious injury encountered by a pedestrian in proximity to the Aquarium Roundabout in the last five years was caused by a collision between a cyclist and a pedestrian. Is it possible for Brighton & Hove City Council to verify or clarify this?”


63.2      The Chair provided the following reply:


“Any collision on our roads and pavements that results in a casualty is very regrettable, but they do occur and we investigate them to see what we can do to try and reduce them.  We do that by making casualty reduction a very high priority and by working with Sussex Police and other partners as part of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership to review collision and casualty data that comes from Police records.

Within the whole Valley Gardens Phase 3 project area, which stretches down the A23 corridor from Edward Street to the busy, A259 seafront junction and across the Old Steine to North Street, we know that there have been 154 collisions resulting in 193 casualties in the 5 year period of 2013 to 2017. 

Approximately 40% of the incidences within the Phase 3 area have occurred at the roundabout junction, either on it or on the approaches to it.  And of those, I can confirm that Police records show that there were a total of 11 people seriously injured and that one of those people was pedestrian injured as a result of a collision with a vehicle.

With regard to the numbers of collisions in relation to traffic volumes, the data also shows that vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are disproportionately affected by the current road layout, with over 75% of serious injuries caused to these user groups, compared to just over 15% of collisions resulting in serious injury to car or van occupants” 


63.3      Beatrice Segura Harvey asked the following supplementary question:


“Could you provide data specific to the Aquarium Roundabout itself because the information provided seems to be from a wider area”


63.4      The Chair provided the following reply:


“I believe I have provided information relating to the Aquarium Roundabout itself but the whole scheme was model across the whole Phase 3 area because you can’t just look at one part in isolation without there being a knock on effect to another part. There are the other junctions in the Phase 3 area that also have relatively high accident rates”


(ii)          Aquarium Roundabout


63.5      David Rochford put the following question:


“It is universally accepted that roundabouts are safer than traditional signal-controlled stops. Roundabouts reduced injury crashes by 75 percent at and around intersections where traffic lights were previously used. As well as being safer calmer and improving traffic flow, they are also cheaper to install and maintain than T junctions.  Wider circulatory roundabouts are judged to be more future-proof and appropriate in a coming age of autonomous electric vehicles. On what basis did consultants ‘prefer’ a signalised junction over an improved remodelled roundabout?”


63.6      The Chair provided the following reply:


“I am not a technical expert on junction design, but I have been advised that the data that you have referred to is from an American institute and therefore, assuming that its assessments are based on data from that country, I am not sure if its conclusions are representative of junctions in the UK. 

Traffic volumes and travel patterns are likely to be very different, as are our highway and traffic signal designs and operation and in Brighton & Hove, we are different from much of the UK, as our daily travel data shows we have relatively high levels of sustainable transport use such as walking and cycling, and low levels of car ownership, plus we have a significant number of visitors resulting in seasonal variations.  There is some UK research that shows that other authorities are also changing roundabouts to traffic signals because of the benefits for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as benefits and disbenefits for traffic and drivers.      

However, the design of junctions will vary for many different reasons and the relative safety of those junctions will also vary for different road users.  For the Palace Pier junction, our consultants have looked at a variety of different possible junction designs.  These were all assessed and tested in a consistent way in order to consider how well they would help fulfil the project’s various objectives.  This included technical traffic modelling to assess journey times.  In overall terms, the conclusions of this work are that traffic signals take up less space; they enable more direct and convenient crossing for pedestrians and cyclists; they can be linked with other junctions to help manage movement; and they will also use technology enabling them to sense and balance demands on each arm of the junction by optimising traffic flow and people movement in a very flexible way. 

Identifying and using technology is a really important part of our role within the council, and we do need to move with the times and adapt and change.  So I am also pleased to see that you have also acknowledged this through your reference to autonomous vehicles.  I am sure that when we and all other councils know more about them and what is required to accommodate them, we will begin to adapt or redesign our roads with a greater degree of certainty.  But in the meantime we have to deal with our immediate problems using our current knowledge and advice.  Once that future technology is more certain and is playing a much greater part in our everyday lives, I have no doubt that our travel choices and patterns will be very different and we will start to see many aspects of our city’s roads and pavements change”.


63.7      David Rochford asked the following supplementary question:


“Given that item 3.3 of the results of the public consultation report highlights people expressed concern about the loss of the roundabout it doesn’t identify that 62% of those expressed an opinion were against its removal along with numerous businesses and traders associations or the level of impact this has on other aspects of the scheme. Is this indicative of the consultation only being listened to and acted upon when it endorses the proposed plan or only requires minor amendments? And why has this not been revisited given the consultation identified it as a vastly unpopular move?”


63.8      The Chair provided the following reply:


“The second round of public consultation following the first round last spring, sought to illicitate from members of the public whether the proposed design (option 1), reflected the feedback that was received in the public consultation last spring which covered a wide-range of points and priorities including road safety, better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore, we feel that a fully optimised and technically efficient T-junction fits those priorities better than the current, totally unmanaged roundabout”.


(iii)         Valley Gardens consultation


63.9      Martin Christie put the following question:


“Valley Gardens Forum’s dialogue with Coast 2 Capital informed us that there is no requirement for the agreed funding to be drawn down this financial year. Also that, as Valley Gardens 3 is a vitally important, once in a generation project, a suitable and appropriate timespan should be taken to ensure that it is done planned properly. Is the botched and rushed consultation and planning due to the electoral timetable of Councillor elections in May?”


63.10   The Chair provided the following reply:


We are aware that the newly-formed Valley Gardens Forum has been in contact with the Local Enterprise Partnership, which I am sure has welcomed that engagement and the Forum’s interest and involvement in its business and decision-making processes.  The LEP is the primary funder of all three phases of the Valley Gardens project, following their inclusion in its Strategic Economic Plan produced in 2014 and the subsequent allocation by the LEP of 14 million pounds of Local Growth Fund money that the Government assigned to the LEP to be spent on the project.  This funding is only available to be drawn down by the council from the LEP until March 2021.  It is that date which is the critical one in this process, rather than the end of this financial year, and during all of our discussions with the LEP about Phase 3 since 2017, the LEP has taken every opportunity to remind us of that including to myself personally and just recently, when the LEP considered and approved our Business Case. 

I completely agree that a project of this scale and importance should be developed over an appropriate timescale and that the decisions that are made at each stage are fully informed, transparent and democratic.  As a council, that is exactly what we are doing, and as a committee we considered and agreed a deliverable programme for Phase 3 at the earliest opportunity and I am pleased to say that we are keeping to that programme.  We are not taking any short-cuts and I can fully assure you that the programme was certainly not influenced by the timing of the forthcoming local election in May.


63.11   Martin Christie asked the following supplementary question:


“The LEP told us that there were conditions on the funding award, can you tell us what those conditions are?”


63.12   The Chair provided the following reply:


“We have recently received some communication from the LEP and are studying that in detail and we will be making our comments back to them in the next week or so”


(iv)        Air pollution


63.13   Gary Farmer put the following question:


“Harmful road traffic pollutants are at their most dangerous within the first 100m of the traffic with a drop off to near background levels within 200m downwind and 300m upwind. Current levels around the Old Steine already breach WHO targets and European law. This proposal doubles traffic on one side of the road within 10m of residences & businesses with increased stop-start traffic, buses in conflict with private vehicles, lorries & coaches – noise levels doubled, acknowledged increased levels of air pollution. How can BHCC, Green Party councillors consider this acceptable for Brighton and the people who live here?”


63.14   The Chair provided the following reply:


“Forgive me for repeating my answer from a previous question, but I have been advised that the data that you have referred to in your question is from American sources and is understood to apply to interstate freeways.  It would therefore be relevant to motorways in this country.  However, your concerns about air quality are fully understood. 

The Valley Gardens corridor is located within the city’s Air Quality Management Area.  However, the Old Steine area benefits from its more open nature and as such does not experience the same concentrations of emissions as monitoring sites further north within the Valley Gardens corridor, and air quality levels on the southern and eastern side of the Old Steine are below the Government’s exceedance thresholds that require action to be taken.

 As part of the development of this project, air quality has been considered alongside all of the other factors that we are seeking to address here, such as the movement of people and vehicles; the layout of roads, pavements and areas  and of course, road safety. Design options were informed by a high level, technical analysis of environmental issues, including noise and air quality.  Smoother traffic flows, more trees, wider pavements and greater use of sustainable travel for some journeys, together with the adoption of lower emission vehicles over time will help to mitigate the effects of air quality 

Further assessments based on the Final Preliminary Design will be undertaken, and a new air quality monitor has already been located to the east of the Old Steine to assist with this work.  The monitoring results will enable officers to fully understand the likely effects of the proposed changes and will also be monitored carefully after completion”.  


63.15   Gary Farmer asked the following supplementary question:


“Why hasn’t a localised air quality survey or any noise modelling taken place to date?”


63.16   The Chair provided the following reply:


“We measure air quality across the city. The reason why the specific air quality monitor has now been installed is because we know we are about to make changes to that area and therefore, we want to be careful”


(v)          Valley Gardens Phase 3


63.17   On behalf of Tam Duy Dao, Gary Farmer put the following question:


“The reviewed plan has now added additional parking for 6 bays in front of listed buildings opposite the historic Victoria Fountain in which I live. In addition to 6 lanes of traffic outside my house how does the scheme which is designed to "ease traffic" imagine that 6 parking bays, a bus stop and 6 lanes of traffic waiting outside my house will in anyway make our lives, my home, my health, the facilities and events that use this avenue and the environment any better?”


63.18   The Chair provided the following reply:


“I can appreciate your concerns when living in this very busy part of the city centre on the main route to and from the seafront, where there are many different activities taking place on a daily basis and throughout the year.  In considering your concerns, there are a number of factors to perhaps consider that may have a bearing on how this area will operate in the future. Driver speeds should be smoother and within the 20mph limit, helped by linking all of the traffic signals at all of the junctions together so that flows are optimised to reflect particular demands or conditions; the existing bus stop will remain but the management of the parking spaces has still to be finalised; many of the city’s buses in this area will have very modern, low-emission engine technology to reduce pollution; the location is fairly open and near to the sea so pollutants should disperse better than within a more enclosed area.  All of these changes have the potential to deliver much-needed improvements in this area and the proposed design will also enhance the historic Steine Gardens and enable more people to enjoy them, including yourself I hope”.


63.19   On behalf of Tam Duy Dao, Gary Farmer asked the following supplementary question:


“Why will you not stop, pause, really listen and really engage with the community”


63.20   The Chair provided the following reply:


“Thank you Mr Farmer. Firstly, I do not believe anyone is stupid, whatsoever. Secondly, before this process stated I made it very, very clear to officers that I wanted consultation to mean consultation. I wanted the consultation in its broadest sense to take a variety of forms in tandem so not only the wider forms of consultation that you have mentioned such as via social media and on the council’s website but also paper leaflets and also a whole series of specialised workshops with key interest groups to look at the plans in detail and this is what we have done. We did not come to this as you well know last May with a plan saying that is what we want to do. What we came with Mr Farmer, was a series of questions for people on how they perceived the area as it currently is. How they use it, why they use it, how they travel through it, what are the barriers to them being able to use it and enjoy it and how they think it could be improved. That was all we asked, we did not ask people’s opinion on anything, we wanted to elicit from them the qualitative information. On that was built our first key section of priorities and on that we built the options”.


(vi)        Valley Gardens Phase 3 Business Case


63.21   Nic Roe put the following question:


“Outside of the desk based research conducted by appointed consultant Mott Macdonald, what , if any, qualitative research, detailed third party advice or consultation was carried out in preparation of the approved Business Case for the project?”


63.22   The Chair provided the following reply:


“The council’s Business Case that was submitted to, and approved by, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership has achieved the release of the 6 million pounds of Local Growth Fund money.  The information included within it ensured that it fully complied with the LEP’s requirements and therefore all the necessary research or advice that the LEP would have expected to have been included, was provided or referenced within it.  The Business Case was prepared by a consultant which has the appropriate expertise to undertake this work, and which has successfully secured other Local Growth Fund money for the council. 

Prior to the Business Case preparation, the initial public survey that was carried out during the Spring period that I have just alluded to could be described as qualitative, as it sought people’s views about their experience of the area and how it might be improved.  The consultants also carried out site visits and this qualitative research was subsequently combined with quantitative research which informed the decisions taken on the Preferred Option, which formed the basis of the Business Case that was prepared”.


63.23   Nic Roe asked the following supplementary question:


“I have yet to hear any direct support for the Business Case. You have claimed to have spoken to and listened to all businesses concerned however, no business here is supporting the business case. So why do we always hear that there is support from so many businesses? Can you provide us with the names of the companies and organisations that you say are in support of Option 1?”


63.24   The Chair provided the following reply:


“There were very many companies and businesses who responded to the consultation and I am not sure that here today, I can list those companies in public session. I will take advice and I will respond to you further”.


(vii)       Valley Gardens Phase 3 Design


63.25   Andy Roberts put the following question:


“Apart from Council Officers, the Project Board and external consultants Mott Macdonald, were any other councillors, other BHCC departments, organisations, businesses or lobby special interest groups involved in selecting and drawing up the ‘preferred’ Option 1 from a working list of 44 plans and the eventual shortlist of 4 plans?”

“Apart from Council Officers, the Project Board and external consultants Mott Macdonald, were any other councillors, other BHCC departments, organisations, businesses or lobby special interest groups involved in selecting and drawing up the ‘preferred’ Option 1 from a working list of 44 plans and the eventual shortlist of 4 plans?”


63.26   The Chair provided the following reply:


“Through a number of reports to consecutive meetings of this committee, the way that the council has approached the development of possible design options for this phase of Valley Gardens has been well-documented. To summarise that technical work, I can confirm that officers initially took account of the council’s policies and the feedback from public survey in April 2018.  They have also had the benefit of hearing the opinions of independent experts who are part of the respected Design: South East Review Panel and one of those early meetings involved councillors and other council officers. They have received and assessed a range of technical reports, as well as the outputs from the council’s computer-based traffic model, which have been produced by Mott Macdonald, our consultant.  Detailed briefings on this work were arranged for leading councillors from all parties to demonstrate how this analysis was being conducted.

That body of work informed the development of the long- and short list of options, which were then reported back to and considered by, this committee, and the decisions was taken to consult on what is referred to as Option 1 – the Preferred Option.   It was at that point that the process of collecting a wider range of external views began, during the main period of consultation in October and November last year. This included seeking opinions and suggestions from a number of people and groups, including local residents, businesses, workers and visitors, and other stakeholders – some individually, others with representatives of groups of people. Furthermore, all of the many views expressed in the public representations made to this committee were received and fully considered as part of the consultation.

During the process, we have also engaged and regularly updated the city’s Transport Partnership, which includes representatives from a number of varied interest groups and organisations within the city, and which has considered and advised on many transport proposals and issues in the city for many years”.


63.27   Andy Roberts asked the following supplementary question:


“For public information, will you please release all 44 plans that were considered in 2018?”


63.28   The Chair provided the following reply:


“I am not sure I can commit to that at this stage and I will seek officer advice”.


(viii)      Valley Gardens Phase 3 Design


63.29   Mirek Golabek put the following question:


“Under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 relating to the land at 6-7 Old Steine a sustainable transport contribution sum paid to the council was £20,000 for a footway island.

Initial option 1 plans did not meet this criteria and were reviewed. The revised plans do not meet this requirement, there is no footway island and concerns regarding the space and how it is vital for the viability of businesses in the area have been paved over. Why has the council ignored this matter and will we receive the island as agreed 5 years ago?”


63.30   The Chair provided the following reply:


“I can assure you that we have looked at this opportunity when planning and designing the changes to the roads and pavements within the Phase 3 area.  The principle of the proposed pedestrian improvement that was identified 5 years ago has therefore been taken into account.  This was to extend the pavement outside the site and realign the Prince’s Street junction.  I am not aware if there was a suggested, or an agreed, design for these works when the planning decision was made, but the designs that have now been developed for Valley Gardens do seek to improve the pedestrian environment and routes in this area and include these changes.  The design has therefore taken the previous planning decision into account in order to ensure that the commitment is fulfilled, and further work will be done as part of the detailed design, which will be consulted on”. 


63.31   Mirek Golabek asked the following supplementary question:


“Local businesses, particularly Brighton & Hove Language School have expressed the need for the space to remain open but the revised plan is no different from the original one. Could you provide any evidence that you have listened to local businesses?”


63.32   The Chair provided the following reply:


“With respect, I believe my answer has demonstrated that we are still listening and we are making changes”


63.33   Councillor Miller asked if the Section 106 funding secured by the council as part of the planning permission could be used as a contribution towards the project’s construction costs, as he understood that they were only available for up to 5 years and should therefore be returned after that period in 2019.


63.34   The Chair stated that she did not have the specific information available and would asked officers to write to Councillor Miller.


(ix)         Valley Gardens Event Space


63.35   Julian Caddy put the following question:


“The Business Case for the Valley Gardens redevelopment cites several references to enhancing quality and capacity of event spaces. However, the quality for mid to large-scale events will be severely compromised through the lack of adequate allowance for power, water, waste and access, and capacity will be greatly reduced across VG Phases 1-3. New, often smaller, events sites are created without adequate consultation, while existing ones (Victoria Gardens, St Peter’s Church North and Old Steine) are either left unimproved or rendered unsuitable for future use. What assurance can the Committee give that fit-for-purpose space will indeed increase within current plans?”


63.36   The Chair provided the following reply:


I am aware that officers have been in direct discussions with yourself and other event organisers, as well as the council’s Events Manager, and those discussions have covered all three phases of the Valley Gardens scheme.

I believe that you have also had a comprehensive email from Nick Hibberd, our Executive Director, about event space and Phases 1&2. We are therefore aware of the need to consider surfaces, access, power, and water supplies and waste and drainage and are considering all of these within the design and construction of each phase.  This could either include actual infrastructure, or works that enable the introduction of that infrastructure in the future – for example by providing the necessary ducting that would be required.

We are pleased to have been able to incorporate some new public spaces into the design for Valley Gardens Phase 3 that can be used within the city’s existing event calendars, or may enable us to attract new or different events to this part of the city centre to increase its attractiveness to residents and visitors alike.  I certainly expect that these changes will ensure that the areas of public realm that we retain and enhance, or introduce, within the Valley Gardens corridor will be able to be used by people all year around and enable our exciting events calendar to continue. 


63.37   Julian Caddy asked the following supplementary question:


“Would it not be better to reallocate the funds to the existing event spaces that are already well used and well-loved rather than creating spaces for hypothetical events?”


63.38   The Chair provided the following reply:


“Any of the event spaces either existing or the new ones that could potentially be created, I think it’s very important for us as we move through to the detailed design stage to actually understand the potential for the new spaces and what could and couldn’t be accommodated there but also to properly understand the needs of the existing events that we hope will continue in the area. I think this is where an ongoing engagement with yourself but also with event organisers will help. You remember we walked the area and spoke with the people running the attractions direct and that was the source of some really good information and I’d like to ensure that engagement continues”




(i)            Valley Gardens Phase 3- to express the concerns of the Valley Gardens Forum- Daniel Nathan


63.39   The Committee considered a deputation that expressed concern with regard to the consultation and engagement undertaken with the local community during Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens scheme, fears for the implications for air quality on the east side of the Old Steine should the current proposals go ahead, concern for the events held in that area of the city. The deputation requested that the current process for Valley Gardens Phase 3 be paused to reset relations and develop a new scheme.


63.40   The Chair provided the following response:


Thank you for your deputation on behalf of the signatories who have submitted it and the wider Valley Gardens Forum. 

The future of our city – how it grows and how people move about within it is at the heart of everything that the council does.  It always has been and areas like the city centre, Valley Gardens and our seafront have been established as priorities for improvement and enhancement for very many years.  They are valued by residents and are a major draw for visitors and we have to make sure that they are safe and accessible for people to reach on foot after they have arrived here so that they can visit attractions such as Churchill Square, the Royal Pavilion, the Palace Pier, the Sealife Centre, the Volks railway, the i360 and the many clubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, to name but a few.

Those priorities have been arrived at through discussion and debate which has involved listening to everybody’s views.  Most recently, the council has held many events to help people and local councillors consider what the future vision for the city could be in 2030 - transport and travel, retail activity and air quality were all included.  I acknowledge that you have brought together a variety of interests within the Forum to discuss and consider the proposals that have been developed for this particular phase of the Valley Gardens scheme. 

And am sorry that you consider that the Forum’s views have not been fully represented and that its views have not been listened to.  We have been listening and we will continue to listen.  I know that there have been individual meetings with project officers and that some members of the Forum have met collectively with our Executive Director, and there will be further consultation and engagement on the project after today’s meeting and decision.

The scheme’s design has also stayed true to principles of the concept design for the corridor approved by the council.  General traffic on the east, public and sustainable transport on the west with better connections into the main part of the city centre. One of the main changes that has occurred is with the area around the ‘art deco’ tram shelters, which was a result of a thorough, technical assessment of a number of options for Phase 3.  That assessment was based on the objectives for the project that this committee considered and agreed in June last year.  Maintaining that link would require two additional, safely controlled junctions that would have increased journey times for all road users with the associated delay and disbenefits that would create and that is what our technical modelling demonstrated.

I can assure you that the processes associated with public involvement for this and other council committees have been applied consistently and in line with our agreed procedural requirements.  Those procedural rules were last reviewed and agreed by Full Council in December 2018.

Your concerns about potential air quality and noise problems have been recorded alongside others that have been received, and as I have indicated in the responses to a number of the public questions this afternoon, it will be fully assessed by our experts and appropriate mitigation will be designed, if required.

This council is not ‘anti-car’ but we are pro-people, and to achieve the right balance between those things in this constrained city, sometimes requires difficult decision making.  Once made, those decisions are based on evidence, research and technical assessment.  Sometimes we can’t agree, and Park + Ride is an example of that.  However, it is still part of our overall policies and referred to in Parts 1 and 2 of the City Plan.  Sometimes, the amount of funding required is simply not available or we have to competitively bid for it with other councils across the country where we are not always successful. 

I do not think that there is any argument about where in the city the £14million worth of Local Growth Fund money that the council has secured from the LEP can be spent.  The money has been allocated to the council for the Valley Gardens project - £8 million for Phases 1&2 and £6 million for Phase 3.  The proposals that the council made to the LEP for this specific project and many others in the city in 2013 were accepted and they were included within the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and allocated Government funding to deliver them.  They have then had to meet the LEP’s further requirements for robust Business Cases.  For Valley Gardens, both have been fully compliant with the LEP’s requirements, and subsequently discussed and approved by its Economic Board. 

Your request for a pause is one that the council has already considered based on other similar representations, both at this committee and very recently at a Full Council meeting.  While recognising the cases put forward, the democratic decisions that were made were not to agree to a pause or delay and to therefore continue with the project and move forward in line with its agreed programme. 


I agree with you that Valley Gardens will have an impact for a generation – a generation that deserves to live in a city with clean air, better, good quality open spaces, accessible public transport, easier movement for pedestrians and cyclists and where a balance is restored between those important priorities and the dominance of the motor car. 

That is our vision and I would like to think that we can work with you to achieve it.  


63.41   RESOLVED- That the Committee note the deputation.

Supporting documents:


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