Villagers and business owners have slammed proposals for new parking and access restrictions, fearing they will damage trade and disrupt those trying to park outside their homes.
Brighton and Hove City Council is currently drawing up a 10 year master plan for the Stanmer Estate to protect the historical buildings and landscape of the surrounding village.
As part of the study the council is investigating the impact of vehicle access and parking provision and is looking at ways to severely restrict the number of cars that either drive through or park in Stanmer Village.
There are 355 parking spaces within the park area and council figures suggest these meet current demand.
But increased traffic during peak periods, particularly on Sundays, is putting extra strain on places and has caused many visitors to park in the road along South Drive.
There is also concern that the current car parks in Dukes and Coldean Belt are being used by commuters as a park and ride, using those car parks and getting the bus into the city to avoid parking charges.
It is also believed that students use those car parks to avoid campus parking charges.
A report by the city council states “it would be desirable to relocate some or all of the on-street residential car parking within the village to an area away from the carriageway, particularly if the use of West Lane was promoted.”
And while it highlights that this option will not be favoured by residents of the village, it remains a proposal.
Plans for expanding car parking – which could also include introducing pay and display machines – have focused on Dukes and Coldean Belt, Stanmer House and the car park opposite the Stanmer Church.
It is hoped that by expanding the size of the current car parks and introducing charges and other restrictions it will discourage drivers from using the area and free up spaces.
Other options include combining the 78 and 79 bus services, which run through the village and Ditchling Beacon, to create a through service to go through Stanmer Park and the rest of the village before going down West Lane to Ditchling Road and up to Ditchling Beacon.
If this plan was to go ahead the service would be able to use the current bus lanes on the A270 Lewes Road.
The report states: “The current services are provided using double decker buses, some of which are open top. There is concern that the tree canopy on West Lane may need to be carefully managed to ensure that buses achieve suitable clearance from lower branches.
“Further detailed assessment of the turning movement requirements of bus services at key locations will need to be explored further. These include the corner of South Drive where it turns into Stanmer Village, the eastern end of West Lane at the rear of Stanmer Village and the route through Upper Lodges car park and the junction at this location with Ditchling Road.”
There are also doubts over whether the service could operate in both directions on West Lane because the road is narrow.
Other ideas include introducing residents’ parking permits.
But the plans, which are currently out to consultation, have caused concern among residents who are worried the council will remove their right to park in their own street.
Astra Grayland, a 33-year-old osteopath who lives in Stanmer Village, said: “Regarding the parking, I think the proposal is fairly preposterous, especially as I have two children under six. And the buses, that’s ridiculous, what with all the horse riders, cyclists and walkers we have around here.”
On the overall proposals, she added: “The person who designed it has no idea of the functionality of the park. It’s as if they imagine nobody lives here.”
Neil Harding, 44, a street cleaner from the village, said: “We haven’t been consulted. It seems to me they are trying to get the funding, then do the unpopular stuff. Sneaking it through really. They have put on the master plan that residents will be consulted. Well why hasn’t that happened already?”
Claire Wearn, 37, an art project manager from Brighton, regularly visits the area and questioned the council’s position that the current car parking situation was an aesthetic blight on the village.
She said: “I have been coming here for a couple of years. I feel like it would not be fair to residents to take away their parking spaces. It’s usually quite empty to be honest. The cars don’t spoil the aesthetic for me. I personally would find it much more ugly if they were to make a really big car park permanently.”
It is expected that the parking pressures will only get worse in the future due to council plans for regeneration. These include creating a South Downs National Park Visitors Centre.
The council’s report suggests that introducing parking charges is the most effective way of managing demand but also highlights this is likely to be met with resistance by residents and visitors.
It highlights that similar plans are already in place in similar areas including Preston Park, Ditchling Beacon and Devil’s Dyke.
Charges and restrictions, which would be aimed at “non-park” visitors like university students, could include making the Dukes and Coldean Belt car parks two hours short stay from Monday to Friday either with or without a parking charge, and with longer stays included with a rising charge per hour.
The council report states this will not penalise mid-week visitors, like dog walkers and other visitors, while deterring long stay “commuter” parking.
Business owners said the plans would not work and criticised the report for not taking into account the kind of customers many of the businesses have.
Lynda West, 67, who owns Stanmer Park Tea Rooms, said: “I have disabled and elderly people who come here because it’s accessible. They can park outside and come right in and there are not many places in Brighton they can do that.”
Residents had hoped that a meeting on March 5 would give them the chance to voice their concerns and provide them with details of the proposals.
But they said theywere left disappointed when the council refused to discuss the plan in detail with residents being told to put coloured stickers on posters set up in each corner of the room stating their preferences.
Jamie Hooper, who lives in Stanmer Village, said he and others had tried to press the council on whether the plans were purely for aesthetic reasons. He wants to know where residents would be expected to park their own cars if they were not allowed to park on the road in the village.
He said: “We have consistently asked the council how our visitors are expected to be able to visit us, and how the tea rooms will be able to keep their custom, many of whom are elderly, if non-villagers are expected to park a half mile away south of Stanmer House.
“We also believe that we should continue to be able to park outside our homes, just as many Brightonians can.”
The consultation will run on the proposals until May 2.
Another meeting is due to take place on today (April 24) at Stanmer House in Stanmer Park, from 7pm, where more information on the proposals will be presented.
Once the consultation is complete the council is due to bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund Parks for People or or a Heritage Grant to carry out restoration and improvement works in the village.