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The Lanes traffic ban plan splits community
Council chiefs admitted to a public inquiry that closing part of a historic shopping area to traffic will see some people lose out – but change will lead to “overwhelming”
benefits to far more.
As it looks to make The Lanes in Brighton more accessible to its hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, Brighton and Hove City Council is proposing to pedestrianise some of the streets in its Old Town.
But with residents, businesses and other users at odds as to what’s best for the city’s economic heart, the decision is now the focus of a public inquiry.
The scheme for the Old Town is the final stage of three-phase programmeto improve walking routes in the area, which first started in 2006.
Plans were first presented a year ago when people were asked their views on two ideas which involved closing off some of the streets to traffic.
With most agreeing that work needed to be done to improve the shopping and residential area, the council drew up more detailed plans.
However, there were objections to seven of the eight traffic orders when they were advertised in December.
Instead of resolving the issues, the local authority agreed to allocate about £25,000 for the decision to be taken to a public inquiry, after which an independent inspector could have the final say.
Speaking on the first day of the hearing at Brighton’s Hilton Metropole, Kate Selway, a barrister from London-based Radcliffe Chambers, representing the council, said the local authority believed there was a need for a “balance between cars and pedestrians” in the area.
She said: “The council recognises that difficult choices have to be made.
“If the [aims of reducing traffic] are achieved then the case of making the [traffic] orders is considered to be overwhelming with benefits far outweighing the inconvenience to some.”
Despite a fire alarm interrupting some of the proceedings, a number of people gave evidence to inspector Ian Jenkins at the hearing yesterday.
Olivia Reid, of restaurant Terre a Terre in East Street, Brighton, supported the plan to shut the road to traffic for most of the day.
Speaking on behalf of 15 firms in the street, Ms Reid said: “As a business that has been part of East Street for 20 years, I’m aware of the efforts to improve the area but also of its potential.”
Stephen Young, of Living Streets Brighton and Hove, which campaigns for better routes for pedestrians, said: “Pedestrian friendly equals business friendly.”
But Sheila Boyer of the Friends Meeting House in Ship Street, Brighton, said plans to close Prince Albert Street would mean coffins having to be carried 70 metres from the church to the hearse at funerals.
Astatement from Stuart Lauchlan, of the Clarendon Mansions Residents Association, said he was concerned the closure of Brills Lane would block vehicle and loading access to their homes.
In response, the council said it did not feel that 30 metres was too far for residents to walk.
The inquiry, which is expected to last two to three days, continues today in the Hilton Metropole from 10am.
The changes focus on an area between West Street, Grand Parade, Kings Road and North Street, which Brighton and Hove City Council has dubbed the Old Town.
Following consultation, the local authority proposed to implement the following measures:
- East Street to be closed to traffic between 11am and 7pm each day.
- The section of Ship Street between North Street and Duke Street to be closed to traffic from 11am each day.
- The section of Prince Albert Street between Ship Street and Black Lion Street to be permanently closed to traffic.
- Access to Boyce’s Street limited only to those vehicles accessing property on the street.
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