AN AMBITIOUS plan to remodel central parks has been approved.

The scheme to change dramatically the layout of the green spaces of Valley Gardens in Brighton’s central boulevard was passed unanimously by the city’s planning committee yesterday.

But before those changes and accompanying alterations to the traffic flow on either side of the parks can go ahead, the environment and transport committee still has to consider the plans later this month.

Yesterday’s meeting at Hove Town Hall heard from officers that the plan for Valley Gardens south and north and for the green space surrounding St Peter’s church, would increase the amount of land available to the public by seven per cent.

That includes the merging of Valley Gardens with St Peter’s, removing an existing traffic junction.

The church’s car park will move from the south of the building to the north and reduce in size.

It will be replaced by a hardstanding public square to the south of St Peter’s.

Suggestions made in the earlier stages to move or remove the Mazda fountain have been abandoned and the fountain and the 1989 statue plinths which stand nearby will all be retained. No trees will be removed in the course of the remodelling and 175 new ones will be planted.

The relandscaping will add more diagonal paths for pedestrians and cyclists and remove the fences which currently make the gardens inaccessible to pedestrians.

The £10 million Valley Gardens project, paid for by Government funds, was originally proposed by the Green administration in 2013.

The vision for the scheme is to open up the central green spaces to cyclists and pedestrians.

It includes major proposed changes to traffic flow –which are not the subject of this planning application –with the route on the eastern side of the gardens to become two way and the west to be reserved for public transport in a bid to make the gardens more accessible from that side.

Councillor Joe Miller (Con) told the committee: “It will create something in the city that the city can be really proud of.”

Councillor Lynda Hyde (Con) had concerns, but still voted for the application. She said: “I’m concerned about the maintenance of this vast area.

“When I look around the city, when I see our parks and gardens, it really is atrocious.

“And I’m concerned that it will become a new home for our drug addicts and drunks like The Level has become.”

A further debate on the scheme, incorporating the proposed transport changes, is due to take place at the environment and transport committee later this month.