FUNDING has been approved to replace the Aquarium roundabout on the seafront with a T-junction.

Coast To Capital, a partnership of business and council leaders, has agreed £6 million in funds for phase three of the Valley Gardens project in Brighton.

The development will involve replacing the seafront Aquarium roundabout with a junction in a bid to tackle congestion in the city centre.

If the plans go ahead, Brighton and Hove City Council will also create new public spaces in front of Pavilion Gardens and the Royal Albion Hotel as well as 350 metres of cycle lanes.

City transport chief Councillor Anne Pissaridou said Valley Gardens would be “a destination in its own right”.

“It will contribute to our wider aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 by making it possible for more of us to make our journeys using public transport, cycling, or walking,” she said.

“It will provide the infrastructure needed to give people access to the whole area.”

But Conservative transport spokesman Councillor Lee Wares said the decision was a “surprise” as Coast To Capital had said the project was low value for money.

“It is disappointing that our internal audit into the legitimacy of the business case was kicked into the long grass by Labour, supported by the Greens,” he said.

“I suppose we will now see Labour dig up the new road surface it just laid around the roundabout for £140,000 to install a disastrous T-junction.”

Cllr Wares said the Conservatives will call for a report into the project’s environmental impact at Thursday’s full council meeting. Meanwhile Councillor Steve Bell said the grant for the project was “a kick in the teeth” for business owners, after Brighton Palace Pier chief Anne Ackord expressed.

“I am staggered Coast To Capital has approved this grant,” said Cllr Bell.

“It is truly a kick in the teeth for our local businesses small and large, and it will affect our tourism.

“They and we as a Conservative group collectively have raised concerns all throughout this process.

“This disastrous decision will stick in our city’s throat.”

A “task and finish group” will meet regularly to design the scheme.

A full consultation on the detailed designs will run next year.

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