ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have welcomed proposals to reopen Madeira Drive.

The Brighton seafront road has been closed to traffic in April in a bid to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

The controversial decision sparked a fierce debate between those wanting the road reopened immediately and others seeking its permanent closure.

Concerns were raised that Blue Badge holders were having to ask to use the toilets and some Madeira Drive traders, who rely on tourists, could no longer afford their rent.

The Argus:

As a result, the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council are now proposing to reopen the road one-way for traffic with a new a dedicated two-way cycle track.

This comes after a council survey found the majority of people – 60 per cent – did not support its full closure.

The proposal, which looks set to be confirmed at next week’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability (ETS) Committee, has won the backing of environmental campaigners.

Chris Todd, from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to permanently change Madeira Drive for the better.

The Argus:

“It’s a win, win, win situation if we can get the design right. That will be critical for making this work properly and getting the most out of the scheme.”

The Tories proposed reopening the road at a council meeting on August 13.

It came after Brighton Palace Pier boss Anne Ackord warned some businesses would not survive if the road remained closed for the summer season.

In a scathing attack on the scheme, the pier boss and Tourism Alliance chairwoman branded the removal of disabled parking bays as “discrimination”.

Responding to the proposals, Conservative transport spokesperson councillor Lee Wares said: “We are of course pleased to see this change and that Labour and Green councillors now agree with us

“It is just a shame however they have taken so long and as a result, traders have suffered more than was necessary.

“It has also meant that Blue Badge holders have endured unacceptable marginalisation by not having access to disabled parking bays on Madeira Drive next to the pier and that they have had the indignity of asking a stranger if they could use the toilet.”

“We are in grave danger of common-sense prevailing,” he added.

If introduced, the scheme would allow one-way access eastbound from the Palace Pier roundabout to Duke’s Mound.

It would provide a two-way protected cycle lane on the carriageway by removing parking on the south side of the road

There will be a wider promenade for pedestrians due to the cycle lanes relocation.

Additionally, there will be 13 parking bays for Blue Badge holders to use.