Greater Brighton is bidding for a slice of an £840 million government fund to spend on tackling the area’s worsening transport congestion problem.
The City Region has made a first round bid to the Department for Transport to spend on improvements to traffic flow, particularly on the A259 coast road and also the A270 and the A23.
In its submission it says that although there are already large movements of employees within the coastal area, congestion is holding businesses back.
The submission points to Department for Transport figures which show the average delay on the A roads is more than double the rest of south east England. Furthermore, during peak times, in the 60-minute drive-time band, used as a standard measure, commuters from Brighton city centre can only expect to reach as far as Worthing, a mere 12 miles away.
The report adds: “This significantly reduces the area’s attractiveness to businesses and future investors; impacts on productivity; reduces the retention of staff, and limits growth.”
At this stage the government is not looking for firm proposals for transport schemes, nor has it signalled how much each successful bidder will receive.
The initial submission is an outline of need. Greater Brighton says it wants to work on improving the infrastructure of, particularly, the A259. This is so that a fully-integrated and sustainable transport system can be developed that will increase the reliability of public transport services and create safer, more attractive, cycle lanes while building network capacity for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).
Greater Brighton chairman, Cllr Andy Smith, also leader of Lewes District Council, said: “This bid shows the strength of Greater Brighton in that working together we can make a more powerful regional case. We all recognise that the coast road is a drag on our economy and that is why we should explore every avenue we can to get funding to make improvements.”
Cllr Gill Mitchell, Lead Member for Transport at Brighton & Hove City Council, which co-ordinated and led the application for funding on behalf of the partners involved, said: “We know that we need to address people’s journeys to work and air quality issues across our local authority boundaries, so it was essential that we approached this bid jointly. I really hope that the application persuades the government that our communities’ and our economy’s deserve investment. The special, built-up and natural environments that we have here make us very different to any other city region.”
The bid criteria required a focus on improving 'urban corridors' for commuting and businesses and therefore Greater Brighton decided to call its submission ‘Connected Coastal City’ area and focus this time on Worthing, Adur, Brighton & Hove and the Newhaven area.
Greater Brighton is a City Region collective formed of local authorities including Brighton & Hove, Adur, Lewes, Mid Sussex, Crawley, Lewes and Worthing. It has business partners too including Gatwick Airport and the Coastal West Sussex Business Partnership as well as the Universities of Brighton and Sussex.
In its four year existence, the City Region has managed to secure more than £160 million of capital expenditure for key infrastructure projects.