At a meeting of the policy and resources committee on 7th December the council voted by 9 to 6 to reject both of the proposed park and ride sites. Six of those anti votes were conservative but Tory leader Cllr. Peltzer-Dunn is supporting Braypool as the obvious site for a new facility.
The rejection scuppers the chances of a successful bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) for a rapid transit system (RTS), which was predicated on establishing a major new park and ride facility on the outskirts of the city. Some £20m of transport planning is now in serious jeopardy and almost certain to be lost for the foreseeable future.
But Cllr Peltzer Dunn is quoted in Saturday's Argus: - "As for park & ride, it was the Conservative's who suggested Braypool, which would have been far more suitable. We rejected Patcham Court Farm because it wasn't a park-and-ride"
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP COMMENT
For a council that has the expansion of park and ride as one of the key planks of its existing transport plan, the business community will not give up on the prospect of a new facility being created despite the setback this decision represents.
With 13,000 jobs and £380m of revenue dependent on getting visitors into the city park and ride is an option that could deliver half a million of them and it is essential to the future prosperity of the visitor economy. Any visitor that spends two hours in a traffic jam between Mill Road roundabout and the city centre is unlikely to relish a return to Brighton & Hove. Many are equally unlikely to decide that the train is a preferable option despite our best efforts to promote it as such. Indeed there is a serious question mark over increased train use on a service that already operates beyond 100% capacity (see earlier story in knowledgebase - Commuter trains are more than full - 23rd November).
A park & ride is also essential to our events strategy, not just for large venue events like concerts at the proposed Ice Arena at Black Rock but also for key dates in the events calendar such as the London to Brighton bike ride. The refusal by Southern trains to carry bikes back to London after the event chokes the city with private vehicles and lorries trying to pick up bikes from the city centre. A park and ride on the outskirts of the city could be the official pick-up point.
Although the rejection of Patcham Court Farm means there will be no new facility in the near future it at least clears the way to concentrate all efforts on Braypool which, with Conservative support, is deliverable.
The issues surrounding Braypool centre on the 'sequential test' for suitable sites and the fact that it is 250 metres north of the bypass, just inside the boundary of the proposed South Downs National Park. The Council ruled out any development north of the bypass five years ago at a time when our visitor numbers were about 5 million per annum. We now receive 8 million per annum.
The 'sequential test' for a suitable site prioritizes any brownfield site that would be fit for the purpose but now that the brownfield Patcham Court Farm site has been rejected it leaves only the greenfield Braypool fitting all the criteria for a park & ride.
The Local Plan states that any development on sites such as Braypool (i.e. in an AONB and north of the bypass) must be “in the national interest”. A park and ride that serves the needs of the National Park as well as the city would, by any definition, be in the national interest.
The decision to give planning consent for a park and ride at Braypool would almost certainly be called in for public inquiry by the Secretary of State but if the National Park Authority supported it, the chances of acceptance would be increased dramatically. Unfortunately the time scale for planning would be at least two years, which will not save the city’s bid for £20m of DfT funding for RTS, but Braypool now represents the best opportunity we have to provide a transport plan fit for the 21st century and fulfil the Council’s commitment to increasing park and ride provision.
The Economic Partnership will continue to lobby for park and ride at Braypool, which has always been its preferred site, and urges the rest of the business community to do the same.
Read related items on:
Park & Ride
Brighton & Hove City Council
Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership
Department for Transport
Patcham Court Farm