Public meeting tonight will discuss AMEX development and ‘Better Buses Scheme’

Besi Besemar June 12, 2013


The St James Street Community Action Group (SJCAG) campaign to bring investment and support to Kemp Town and St James Street continues to gather support from local businesses and residents.

Volunteers from SJCAG, one of Brighton’s fastest growing Local Action Teams (LAT), have visited more than 60 local businesses in the last month in the St James’s area to explain the ramifications of the proposed Edward Street Quarter development planned on the site of the old AMEX Building and the implications of the introduction of the new Better Bus Scheme on Edward Street. All businesses visited expressed opposition to both proposals which they claim ignore St James Street residents and businesses.

David Spafford, Vice Chairperson of SJCAG wants the three local Green Councillors to listen to the views of the electorate rather than follow the predetermined agenda established by AMEX and Council Officers and is calling for the scheme to be paused until the needs of those who work and live in the St James Street are taken into consideration.

Mr Stafford, said:

“It is only fair and logical for Councillor Bowden to consider the economic and environmental needs of St James Street.” 

The draft planning brief for AMEX/Edward Street states the aim is “to create a dynamic commercial district which is attractive as a first class business and residential destination” and yet ignores St James Street entirely, exposing residents to even greater pollution in the absence of investment in improving its environment.

The Better Bus Areas proposal reinforce this lack of vision by ignoring the pollution and congestion currently endured by residents and business owners in St James Street and even proposes changes that will increase the bus traffic on the streets, particularly St James Street where more than 600 buses a day drive up the street each day already.

Mark Stacey
Mark Stacey

Mark Stacey, local celebrity and antiques expert has joined the SJCAG in lobbying the Council.

Mark said:

“Whilst agreeing improvements are needed widely throughout our city,  I would like to strongly oppose these proposals for an Edward Street development. Whilst we all want safer roads and less car use this proposal in my opinion will have huge detrimental effect on St James’s street. Why is there no mention of cleaning up St. James’s street, looking at the huge volume of buses using this street, the abuse of the pavements and one way system by cyclists there? As a shop owner here this proposal seems to provide huge investment and opportunities for Edward Street and nothing for our long established shopping street.”

Cllr Geoffrey Bowden
Cllr Geoffrey Bowden

Ward Councillor, Geoffrey Bowden caused a furious reaction from the local business community after writing a letter to the Argus, supporting the AMEX development. The City Council issued a similar release ignoring the concerns of Kemptown residents and businesses.

In his letter Councillor Bowden said:

“There is nothing in the draft planning brief for the AMEX site in Edward Street which represents a threat to St James’s Street or its traders (The Argus, June 1) – in fact, quite the reverse.

“A redevelopment of the former AMEX building would bring more than 1,000 office jobs to the location. There could also be more than 60 homes. These new residents and workers can only boost St James’s Street.

“Some shops or commercial premises may be acceptable as part of the redevelopment of the AMEX site. However, the brief makes it clear this would be limited with public spaces designed to encourage activity. The brief also calls for better links and access to the wider area.

“Rest assured nobody at the council has any interest in diminishing the vitality and commercial viability of St James’s Street.
Following the negative reaction to the publication of his letter, Cllr Bowden sought a meeting with local hotelier Nick Head, who leads on Pedestrian Priority and Shared Space for SJCAG in St James’s Street.At the meeting Cllr Bowden expressed his support for SJSAG’s community mandate for a Shared Space scheme for St James’s Street to reduce pollution and improve the viability of St James’s Street including the re-routing of buses. Councillor Bowden undertook to arrange a meeting between Nick Head for the SJCAG Shared Space initiative for St James’s Street and the Bus Co to open up discussions to find ways forward. That meeting has happened on June 11 and the bus company maintained they were serving “the needs of their customers” by running buses up St James Street.Councillor Bowden said he took on board and understood the concerns of residents and business owners in the St James’s Street area regarding the inclusion of retail and leisure proposals in the redevelopment of the old AMEX site and suggested the SJSAG formally submit to the Council consultation as an LAT.
Nick Head asked if Brighton & Hove City Council planners would be prepared to include a maximum limit to retail and leisure retail permitted in the outline planning permission for the new development.  Cllr Bowden said he encouraged such a submission by the SJSAG LAT to the City Council, he also suggested that the Better Buses Scheme in Edward Street could present an opportunity to re route buses away from St James’s Street. He gave his full support and promised to assist the SJSAG to work with officers and others to further develop and find means and ways to progress a Shared Space Scheme for St James’s Street.
A SJSAG general meeting to discuss the two proposals is to be held on Wednesday, June 12 at the Dorset Gardens Methodist Church starting at 6.30pm.

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