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, local celebrity and antiques expert has joined the SJCAG in lobbying the Council.
“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.”
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.
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