Development of Lewes Road began northwards from the Level in the 1860's and to begin with, judging by St. Martin's Church and imposing Gladstone Terrace opposite, there were some aspirations to cater for the Victorian middle-class. The entire east side of the road, up to the extra-mural cemetery was closely planted with trees that, by the coming of the trams in 1901, had grown to near maturity. Sadly, these trees were deemed to inconvenience tram passengers on the top deck and, instead of being carefully pruned, were completely removed. The trams & trolley-buses came and went but, although a few trees have now been planted, the road has remained generally rather sad & shabby ever since. Nowadays, it also suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the City. I said 'generally rather sad & shabby' because it is only fair to mention the notable exception of the 'Franklin Arms' which, having a deep forecourt planted with two fine semi-mature trees, provides a welcome oasis.
The city council now has nearly £8M to spend on a scheme to improve the transport flows, street scene and air quality along Lewes Road and surrounding streets and will be staging exhibitions of their broad proposals for the area in November & December. This will provide an opportunity for residents and businesses to feed-in their own suggestions which will then be used to help draw up more detailed plans before more consultation next year.
It will not be easy. Making the road more pedestrian-friendly, and reducing air-pollution are mutually incompatible targets. The first requires widening the pavements and providing more crossings. The second requires speeding-up and smoothing the traffic flow.
Venues and dates for the exhibitions are:- Hollingdean Community Centre, November 11 and 12; Coldean’s Larchwood Community Café, November 15 and 19; Hanover Community Centre, November 21, 23, 26; Moulsecoomb Leisure Centre bar, December 2, 3; Bevendean’s Norwich Drive Church Hall, December 8, 9, 10.
Times vary – for details see www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/lewesroad or call 01273 290487.