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Brighton Tower Development – design by Marks Barfield architects in England, UK
3 May 2012
Brighton i360 Tower
Government’s ‘credit crunch’ fund could restart Brighton tower plan
Design: Marks Barfield architects
The architects behind the London Eye have received a financial boost to their plans for a 175-metre viewing tower on Brighton seafront.
The new government-backed Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership has just agreed a £3m loan to the so-called i360 project from its Growing Places Fund. The government set up the fund specifically to beat the credit crunch and overcome lack of confidence from investors.
However having so far raised £18m of the required £35m, the tower’s developers and designers Marks Barfield still need a further £14m.
Now Brighton & Hove City Council is proposing stepping in to kickstart the scheme. The plan would be for the council to borrow the funding and use it to make a secured loan of £14m to the developers. The authority stresses it has not suddenly found a new source of council funds.
The council’s cabinet on May 10 is expected to agree in principle to look into the option. If it is judged viable, a final decision would be made in July. If agreed, the project could be re-started within two or three months and completed in two years.
Officials believe the risks will be relatively low while benefits could be huge. A completed tower would be expected to attract up to 800,000 visitors a year, spending upwards of £5m in the city and encouraging up to 18,000 more people to stay overnight.
It would create 154 jobs directly and up to 440 spin-off posts, boosting businesses in the area, including nearby Preston Street, a former restaurant hub now struggling.
Building the tower would also enable completion of seafront regeneration works, including refurbishing and letting adjacent derelict seafront arches and completing the landscaping east and west of the site.
Other financial benefits for taxpayers include the council receiving one per cent of ticket revenues plus around £500k a year in interest on the loan, set to be repaid over 12 years.
Developers would repay the loan from profits made on the attraction. Independent economists AECOM have said the i360 is likely to earn around two and a half times more money than is needed to repay the loan, making it low-risk for the council. Even lowest-possible visitor projections enable safe repayment of the loan, they advise.
Cabinet councillor for culture, recreation and tourism Geoffrey Bowden said: “At this stage we’re looking into the option. This would be a business and regeneration proposal by the council, not an act of charity.
“We are proposing this because the project is at such an advanced stage and the developers already have 50 per cent of their funding in place.
“This project being at a standstill is costing the city at least £5m a year, blocking completion of the seafront regeneration and preventing lots of other spin-off business taking place nearby.
“By making a loan, we end those problems, boost public coffers by renting out nearby seafront arches, collect more in business rates, radically smarten the seafront and create hundreds of jobs.”
David Marks of Marks Barfield, who conceived and developed the London Eye said: “This is fantastic news. The £3 million loan from Coast to Capital and the backing from Brighton and Hove City Council, if it is agreed, will ‘unlock’ the project, which had stalled as a result of the reluctance of banks to lend in current market conditions.
“We are not looking for a subsidy or a grant, and we will not put any burden on the tax payer. I firmly believe our investment in the i360 will be the trigger for a lot more investment in the city, just as the London Eye was for the South Bank.
“Brighton i360 will be a family-oriented, sustainable tourist attraction and much more, as it will fundamentally help underpin the business economy of Brighton and Hove and strengthen its international profile.
“The project received cross party support at planning and is ready to go. It has been fantastic working with Brighton and Hove City Council and I am really excited by this development.”
Officials say that in the unlikely event of a default on the loan, the council could take over the site, the business or its assets.
The 45-metre Brighton Wheel, currently operating on the seafront has permission to continue trading for five years until 2016, or until the i360 is built, whichever is the sooner.
Brighton i360 Tower Construction News – Jan 2016
20 Sep 2010
New images released of Brighton i360 development on seafront
These spectacular new images created by F10 Studios of the Brighton i360 development show stunning panoramic views from inside the elegant observation tower looking out across the city and the South Downs.
Brighton & Hove City Council granted planning permission back in 2006 for Britain’s highest observation tower, located in front of the derelict West Pier on Brighton seafront. The 175-metre high tower will have an ascending and descending circular viewing platform to allow visitors to enjoy breath-taking views of the city and along the coast.
Marks Barfield Architects, the team behind ‘The London Eye’ commissioned Brighton based visualisation studio, F10 Studios, to create these stunning images to help attract a high quality international sponsor for the i360.
David Marks, of Marks Barfield Architects, who designed the i360, said the steel for the tower had already been rolled and the project was ‘shovel-ready’, but the credit crisis had temporarily held up finalising funding for the project.
He said: “We have made a significant investment in the project and remain fully committed to delivering the i360.”
The development will become an iconic landmark bringing in huge economic and tourism benefits to the city. The hugely successful ‘London Eye’ ultimately became the landmark London never knew it needed, and has since become a shining symbol of the capital city.
Agency: F10 Studios – www.f10studios.co.uk
Client: Marks Barfield www.marksbarfield.com
Software: 3D Max 2010 / V-ray 1.5 sp4a
i360 Brighton images / information from F10 Studios