The future for a derelict Brighton development site could be sand castles.

Brighton and Hove City council is expected to approve a three-year deal to introduce Britain’s largest sand sculpture festival to the disused Black Rock site next week.

Organisers of the Weston-Super-Mare Sand Sculpture Festival want to bring the attraction to Brighton from next April.

The Black Rock Project Board said the attraction was the best choice for the site, out of four possible options.

The alternatives were two proposals for sea containers to be used for art and leisure facilities, plus a drive-in cinema.

The council’s Economic Development Committee is recommended to approve consent for the festival to rent the Black Rock site for three years at a meeting on Thursday.

A report ahead of next week’s meeting said the Black Rock Project Board considered the proposals last month.

Festival proposal

It said: “The proposal which scored most highly was the Brighton Sand Sculpture Festival.

“Members of the project board felt that the operator had a proven track record having successfully operated in another seaside resort for seven years.

"The other operators, whilst having had some experience in their chosen fields, were venturing into new territory with their proposals.

"One of the sea container proposals was discounted early on in the assessment due to the requirement from the operator for a five-year minimum lease.

“The drive-in cinema proposed a year-round provision; however the screenings were restricted to after-dark thus not offering a destination or any leisure provision during the daytime. The remaining sea container proposal did not appear to provide a viable all-year round offer.

“A proposal for shared use of the site between the drive-in cinema and the sand sculptures was suggested. However, further investigation revealed that this option was not considered viable on the part of the operators of the drive-in cinema.”

Popular attraction

Founders of the Sand Sculpture Festival said they expected more than 100,000 visitors to the attraction over the three years, with entry costing around £5.

The 6,000 tonnes of sand needed to make the sculptures would need to be imported from a quarry.

Plans for an International Arena were finally dropped in July, nine years after they were first given council backing.

The proposed 7,500-seater indoor arena would have been double the capacity of the Brighton Centre, included an all-year ice rink and more than 100 flats, restaurants, bars and retail facilities.

The city council believed the mothballed development would create between 400 and 450 jobs and bring about £8 million a year into the local economy.

Co-founder of the Sand Sculpture Festival Nicola Wood said: “The Weston exhibition grew from just one sculpture to 4,000 tonnes of sand. We are hoping the Brighton site could build on that.

"We are still in discussion with the council about how big it could be and the costs.”

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