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Brighton's i360 still has funding gap, developer admits
The developer of a major tourist attraction been told it is ‘drinking in the last chance saloon’ after failing to secure crucial funding.
Marks Barfield, the firm behind the controversial i360 scheme on Brighton seafront, has admitted it has so far failed to attract enough money to build the giant tower.
Earlier this year, David Marks, boss at the London-based firm, said he was confident work would begin on the structure before summer.
The £38 million viewing tower has been dubbed a potential ‘tourism magnet’ and is expected to attract up to 800,000 visitors a year and create more than 500 jobs.
In May last year, Brighton and Hove City Council offered to lend £14 million and the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise partnership agreed to a further £3 million to kick-start the project.
But the council loan depends on Marks Barfield raising the rest of the money independently and The Argus understands it has not been able to do so to date.
Now critics of the project have cast doubt on whether it will go ahead at all.
David Marks said he will make a statement to the Economic Development and Culture Committee at the council next month.
‘Optimistic’ He said: “I will be making a statement to update everyone on the funding position of the i360 in due course.
“In the meantime we are continuing to make progress and are optimistic of reaching the target.
“There has been some slippage in our time scales. We remain confident of achieving the objective of delivering the i360 and are working very hard to resolve the outstanding issues.
“There is a funding gap we are working hard to plug.”
Conservative Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn was a member of the cabinet which gave the go-ahead to the loan negotiations in 2012.
He said: “I have grown more doubtful over the past few months. There is a funding gap.
“Marks Barfield is not saying it can fill the gap, it is saying it may be able to fill it.
“They are drinking in the last chance saloon.
“I do not want to be a doom-monger but the longer this goes on the less likely it is to happen.”
A council spokesperson said: “The council’s position remains unchanged in terms of level of financial support and is committed to working with Marks Barfield.
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