The people of Brighton and Hove are being asked to back a rival scheme for the King Alfred leisure centre.

A group of local businessmen claim they have an alternative only a few weeks before a planning meeting decides whether Frank Gehry's audacious design can be built, Millionaire entrepreneur Mike Holland and his business partner John Regan believe their plan is better.

Last year the pair rescued the British Engineerium in Hove and Newlands School in Seaford after both were threatened with closure.

Architect Nick Lomax, who helped design Brighton's Jubilee Library, supports them and has promised to create a new design from scratch.

The plans offer a maximum 450 homes compared to 750 in Gehry's design. There would also be an Olympic-sized swimming pool and bowling facilities The proposal is supported by Conservative Brighton and Hove city councillors. Lib Dems have called it "interesting" but Labour and the Greens said it was too late to be coming up with new ideas with a planning meeting imminent.

Mr Holland said: "We are saying, give us a chance to demonstrate there is a viable alternative.

"At the very least, for now, please don't rush ahead. We feel it is a grave folly. We don't want another white elephant in Brighton and Hove.

"We are not anti-Gehry. Had it been another location it might have been okay."

The men said they have been thinking about the idea for years and have stepped in now because they are unhappy with what is being proposed by the developer Karis.

If councillors indicated their proposal had a chance, they would draw up detailed plans.

Mr Regan said that in 2002 the scheme was estimated at £15.9 million, or £19 million with car parking, for a 9,000 to 10,000 sq metre sports centre. It averaged out at £2,000 per sq metre.

He said: "We are now being told the facility is going to cost £46 million. That is a watered-down version of the brief. There is no indoor bowling. Why is it costing £46 million?"

Mr Regan believes his new plan could come in at £25 million for the sports centre, a similar cost to the £30 million K2 centre in Crawley.

He says the council administration is trying to push the scheme through before the election when Labour might lose seats.

Mr Lomax said he has "deep misgivings" about Karis's plans because the brief asked for too many homes.

He said people looking at it from the seafront will see nothing but a blank wall.

Josh Arghiros, managing director of Karis, dismissed the proposals.

He said: "If we are going to build a world-class sports centre with the world's greatest architect and it will be a sports centre that will be the envy of the world, it isn't going to cost the same as one built in Crawley.

"If they want a Crawley-esque sports centre, that isn't what we intend to do.

"We want an individual, inspiring, world class sports centre that will be the envy of the world, just like our city.

"Frank Gehry is probably the world's greatest architect.

"We have spent £10 million getting the design right, making sure the ground conditions are right.

"They have no idea what it costs to build because we've spent four years investigating by using the premier consultants."