The £290 million King Alfred development is dead.

The Frank Gehry designed scheme planned for the Hove seafront was declared “finished” tonight by the man behind the project.

It comes after years of argument over whether the bold towers would either revitalise the city or become a blot on the landscape.

Yet in a letter to senior council officials seen by The Argus, Josh Arghiros, the director of developer Karis, revealed that after six years - and £13 million in costs - he remains hopeful a project could go ahead once the economy recovers in two or three years.

News of the scheme’s demise comes just hours before the contract between Karis and Brighton and Hove City Council ends.

Without a financial backer, the development agreement signed in November 2004 is expected to expire at midnight on Sunday, leaving Frank Gehry’s first project in England dead in the water.

The scheme, which included the construction of 751 homes in 11 buildings of up to 98 metres high, was thrown into doubt in July when Dutch bank ING withdrew its financial support because falling house prices no longer made it financially viable.