Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.
Brighton council offers £14m loan to kickstart i360
12:40pm Tuesday 1st May 2012 in News
A £35 million viewing tower dubbed a potential “tourism magnet” could be back on track thanks to a funding boost.
Developers have now received £3 million from the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership, a panel designed to bring investment into the area.
Brighton and Hove City Council has also revealed it is prepared to loan the rest of the money – £14 million – to kick-start the project.
This means work could start on the project by the end of the year.
David Marks, of developers Marks Barfield, said: “We are not looking for a subsidy or a grant, and we will not put any burden on the taxpayer.
“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.”
A report will go to the council’s cabinet next week recommending the local authority look at loaning the money.
It would be repaid over 12 years from profits from the attraction.
Independent economists Aecom have said the i360 is likely to earn about two-and-a-half times more than the loan.
If judged viable, the loan will be signed off by the council in July.
The opening of the i360 would see the removal of the Brighton Wheel, which is currently based near the Palace Pier.
Geoffrey Bowden, the council’s cabinet member for culture, recreation and tourism, 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% of their funding in place.
“This project being at a standstill is costing the city at least £5 million 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.”
A council spokesman said the loan option could not always be used as there were strict regulations meaning it could only be used where a project was self-funding.
The £3 million was from £23 million of grants from Coast to Capital announced last night.
About £6 million was awarded to the £83 million |Airfield Park business centre in Bognor which will create more than 800 jobs.
A further £1.2 million has been handed to those behind the Malling Brooks scheme in Lewes which is the first part of a multimillion pound regeneration of the town centre.