Market traders are to be helped to find a new site when they are pushed out for a new £38 million seafront attraction.

Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the West Pier Market, near Brighton beach, since it launched in 1996. However, traders have been told they will have to move as developers prepare for construction of the i360 observation tower.

More than 7,800 people signed a petition asking Brighton and Hove City Council to find stallholders an alternative place on the seafront to sell their wares.

Peter Fijalkowski, of the West Pier Traders Association, said: “The market has been very popular both for tourists and locals alike as is evidenced by the number who signed the petition.

“Up until now we have been paying the West Pier Trust rent but we have been told this will not be possible when building work starts.

“We have begun talks with the council and we’re very grateful for them helping us forward but there’s uncertainty and where there’s uncertainty, there’s anxiety.

“We’re calling for a commitment into the future to help preserve [the market] as an integral part of the seafront experience.

“It would be very sad if the i360, although great for regenerating the area, meant that the people who have made their living for years to lose their livelihoods.”

The petition received unanimous backing from all councillors during a town hall meeting held last week.

Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the council’s economic development and culture committee, said: “While the council is fully aware of the situation and certainly sympathise with traders following this impending eviction by the West Pier Trust, this problem is certainly not of the council’s making.

“While traders should be aware that permission for the market was only ever temporary, the council is looking to help in terms of finding a short-term location during the i360 construction.

“Any proposals for a permanent market will be explored as part of the wider seafront strategy. The council is not yet in position to make decision for permanent solution but certainly striving to find one.”

Coun Bowden added that the local authority must look at demand, current uses, available sites and competing businesses when drawing up any proposal.

The Argus contacted the West Pier Trust but had received no response at the time of going to press. Work on the i360 site is expected to begin shortly with the attraction potentially open by March 2015.