The developer behind a £38 million tourist attraction said he had “no fears” it will be delivered - despite the hammer blow of private funding falling through.

A year ago, Marks Barfield was ready to start constructing the i360 on land near Brighton’s West Pier.

But just weeks before contractors were due to move onto the seafront site, £20 million of previously safe private funding was withdrawn.

Despite admitting the “tourism magnet” will fail to open by its target date of March 2015, David Marks, who is behind the scheme, told The Argus he has “no fears” over delivering it.

Town hall bosses said they continued to back the scheme and refused to withdraw the offer of a £15 million loan to kick-start the project.


However, Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s economic development committee, said he would “not be tied down” on naming a date when the tower would be built.

Labour councillor Brian Fitch said he felt there were “major problems” with the project, adding it was looking “amateurish”.

Mr Marks, who was behind the creation of the London Eye, told The Argus he wanted to go as fast as he could.

He said: “I do not have any fears. People were saying the same thing about the London Eye. It was a different time then but the feeling is the economy is picking up.

“I look forward to looking back when it's up and saying we were right all along.”

The comments came as he updated councillors on progress on the project, which 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.

After funding fell through, Mr Marks said the firm went back to the market six months ago.

He told councillors that while interest has been high, most were only willing to invest once it had been built.

Any money loaned by the council will only be signed off when private funding has been secured and will be paid back over ten years, with interest.

When asked about the local authority backing, Mr Marks said: “This is not money direct from taxes, it is money the council can loan. The taxpayer is not saddled with financial risk.”

Mr Marks said he would continue to use his own money to work with the West Pier Trust on preliminary works and improving the appearance of the area.

The comments came after Selma Montford, of the Brighton Society, asked why the area opposite Regency Square was suffering from “serious blight” after the i360 stalled.

However, Coun Bowden said the council would continue with its £4 million plans to bring the surrounding Victorian seafront arches into use.

He said these would be marketed to local businesses this autumn.

Speaking about the i360, Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn previously said: “They are drinking in the last chance saloon.”

When complete, the attraction will see visitors will board a pod and go on a 20-minute journey up to 139 metres into the air.

Once open, the rival Brighton Wheel, operating near Brighton’s Palace Pier, would have to cease operating under an agreement with the council.