A MOMENTOUS occasion was hailed with the unveiling of a multimillion-pound seafront regeneration project and the ground-breaking of the i360.

The Brighton i360 – a £40 million “vertical pier” - is set to transform the west end of the seafront.

Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, promised the tower, with the world’s first vertical cable car, would help the area flourish.

He said: “This world’s first is going to have huge impact in Brighton and Hove. It will put us on the map to a whole new level.

“Every other tourist destination in the world is innovating. We cannot stand still.

“It felt like a bold and risky thing to do, but sometimes you have just got to go forward if it’s the right thing.”

Architect David Marks, who designed the London Eye, said the tower would pay tribute to the 150-year-old West Pier by reusing original features such as the toll booths.

Visitors will be able to be one-and-half times higher than Sussex Heights and see large swathes of the South Downs National Park and 20 to 30 miles along the coast.

The innovative structure will be shipped to shore and built in sections by engineers such as JT Mackley, based in Small Dole, and Hemsley Orrell Partnership, based in Hove.

Mr Marks said: “All of Brighton and Hove will be at your feet.

“Once complete, a piece of Brighton and Hove heritage will be brought back to life.”

The £40 million project has been paid for with a £36 million council bid to the government’s public works loan board, which is loaned to Brighton i360 Ltd.

The remaining £4 million was loaned by Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Meanwhile the new award-winning seafront arches, which replaced the crumbling Victorian originals, feature a new creative quarter, which will house eight independent units and studios.

Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, told how the regeneration project began more than two years ago after fears were raised over the deteriorating arches’ capacity to support the promenade and A259.

The new bridge structure can support up to 40 tons and has a brick facade, a reproduction of the original.

The 26 arches now house ten units and studios, including The Lollipop Shoppe, hair studio Banana Louis and The Hat Hut.