ONE of Sussex's most flamboyant businessmen has told The Argus he is “interested” in buying Eastbourne's fire damaged pier.

Sheikh Abid Gulzar, chairman of Lion Hotels, has met with with the pier’s owners to discuss the possibility of the purchase but said he “needs some more answers” before the move goes ahead.

The pier, he added, needs “a lot of love”.

He said: “The pier has lots of problems and lots of major works which have to be done.

“I would be interested in a project which I can put my heart and mind in to.

“If I am given the chance I would want to know a lot more before we do a deal. It is a big white elephant and you have to know exactly what you are buying.”

Mr Gulzar, who owns several hotels in the town, even suggested the possibility of a second pier in a crescent moon shape to built on the seafront – inspired by similar structures in Dubai.

The flamboyant hotelier is well known in the town and owns Eastbourne’s Mansion and Albany hotels – as well as the Boship Farm Hotel near Hailsham.

The 69-year-old from India described Eastbourne as the most “beautiful place in the country”. He is known for his frequent donations to the town’s charities.

The businessman recently lost out on purchasing the Cavendish Hotel on the seafront to add to his portfolio – with the four-star venue instead being sold to the chain Britannia Hotels.

The Argus:

Eastbourne Pier’s owners Cuerden Leisure said last month they were considering their options regarding the pier on the first anniversary of the devastating fire on July 30.

Earlier this year Eastbourne Borough Council refused Cuerden Leisure permission to install a temporary children’s ride on the pier.

About one third of the Grade II listed structure was destroyed last year when a fire ripped through the arcades hall last year.

It was partially re-opened in September 2014 but a large section remains empty while extensive repair work is carried out.