AN ALTERNATIVE vision for the restoration of the crumbling Victorian seafront has been unveiled.

Paul Nicholson has revealed a rival plan to Brighton and Hove City Council’s £24 million restoration of Madeira Terraces which he claims would require considerably less public investment.

The Chalk Architecture director has drawn up plans for a new green open space which would sit on the roof of luxury flats incorporating the detail and structure of the historic arches.

A hotel is also being considered along with shops, bars, restaurants, workshops and offices on the ground floor.

Backers of the scheme claim it could add up to 270 new jobs, around £400,000 in council tax and business rates and more than £5.4 million a year to the local economy.

The plans have been developed with structural engineer Jon Orrell, who has worked on the i360 and the West Pier, consultant and former council director Scott Marshall and Ian Coomber of commercial property agents Stiles Harold Williams.

They have also received backing from Conran+Partners architect and Riba Sussex chairman Paul Zara while Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth has called on the council to consider the proposals as part of a public consultation.

Mr Nicholson said the project offered an opportunity to reinvent the city’s seafront, reimagining precious public space and improving accessibility with new lifts.

He said the terraces were hugely underused with just “a solitary dog walker” using the facility outside of major events.

And the architect criticised plans unveiled by the council in June as a “like-for-like token populist development”.

He said his plans were first sketched on a napkin over a coffee more than two years ago to create a people’s promenade inspired by the work of Piet Oudolf along New York’s abandoned freight line.

Mr Nicholson said he was taking a commercial risk by releasing the plans but was keen to gauge public opinion.

He said the historic fabric of the arches would be retained within his proposal.

He added: “We have had significant commercial interest in the scheme, though have stopped short of confirming a developer backer.

“Public funds are in short supply and our city’s population is expanding rapidly. Should such a huge area of the public realm that is used by so few of Brighton’s population be repaired at such great expense without wider strategic consideration?”

Mr Nicholson said he hoped his plans would be considered by the council.


ARCHITECT Paul Nicholson is the latest to try and find a 21st century use for the city’s 860 metre long Victorian arched promenade.

Leading national architects Wilkinson Eyre unveiled their vision for the Victorian seafront in June in a project drawn up with the city council.

The £24 million restoration would see 50 glass fronted pods within the terrace arches hosting cafes, shops, businesses or “overnight beach huts” creating 170 new jobs and bringing £5 million annually into the city economy.

The 130-year-old terraces would be restored or replaced where necessary.

The project would be publicly funded with £4 million from the Government and a up to £19.6 million from the Public Works Loan Board.

The authority will know next spring if it has been successful with its initial bid for funding although it is competing with almost a dozen Sussex schemes and other projects countrywide for a slice of £36 million.

Another city architect has outlined his vision for the arches which he believes would make the perfect location for a motor museum.

LCE architects’ Nick Lomax, who finished runner-up in the competition for the King Alfred, unveiled his seafront regeneration project in January which included using the arches as glass fronted exhibition spaces for vehicles.

Also part of the architect’s vision was a monorail, modern wedding venue and a new pier.