A BID to revitalise parts of Brighton and Hove’s aged seafront could get a £24 million funding boost amid a new plan to make it an all year round attraction.

Brighton and Hove City Council has received positive funding news on plans for a new conference centre and arena at Black Rock and the renovation of Madeira Terraces and has also made a five-year improvement plan.

If successful, the bids will add to what Brighton and Hove City Council believes is the biggest programme of seafront investment anywhere in the country to move it away from a seasonal to a year-round visitor attraction.

The news comes 18 months after The Argus launched the Seafront 2020 campaign calling for an ambitious long-term vision for our county’s precious seafront.

One of our most pressing points calling for a five-year plan has now been met in Brighton and Hove with the recent publication of the Seafront Investment Plan 2016-2021.

The extensive report, produced with engineering consultants Mott MacDonald, outlines timelines for major seafront projects already in the pipeline as well as outlining an aspiration to complete the £100 million renovation of seafront arches west of Brighton Palace Pier.

It states: "Much of the coastal city’s visitor offer has been seasonal in the past, reducing the strength of this sector’s contribution to the economy. Development needs to ensure year-round utilisation of the seafront’s offer.

The report adds: "Proposals should support the year-round sport, leisure and cultural role of the seafront for residents and visitors whilst complementing its outstanding historic setting and natural landscape value.

Regarding Madeira Drive the report states the council and partners are working together

to "create a year-round usable space that extends the total footfall along the seafront right through to the Marina."

The report also explores how major projects could be funded with the authority “actively considering” borrowing against forecast business rates growth at an expanded Churchill Square to subsidise the cost of the Black Rock Arena.

Also explored is a possible supplement to business rates which could raise around £2 million a year though the report is quick to stress there are no current plans to bring this in.

Council leader Warren Morgan said: “The Seafront Investment Plan details our vision of how the whole seafront can be improved, the options for funding it and the challenges to be overcome.

“Madeira Terraces is a complex, long-term project but we will stick with it.

“It’s not possible anyway to start immediately because we have so much other regeneration work happening on the seafront.

“Progress is being made towards agreeing the conditional land agreement with Standard Life Investments for the £540 million Brighton Waterfront and we're aiming to reach this milestone in the coming months.”

One of those major projects is the proposal to create 50 glass-fronted pods to nestle in the restored Madeira Terrace. The council has recently learnt its £4 million bid is through the first round of the Coastal Communities Fund.

The council also hopes to learn whether it has been successful in its £20 million for Local Growth Deal funding for the new centre at Black Rock.

The project was one of six Sussex projects shortlisted which could eventually bring a combined private sector investment of £745 million delivering almost 10,000 jobs, 600 homes and 300,000 sqm of employment space.

Chancellor Philip Hammond will unveil which projects have been successful in his autumn statement next month.


Develop a five-year plan for our seafronts which includes economic, structural and leisure visions for the future

Brighton and Hove City Council has just completed its Seafront Investment Plan 2016-2021 which gives a clear vision for the main projects that the authority hopes will be completed within this timeframe.

A newly established group of seafront stakeholders has also been set-up and has so far met three times.

It builds on the Seafront Scrutiny report in 2012 which called for an investment plan to support longer term objectives.

Now the hard work will come in turning those fine words into bricks and mortar.

Vigorously preserve natural habitats, beaches and green spaces 

The current strategy for the defence of the Brighton and Hove coastline to maintain the currently defended line could be expanded in the future for major flood defence schemes to reduce the risk of erosion and flooding from large waves crashing over existing defences.

Work is already underway on the £25 million Shoreham Adur Tidal Walls but improvements to the lock gates at Shoreham are also recommended to reduce flood risk.

The city’s green spaces including its much loved parks cannot be maintained under ongoing budget cuts with the council reaching out to volunteers to help keep standards up.

Residents have voiced fears in The Argus about Preston Park and proposed car park charging at Stanmer so parks remain a huge worry in Brighton and Hove.

Promote strong political leadership and cross-party co-operation across the region

The city’s political leadership prefers to make its voice heard as part of the choir believing the many are louder than the one.

That means channelling lobbying through The Greater Brighton Economic Board and the Local Government Association.

The risk is that voice is not as prominent or impactful than better known leaders such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan and potential Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Sussex has also lost a good friend in local government minister Greg Clark, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, while coastal minister Mark Francois, who has visited the Madeira Terrace, has also moved on.

Protect traditional seafront industries, tourism, ports and fishing but encourage new creative digital activity

The future of the county’s fishing industry is one of the many that is awaiting to see what Brexit really means, in particular over access to waters and quotas.

The ever fluctuating fortunes of Newhaven Port are on the rise with news in May that the French government subsidy will run for another four years for the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry while Shoreham Port is also set for major changes in upcoming years with major new housing and employment spaces. Plans are set to be outlined later this year.

Protect iconic landmarks and heritage but encourage fresh thinking that will transform our sight lines

The Seafront Investment Plan admits that the seafront’s heritage infrastructure is currently “at notable risk”, in particular the historic Madeira Terraces while it seems the city will have to say goodbye to the iconic West Pier in the next few years.

The council also admits there is not currently a plan in place for redevelopment of the arches that run eastwards from the i360 to the Brighton Palace Pier and support the A259.

Encourage a new range of private/ public partnerships to fund developments to ease the strain on the public purse

The city council's renewal of the seafront relies as much on the private and voluntary sector as it does on the council itself which no longer has sizeable coffers available.

Therefore it was a mixture of public and private money for the i360 which opened in August. A community interest company of volunteers that is leading on Saltdean Lido and a private partnership is bringing forward the £4.5 million Sea Lanes swimming pool.

Another private firm, Paramount Entertainment, has just secured planning consent for the Brighton Zip Wire where the Wheel once stood east of the pier. Volunteers are leading on the £1.65 million refurbishment of the Volk’s Railway and Standard Life Investments is working with the council on expanding Churchill Square and Black Rock.

The Seafront Investment Plan calls for more innovative funding and proposes that renovation of key sites could be financed by long-leases to third parties in exchange for investment commitments.

Support new bodies to bring cooperative and visionary proposals for the entire coastal region

The Seafront Investment Plan outlines that alternative structures should be considered to access additional funding for seafront redevelopment including the establishment of trust structures to handle council assets.

The model of independent trusts already operates with Brighton Dome and Festival Ltd and is being explored for the Royal Pavilion.

The benefits would be in taking these assets outside of public sector borrowing constraints as well as having the potential to encourage “more innovative approaches” to delivering projects and operations.

Make transport infrastructure a priority

Rail remains a major obstacle to getting visitors to our seaside towns and cities because of the ongoing industrial dispute while any hopes of a Brighton Main Line 2 feel low down on the Government’s priorities.

A27 expansion plans have come forward at Worthing, Arundel and, most immediately, at Chichester though there is significant public opposition which could limit or halt plans.

Proposals for a Coastal Transport System, a bus-based, rapid transit initiative from Brighton Marina to Shoreham Harbour and Worthing is included in the City Plan Part 1.

Improving transport to the proposed conference centre at Black Rock is considered key to that project as well as improving transport links between coastal attractions.

Work continues behind the scenes to develop the long-mooted park and ride scheme at Albourne.

Develop a powerful lobbying voice at Westminster to push our case for investment

The abject failure of the county’s rail network has united our MPs like nothing else.

The Conservative, Labour and Green MPs of Sussex continue to push hard for short and long-term improvements, now through a cross-party group formed in the summer.

MPs are also coming together over the A27 through another parliamentary group.

Involve all sections of our community in developing policies for Seafront 2020 

There is still a concern that Brighton and Hove City Council present a fait d'accompli for major projects. Redevelopment plans for the King Alfred Leisure Centre were kept under wraps for far too long. The same seems to be happening with the proposed Valley Gardens city centre transport scheme with selected people invited to view the scheme only in a bizarre new method of introducing massive city centre proposals.

Other visions exist for Madeira Terrace but only one vision looks set to be given serious consideration.

The establishment of a new seafront stakeholder group could help allay some of those concerns.


Timeline 2016

British Airways i360 completed; External works commenced at Saltdean Lido; Brighton zip wire approved; Shoreham Harbour Joint Area Action Plan (JAAP) adopted; Brighton’s West Street Shelter Hall works commence; Volk’s Railway works commence; First stage of Madeira Terrace funding application submitted.


Volk’s Railway works to be completed; Construction to be completed at the former West Street Shelter Hall; Brighton Waterfront proposals worked up in partnership with Standard Life Investments; Sea Lanes open water swimming facility works to commence; Saltdean Lido external works to be completed; King Alfred Leisure Centre works commence.


King Alfred Leisure Centre to be completed; Brighton Waterfront enabling works to commence; Brighton Marina developments to be completed.