THE council plans to restore 30 of the dilapidated seafront arches – but still faces a multimillion pound shortfall.

Brighton and Hove City Council fundraised more than £450,000 in 2017 to restore three of the 151 historic Madeira Terrace arches on Madeira Drive which have fallen into disrepair.

But now the council intends to use the money as part of a £4.5 million scheme to restore 30 arches, although it does not yet have the cash to do so.

Councillor Alan Robins, chairman of the city’s tourism, development and culture committee, said: “What we need now is to turn the vision for a restored Madeira Terrace into reality.

“I’m keen that we have a practical plan that we can move forward with and that we make the best use of the money people have so generously donated.”

Last month, the council announced it was putting £2 million towards regeneration.

The total cost to restore all the arches to their former glory is estimated to be about £24 million. The first stage of the council’s new plans is to set aside £550,000 for “design and engineering” out of its own fund.

But in a report ahead of a council meeting next week, it was stated that despite committing to spending that money the council cannot currently afford to refurbish the arches.

And the council could revert back to the plan to restore three arches if more cash is not found.

Cllr Robins said: “This report allows us to find out the true cost of the first phase and do the work we have the funds for. Having an initial target of 30 and working out the actual costs will give us a much better chance to attract funding for the whole project.”

To bridge the cash shortfall, it plans to ask the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) for £1.5 million towards the scheme, despite its two previous lottery bids being rejected.

The report to the Tourism, Development and Culture Committee said: “An expression of interest was made to NLHF to restore 30 arches.

“The idea was to reduce the amount requested from NLHF to £1.5 million from an estimated total cost of £4.5 million to deliver 30 restored arches and attempt to give the council an increased chance of achieving funding from NLHF.”

In the council’s best case scenario, work will begin on the terraces in July, 2021.

Meanwhile, the terraces continue to deteriorate, as exposed in its recent structural report. Maintenance costs the council £155,000 a year.

The 2017 Madeira Terrace crowdfunding project set up by the council, backed by 2,095 people, promised to deliver the restoration of “three arches to their original condition”

It added the council would “cover any shortfalls if final works come in above cost”.

A council spokeswoman said: “We will be rebuilding the three arches funded by the public.

“We’ve set aside a £2 million fund but need to find out the true cost of this initial restoration.

“If we cannot do 30 arches, we will carry on and restore a smaller number.

“As well as lottery funding the council will be looking at other sources, including public sector borrowing paid for by future rents and further fundraising.”

The future of the Madeira Terrace is set to be discussed at a Tourism, Development and Culture Committee on June 20.