A landmark lighthouse is to be transformed into a bed and breakfast - and may again be moved away from the crumbling cliffs.

The Belle Toute tower, near Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, was bought by newly-created company Belle Toute Lighthouse Company Ltd for £500,000 earlier this month, according to Land Registry documents.

The directors of the company are 69-year-old David Shaw and his wife Barbara Davison Shaw who live in Tenerife but are moving back to England.

In an interview with The Argus, Mr Shaw revealed he planned to turn the 176-year-old building into a B&B and tea shop for walkers.

He said he was investigating the costs of moving the lighthouse away from the cliffs as it could be threatened in as little as 20 years.

This would be the second time the landmark has been moved in ten years and would require planning permission from Eastbourne Borough Council.

He said: "It is a fantastic project - it is not every day the opportunity to buy a lighthouse comes up.

"I have had an interest in the area relatively recently and when I heard it was for sale, my ears pricked up.

"It has got a fantastic history and I want to restore it to something akin to its former glory.

"As a commercial investment it is not a very good idea but it has not dented my enthusiasm.

"Having spent a lot of money, it would be nice to think that it would have a shelf-life of a 100 years, so it is preserved for future generations."

Mr Shaw is chairman of a group of companies that run nursing homes and are involved in health care.

The building was last purchased amid controversy in 1996 when Eastbourne Borough Council sold it to the wife of one of its councillors.

Louise Roberts and her husband Mark bought the freehold for about £900 and paid about £200,000 for the leasehold for the site.

The sale was criticised by councillors who questioned if the council was allowed to sell the lighthouse, which was bequeathed to Eastbourne by one of its previous owners, Sir James Purves Stewart, in 1948. In 1999, the 850-tonne building had to be moved 17 metres back from the edge of the cliff after erosion threatened its survival.

The operation was overseen by engineers Abbey Pynford and cost £350,000.

In 2007, the Roberts family put the lighthouse up for sale with a guide price of £850,000 but this was knocked down to £595,000 in January, shortly before the winning offer was made.

In September last year, the Belle Toute Lighthouse Preservation Trust, which was set up to try to buy the lighthouse, was granted planning permission by the borough council to turn it into a bed and breakfast hotel.

The trust sought donations from the public to buy it and planned for it to be open to visitors and used as a location for community events.

Chairman Rob Wassell was "disappointed"

it was not the society that purchased the lighthouse but said the trust would now "keep a watchful interest in the lighthouse".