The open-air top floors of a multi-storey car park are not the most obvious choice for a black-tie dinner or an office Christmas party.

But throw in a marquee, some decorations, music and dancing, and Brighton businessmen Chris Cresswell and Gary Worley reckon it could become a top venue.

Eyebrows were raised when the pair applied for a public entertainment licence for levels eight and nine of the car park at Brighton Marina.

They have asked Brighton and Hove City Council to licence the top floors for music and dancing from noon to 2am between November 25 and December 23 this year.

The idea is to create a huge entertainment arena using a marquee similar to one by the Thames at Battersea, south-west London.

A temporary escalator could be installed on the outside to take guests to the top floors.

It could be used for events including black-tie charity balls, office parties, live music concerts and discos.

Property developer Mr Cresswell and businessman Mr Worley both have experience of organising corporate events.

Mr Worley said: "We want to host corporate Christmas lunches and events.

"This will culminate in a series of charity-led events including a Brighton and Hove City Ball extravaganza.

"This will be lavish, vibrant and spectacular enough to rival any leading European city.

"Our aim is to provide an extra dimension to the black-tie season, bringing fundamental wintertime commerce to the marina."

He added: "There are very few large function areas in Brighton.

"All the best function rooms at the top hotels are booked months, sometimes a year, in advance.

"We believe by turning the top of the marina car park into a winter wonderland we shall give the city an extra venue.

"It is too early to say in detail what we are planning. Some of the events planned could be black-tie with tickets costing £100.

"Others, such as lunches, will be cheaper.

"Similar events have been very successful in London and we want to bring that success to Brighton."

The marina has already hosted successful events under canvas, including the launch of the Walk of Fame in October 2002.

Nick Scott, associate director of Parkridge Developments, which owns the leisure properties at the Marina, said: "We are in negotiation with businessmen who want to hire the top of the car park for a series of events, including corporate balls, and these continue.

"We are keen on encouraging any events which raise the profile of the marina and bring people to the facilities.

"The people we are talking with have experience of similar events in London."

It is thought using the top two levels would not have a great impact on parking because most vehicles use the lower floors.

Wednesday April 07, 2004