It's pistols at dawn on Brighton seafront.

The cause of this ultimate confrontation? The tortured remains of the once glorious West Pier, filled with the acrid stench of droppings from a myriad of starlings that doss down in its shelter every night.

The protagonists? On the south side of the Kings Road are the St Modwen developers, displaying their weapons in the West Pier office.

On the north side, in the Granville Hotel, is the more lightly armed but equally aggressive Save Our Seafront Campaign. Their positions are well rehearsed and well reported.

Briefly, St Modwen is prepared to permanently destroy clear seafront views in pursuit of its holy grail, its so-called "enabling development" on which it claims the commercial future of the West Pier depends.

The SOS campaign insists there is no need to build any development above promenade level, compromising the sea view. It claims similar commercial space can be created below on the foreshore.

My heart and my brain tell me the SOS campaign has to be right.

We must resist the bullying, bamboozling tactics of St Modwen with its "last chance saloon" rhetoric.

There is still time for it to adjust its scheme once more and bring its proposals into line with the aspirations of most of us in the city.

My private soundings convince me a majority of people now believe destruction of the seafront vista is not only unacceptable but unnecessary.

But important as the outcome of that confrontation may be, an infinitely bigger seafront development is in the offing. We must be infinitely vigilant with this one.

I refer to the Kingswest complex and the adjacent Brighton Centre, arguably the two most dreadful buildings on the whole seafront.

There are several options, including a total redevelopment of the whole site to link up with the back of Churchill Square.

There is the cheaper choice of simply refurbishing the two monolithic slabs, or even resiting the conference centre elsewhere.

The first option of complete redevelopment is the most desirable. It could even include a seafront monorail transport system from the Marina with a branch line cutting through the new building to Brighton station.

It is a bold, exciting project and the city's chief executive David Panter has set his sights on 2008 for completion. I suspect he is a man with enough courage and determination to make it happen.

However, a report on a variety of schemes and costings will be put to the city council shortly.

SEEDA (the South East England Development Agency) recognises the importance of the conference centre and tourism to the local economy - so its influence will be a healthy way to bring public capital funding into the equation.

But there will have to be much innovative, creative thinking to fund a huge redevelopment such as this - likely to be the biggest ever to happen in the city.

I hope the council will be up to the challenge.