'i360' West Pier Observation Tower and Heritage Centre
Plans for a major development on land adjacent to Brighton’s West Pier were submitted to the council on Monday 17 July 2006. Additional information was submitted on Friday 8 September 2006.
Planning permission and Listed Building Consent for both applications was granted at the Planning Applications Sub-Committee on 11 October 2006, subject to approval by the Government Office for the South East.
All of the plans, drawings and other supporting documents, including the additional information submitted, can be viewed on the council's website by entering the application numbers (BH2006/02369 and BH2006/02372) on the online planning register or at the council's customer service centres at Hove Town Hall in Norton Road or Bartholomew House in Bartholomew Square, Brighton.
The scheme, known as the 'i360' was submitted by Marks Barfield, the creators of the extremely successful 'London Eye'. For more information on the i360 and the applicants you can visit their i360 website.
The officer's report [PDF 912K] is available to view in the Planning Applications Sub-Committee page in the 'Councillors and Committees' section.
The council’s planning officer for these applications is Paul Vidler (01273) 292 192.
i360 project - your questions, our answers
The council recently bid for £3m from the government's national Growing Places Fund which is available to help get infrastructure and housing projects off the ground. On Monday 30 April 2012 we secured the funding but there is still more needed to get this project off the ground.
What are the figures for the project now looking like?
The project needs to raise about £35m. It has £18m from various investors so far. The government have just offered to lend £3m. Now the council is proposing to borrow the remaining £14m and lend it on to the project at no cost to the local council tax payer.
If this money is available why spend it on a viewing tower and not other public services or other proposed projects?
In short, you can only borrow if the project generates sufficient income to at least repay the loan plus interest. The government’s strict guidelines mean we can only borrow to help commercial projects that make enough profit to more than cover these costs. Public services rarely meet these guidelines as they do not generate large amounts of income. No other major project in the pipeline is this far advanced – with full planning permission and half its funding in place.
What’s in it for the city?
The i360 will attract an estimated 800,000 visitors a year, boosting the local economy by £5m annually. The council will get one per cent of ticket sales using the revenue to complete the seafront regeneration in that area, enabling the council to rent out more seafront arches to businesses. It will benefit Preston Street and is expected to lead to more businesses setting up nearby. It will create over 150 jobs directly and over 400 spin-off jobs elsewhere.
What happens if the project fails? Are taxpayers left with a £14m bill?
Every business investment contains an element of risk – and there is a low risk with this one. Market economies such as ours are founded on risk. However, in deciding whether on not to pursue this option, the council will want to satisfy itself the risk is minimal and have first call on the assets if anything goes wrong. Bear in mind the investors signed up so far all think it’s viable – so does the government. And anyone lending to the council will need to be happy it’s viable too.
Who does the council borrow from?
As of early May 2012 it is still to be established but we’d typically go to banks or the Public Works Loans Board.
What’s the timescale.
Cabinet on 10 May 2012 authorised officers to investigate these funding options and the council's Policy & Resources Committee made the decision on 12 July 2012 to give the go ahead to the proposal. Once a financial close is announced (which is expected before the end of this year), building will start within three months and be completed by June 2015.
You can view the Policy & Resources Report here: i360 Loan Agreement [PDF 4MB]
For further information on non-planning related aspects of this project, please contact:
Major Projects & Regeneration
Tel: (01273) 29-2553