Councillors are being asked to agree new terms for a loan made to the i360. A report prepared for the next Policy and Resources committee on 12 May 2022 details proposals that aim to get the council’s loan repaid as quickly as possible while giving the business a sustainable future.
The i360 is one of the city’s most visited paid-for attractions and has helped raise the profile of Brighton & Hove’s visitor offer nationally and internationally.
The attraction has been a catalyst for regeneration on the seafront and provided economic and community benefit for the city as a whole. Since its opening in 2017, it is estimated to have contributed well over £89 million to the local economy.
Loan restructure proposals
Figures used to determine the new proposal are based on the latest forecast for the attraction. Members of the committee will also be asked to restructure a £4.060m Growing Places Fund loan made to the i360 by Coast to Capital LEP that has now been transferred to the council.
The transfer was made at no cost and repayments that are collected will be treated as additional receipts.
The principles of a loan restructure were agreed by members in December 2019, but the Covid-19 Pandemic struck before the restructure could be enacted. The proposed restructure means that the council would take nearly all profits that the i360 makes.
The report sets out minimum payments that would see the loans repaid over 25 years. But there is potential for them to be paid sooner if the attraction performs well.
A positive outcome for the attraction and the city
Despite the effects of the pandemic and environment for visitor attractions being uncertain, recent reports say the i360 is recovering well and is developing a credible 5-year business plan.
Once enacted, providing the i360 can perform to levels set out in their business plan the restructure would ensure the following:
- All money lent to the i360 would be repaid in full, with no money written off. This includes previously deferred payments.
- All council interest and finance costs would be more than covered in full.
- The repayment of the LEP loan would offer an additional financial receipt to the council.
- The i360 will remain a solvent and viable business, contributing to the city’s economy.
Commercial financial advisors have tested several options for the restructure, including different interest rates and assumptions about the profitability of the i360. The restructure proposed is considered to offer the best outcome.
Contributing to the city's visitor economy
A council spokesperson says: “The i360 has proved to be a popular visitor attraction and contributes to the city’s year-round visitor economy.
“It has brought with it a number of benefits to what is now a vastly improved and regenerated part of the city’s central seafront.
“The loan restructure is designed to improve the stability of the i360 so it may succeed into the future, as an employer and an important part of the city’s tourism offer”.