Brighton council agrees loan boost to i360 tower plan

Artist's impression of i360 Image copyright other
Image caption Council papers said project costs had risen to £46.2m by December last year

Plans to build a 600ft (183m) viewing platform on Brighton seafront have been given a cash boost after councillors agreed to lend £21.4m to the project, on top of the £14.8m already agreed.

The i360 tower was given planning consent in 2006, but a private backer withdrew £15m last year - the new loan means work could now start in June.

A council report said project costs were estimated at £38.8m in July 2012.

That rose to £46.2m by December 2013 because of inflation and fee increases.

The i360 is to be built by the team who created the London Eye.

'Economy boost'

Council leader Jason Kitcat said the council would take out a government loan for the scheme, from the Public Works Loans Board, and pass that on to developers.

He said the move would earn the council over £21m in interest payments and fees, which could be used to repair seafront arches, structures, sea defences and walls that are currently in need of £70m repairs.

A further £6m is to come from Marks Barfield, the architects behind the scheme, and £4m from the Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership.

The project was crucial for revitalising the city's tourism industry and seafront and would be a clear signal the city was open for business, he said.

The council has said the tower, near the ruined West Pier, is projected to earn three times more than it needs to cover its loan repayments, and if work starts this spring, the tower could open in June 2016.

Council papers said the tower would attract 700,000 to 750,000 visitors a year, including an increase in visitors to the city of 165,000 to 305,000, and would be a focal point around which other businesses could thrive.

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