Brighton Pier sold for £18m to ex-Pizza Express boss

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionBrighton Pier, which cost £27,000 to build, opened in 1899

One of the south coast's most famous landmarks, Brighton Pier, is being sold for £18m.

Eclectic Bar Group, chaired by former Pizza Express entrepreneur Luke Johnson, is set to buy the Grade II* listed structure.

The group has entered into a conditional agreement to buy Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company.

Brighton pier was put up for sale in 2011, but withdrawn the following year by owner the Noble Group.

image captionLuke Johnson made his reputation in business when he expanded Pizza Express

Mr Johnson, a former chairman of Channel 4, said Brighton Pier, also known as the Palace Pier, was one of the most instantly recognisable attractions in the UK.

"The pier is hugely popular with the British public and it occupies a special place as a landmark at the heart of Brighton," he said.

"Brighton is one of the UK's most popular visitor destinations, with over 10 million visitors per year, making it the most visited place in the South East."

Brighton Marine Palace and Pier, which cost £27,000 to build, opened in 1899 and replaced the old chain pier, dating from 1823, which was used as a landing stage for passenger ships from Dieppe.

image copyrightPA/Gareth Fuller
image captionThe remains of Brighton's West Pier are a shell off the beach

Brighton's Grade I listed West Pier is now a twisted shell after being destroyed by fires and storms.

Other remains of the West Pier were removed from the beach to make way for the 530ft (162m) i360 tower attraction, due to open to visitors this summer.

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