Brighton and Hove City Council signed the final contracts relating to the proposed i360 observation tower this afternoon (Thursday 19 June).
Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the council’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, announced the news at a meeting of the committee at Hove Town Hall.
He said: “This afternoon we reached financial close on the i360.
“The deal was signed and we start construction shortly.
“That’s a £36 million project that will deliver £1 million a year to the city.”
The West Pier Trust is working with London Eye architects Marks Barfield on the project
Recently work started to remove the old pier piling from the beach in readiness for construction work on the i360.
The council said: “The i360 will be a reality on Brighton’s seafront as loan agreements were signed by Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton i360 and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership today.”
Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “We are delighted to confirm our funding agreement with the Brighton i360.
“It will be a spectacular observation attraction and is the cornerstone to funding the regeneration of Brighton’s seafront, expected to draw over 700,000 additional tourists and up to £25 million revenue into the local economy annually as well as over £1 million to the council during the next two years of construction.
“Longer term the i360 will benefit the city through annual interest payments of over £1million as well as 1 per cent of ticket sales in perpetuity, as well as creating jobs and investment.”
David Marks, creator of the Brighton i360 and the London Eye, said: “We have the opportunity to create something truly unique and of international renown here on Brighton’s beautiful seafront and we look forward to opening the attraction in summer 2016.”
The council said that it was estimated that the i360 will generate more than 440 permanent jobs, including 169 at the attraction plus additional jobs from the spin-off benefits to other businesses in the city.
It said that many other attractions and hotels in the city were already enthusiastic about partnering with the i360.
Today the council signed contracts were signed by for a loan agreement of £36.2 million to Brighton i360 Ltd, which comes through the council from a government agency called the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).
The council said: “No council tax money is being used to fund this.
“The profit on the interest from the loan plus business rates will earn the council over £1 million per year at a time of public cuts. All this money will be reinvested in the city.
“Any additional monies generated by the project will be returned to the council to accelerate the loan repayment.
“The total project cost is £46.2 million, including interest, and architects David Marks and Julia Barfield are investing £6 million and have met all costs to date including the costs of getting planning permission.
“Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is making a seven-year loan of £4 million to the project.”
LEP chief executive Ron Crank said: “We immediately recognised the significance of ensuring this iconic project proceeds, enabling Brighton and Hove to remain at the forefront of the UK visitor economy.
“Our Growing Places Fund has been established to support such loan investments and guarantees the creation and sustainability of local jobs.”
West Pier Trust chairman Glynn Jones said: “The West Pier Trust is delighted that financial close has been reached and that work can now start apace on the construction of what will be a truly elegant and exciting addition to the city’s shop front, the seafront.
“The i360 is the result of the closest partnership working between the trust, Marks Barfield and the council and the local enterprise partnership who were courageous and had the foresight to invest in the project.
“The i360 will help ensure that the council’s vision for the seafront moves ahead. By working in collaboration we will bring to our city a world class attraction which will be a worthy successor in part to the former West Pier.
“By reaching agreement the city has once again continued the process of reinventing itself, demonstrating that is open for business and that it is at the leading edge of tourism for all age groups.”
The council added: “Work to remove the root end of the West Pier and columns on the beach to make way for the project is on track and due to be completed by the end of the month, though the much-loved sea island of the old West Pier will remain.
“It is expected that construction work will begin on the Brighton i360 in July.”
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