A leading seafront trader has issued a call to arms to the city to come up with innovative ways of raising the money required to restore the dilapidated Madeira Terraces.
Neil Sykes, secretary of the Brighton Seafront Traders Association, who also runs the Modern World Gallery on Madeira Drive, was responding to council leader Warren Morgan, who said yesterday raising money would be a huge struggle.
The pair are also set to meet along with other seafront traders to discuss the issue tomorrow.
Mr Morgan said: “The problem with the Terraces, as they stand right now, is that there is no way of generating income from them. That’s not to say it could never be done. As a listed structure any changes are problematic and would need the consent of English Heritage.
“Costs are estimated to be in the region of £20m to £30m for a like-for-like replacement. We’ve now established the structure is in such a poor state it will need completely rebuilding, and in the main is unsafe.
“It will need some imagination, innovation and flexibility to make the kind of investment in the terraces which might generate sufficient funds for the required work itself and future upkeep.
“We’re working on just such a proposal, and I’ll let you know about it as soon as I can.”
But Mr Sykes said that in the meantime, more could and should be done to raise the money, not from the structures themselves but from other avenues.
And he questioned the £30m price tag for repair which Mr Morgan said had been established by the latest survey.
Mr Sykes said: “What is needed right now is Mr Volks, a vision, even if just short term. Events along Madeira Drive could (and should) be stepped up to generate funding – gigs on the beach is one thought.
“We should be reversing the negatives on the drive by making it somewhere people wish to visit. The Hove Society is putting art sculptures on Hove Lawns while we have skips
“We should put in some council run facilities, a beach cafe, toilet facities, on on the whole of Madeira Drive, some quirky, rustic style picnic benches, all sponsored by local business leaders.
“The fencing that is supposedly going up should be designed to allow the Brighton artists to have their input, creating an attraction amongst the dilapidation for the cost of the paints only, and the cycle lane should be painted vibrant rainbow colours.
“But first and foremost the figures need proving.”
The terraces were first closed in December 2013, and more sections were cordoned off earlier this year while further surveys were carried out to some of the businesses, such as the Jag Gallery, Studio 864 and adjacent to Concorde2.
Brighton and Hove News revealed last Thursday that Jag had been asked to leave its premises, and the following day the council announced Studio 284 was also being asked to vacate.
It also said that work will also be carried out to stabilise the arches either side of Concorde 2, which will remain open. A structural inspection will also be undertaken of the Concorde 2 building.
To enable large audiences to queue more safely, a traffic order has been approved for a temporary road closure adjacent to the venue on Friday and Saturday nights.
The temporary fencing along the length of the terraces will be replaced with a more permanent anti-climb fence in the autumn/winter following the busy summer season.