Work is now due to start on the first, reduced phase of the Madeira Terrace next summer – with the hope it will be complete by summer 2026.
Brighton and Hove News revealed in September the council was considering scaling back the first phase from 40 arches to 28 to keep it in budget amidst spiralling costs.
Today, the council is issuing a tender for the restoration of 28 arches, and a new lift from Marine Parade to Madeira Drive, at a price tag of £11.6 million.
The restoration of the Madeira Lift, which has not worked since last year and has been fenced off since September, is not part of the first phase.
Councillor Julie Cattell, Lead Member for Major Projects, said: “I’m excited to announce that we are today issuing our invitation to tender for the restoration of Madeira Terraces, phase 1.
“Our vision is to restore the terrace as a place for local people and visitors to walk, to sit and to enjoy views out to sea.
“To bring back its historic function as a venue for major events, but with new facilities to support pop-ups and events on the upper and lower decks.
“And to re-green the Green Wall, building on the healthy plants we can retain from the current planting.
“These works could form the blueprint for future renovation phases, demonstrating that the terrace can be successfully restored within a budget.
“This first phase will see a significant investment of £11.6M. We hope it will be a catalyst for securing further funding.”
The invitation to tender issued today gives detailed requirements on how the repairs are to be carried out, including which materials must be used and what the finished work will look like.
Madeira Terrace was originally built as a covered promenade and viewing platform to attract tourists in the late 1800s. The Grade II* listed structure opened to the east of Royal Crescent in 1890 and was later extended to meet the Aquarium.
At more than half a mile, it is considered the longest cast iron structure in Britain.
In the past year the terrace has been prepared for phase 1 of the restoration. Assessments of the cast iron spandrels and balustrades, the foundations, and the soil conditions below the deck feeding the Green Wall have informed the detailed tender documents.
The council expects to receive responses in February 2024 and, subject to receiving satisfactory bids within the budget, will appoint the contractors in spring.
- As well as restoring 28 arches and bays, subject to acceptable bids we expect that Phase 1 will also include:
- A new lift – a key component for the scheme that will ensure access for all
- Full replacement of the upper deck with a waterproofed deck, infrastructure for canopies / shades and for pop-up events
- Painting with a system guaranteed to perform better in coastal conditions than traditional materials available to the Victorians
- Refacing and regreening the Green Wall where possible, although much of this will take time to recolonise as the current wall has been there for
150 years and is older than the Terrace itself
- A new staircase down from the deck next to Concorde 2 / Shelter Hall
- Reinstatement of the planted verges at Madeira Drive level
- A more pedestrian friendly layout in front of the Terrace, providing beach access for all, and
- Seating to the upper and lower decks encouraging people to sit and enjoy the views.
The new lift will provide 24-hour access and be capable of being used by all. It will take over from the out-of-date smaller lift at Shelter Hall which requires a person to be present to operate it.
That lift has been closed since a survey showed that the shaft needs major structural work and can no longer safely support the weight of the old lift. The cost of repairs needed was estimated to be at least £500,000 and could form part of a future phase of the renovation project.
Repairs to the Royal Crescent steps will also not now be part of the Phase 1 project but they will remain open.
Following the appointment of contractors in the spring work is expected to start on site in summer and last for 18 to 24 months.
If final contracts match the council’s current anticipated programme, it hopes that the first group of arches could be open to the public in summer 2026.