New plan to save Brighton's West Pier

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The Independent Online

A blackened, windswept wreck, it pokes up out of the water's edge on the seafront. But now there are hopes that a new pier can rise up from the ashes of Brighton's West Pier.

A blackened, windswept wreck, it pokes up out of the water's edge on the seafront. But now there are hopes that a new pier can rise up from the ashes of Brighton's West Pier.

The trust that owns the pier has announced it is seeking private capital to redevelop the site as a major tourist and entertainment venue. Later this week it is meeting Brighton and Hove Council to seek backing for the project, which could cost at least £45m. If successful, a prospectus for possible developers will be drawn up.

Rachel Clark, general manager of the trust, which owns the Grade I-listed pier and has many of the original fixtures, kiosks and other artefacts in storage, said: "At the moment this is a very embryonic plan, but we are convinced it would work. It is a far too important site and pier to let it simply disappear into the water.''

Any redevelopment plan is likely to include a concert hall or auditorium at the seaward end. An earlier plan for a leisure complex, drew complaints from residents that it affected the historic sea front, but Ms Clark said any new plan would have to be of sufficient size to be commercially viable.

The plan to use private-sector money follows the withdrawal last year of a promised £19m of National Lottery cash on the ground that the trust's £40m scheme to renovate the pier was not viable.

The pier, built in 1866 to a design by architect Eugenius Birch, fell into disrepair in the 1970s following its closure. The building was severely damaged by fire in the spring of 2003.

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