West Pier revival is back on the agenda

From The Argus

The wrecked West Pier

Hopes to rebuild the wrecked West Pier could be revived after work began on a development brief.

The West Pier Trust has presented ideas to members and is looking to kick-start a public debate in the coming months over replacing the iconic structure.

The charitable trust responsible for the site is working towards the derelict pier’s revival and plans to publish a development planning brief in 2015.

Initial ideas presented to trust members offer the choice between a traditional promenade pier and a commercial complex.

Another option is to “do nothing” which the trust said must be seriously considered “however undesirable”.

A new pier could contribute to city housing with possible tourist apartments – but it was considered “unlikely” to make a significant contribution.

Members were told the design should reflect the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Brighton and Hove and act as an “alternative village hall for the city”.

Any plan would have to be approved by Brighton i360 Ltd and be in harmony with the tower.

The plans are not expected to attract any serious interest until after the i360 opens in 2016.

Trust chief executive Rachel Clarke said: “If there wasn’t an i360 no-one would be interested in building a new pier because it’s a derelict site with no footfall.

“But with the i360 it is suddenly a much more attractive prospect.

“It’s very early days but so far the feedback is the majority would like to see a new pier.”

As landlord of the site the trust will receive rental income and also a cut of gates from the viewing tower.

The trust must clear seabed wreckage of the old pier within two years of the tower opening at an expected cost of around £150,000.

It is also planning a heritage centre and recently applied for £40,000 match-fund lottery funding.

One developer poured scorn over the chances of the plans seeing the light of day. John Regan, managing director of consortium City Partnerships, which has previously tried to rebuild the pier, said: “The whole purpose of the i360 project was to deliver a new pier, everyone’s forgotten that.

“I’ve been trying to rebuild the pier for 20 years but I think it’s dead in the water.”