Monday, 15 February 2010

Council Begin Demolishing Pier for Absurd Tower Project

The West Pier, pictured on the title of this blog, is being demolished to make room for this...

The West Pier is beautiful. It is the home of about a million starlings. The now ridiculously named West Pier Trust are in charge of the project to knock it down so that a gigantic sightseeing tower can replace the derelict but atmospheric remains of the pier.

The history of this whole project is fishier than the English Channel. The West Pier Trust website says,

In 1998 the Trust was awarded £14.2m by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the restoration of the pier. Years of tortuous negotiation with the Heritage Lottery Fund with a series of private sector partners ensued against a background of sustained opposition from the owners of the Brighton Pier. Finally by 2003 all obstacles had been overcome and the Trust was on the brink of restoration. In March and May 2003 two devastating arson attacks destroyed the Pavilion and Concert Hall. The Heritage Lottery Fund decided in January 2004 to withdraw its grant. English Heritage withdrew its support for the restoration of the pier later that year.

In 2005 the Trust recognised that with no prospect of public funding the full restoration of the pier could not be achieved. Instead it settled on looking for a solution that would combine blending preservation of the heritage of the pier with the creation of heritage for the future. The objects of the Trust allow for a new feature provided that the Trust does its best to retain as much of the heritage as is practical and financially feasible. The i360 provides that perfect solution; its exquisite design and advanced technology are considered wholly appropriate for the site – a vertical pier.

The Trust believes that once the i360 is under construction there will be new interest in developing the pier itself. It would be a contemporary interpretation of the West Pier, like the i360, reflecting the high standards of design and advanced technology used by the designer of the pier, Eugenius Birch.

So, the West Pier Trust got £14.2m from the National Lottery, with which we can assume that they did absolutely nothing, other than perhaps pocket it. The grand old lady of Hove was then firebombed mysteriously and nobody was ever brought to book. A few years later the site is earmarked for a new development at a cost of God alone knows how much for an absurd sightseeing tower which will make Brighton look good only from a few hundred feet up in the air since it is only from on high that you can't see the poor, the homelessness and destitution of many. The construction period will be around 2 years with an estimated cost of £20m.

The Telegraph reports
that, 'the removal of the concert hall is a requirement of planning permission for a giant viewing tower called the i360 earmarked for the land end of the West Pier. It is designed by the architects responsible for the London Eye.'

£20m, eh? That's quite a whack of money to be spending on another Brighton tourist attraction. I wonder what the homeless of Brighton and Hove make of the idea...

UPDATE: This rant needs correcting. The actual main frame of the West Pier is staying put, it is just the wreck where the digger is situated that is going...

1 comment:

Physiocrat said...

Oh the scandal goes back a lot longer than 1996. It started in the mid-1970s when a certain Harold Poster offered to renovate it, subject to permssion to use the space as a casino. Brighton Council refused and Poster walked away to let it rot. The casino, I believe, ended up as an unsympathetic addition to the Metropole, a building by the Victorian architect Waterhouse and also then owned by Poster.

West Pier in 1975

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