Restoration plans for Brighton's West Pier have collapsed with the loss of up to £19m in lottery funding.
Fire tore through the pier twice in 2003, leaving a metal skeleton
After discussions with the West Pier Trust on Wednesday, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced no more money would be released to the project.
Brighton council said a "miracle" would be needed to turn the derelict pier into a tourist attraction.
The overall cost of restoring the 135-year-old Victorian landmark would have been £40m.
Too many risks
The West Pier Trust, which owns the structure, had been hoping to receive between £12.6m and £19m to help pay towards the restoration scheme.
Matching funding was expected from the private sector.
But the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) board said on Wednesday it felt the scheme carried too many financial risks and no more money would be released.
The pier closed in 1975 and the structure was reduced to a metal skeleton last year by storms and two fires, in March and May.
But in December English Heritage gave its approval for the pier's multi-million pound refurbishment.
Liz Forgan, chairman of the HLF, said: "We have been long-time supporters of the campaign to save Brighton's West Pier and have done everything in our power to keep the faith over the years that a solution was possible.
"However there is no guarantee that costs won't continue to escalate and the trust has made it clear that they have no other funding options but the HLF.
The West Pier had already been damaged by storms last winter
"This means that the risks and costs involved are now just too big for us to bear."
Geoff Lockwood, chairman of the West Pier Trust, said he felt betrayed by the HLF.
Mr Lockwood said: "We have been taken totally by surprise by this, given that only a month ago English Heritage described the West Pier as the most important pier in the world and capable of being saved.
"We are not conceding yet - we will be seeking a further round of talks with the council and English Heritage before anything else is done."
Mr Lockwood said it would cost at least £2m to demolish the pier.
Its listed status would need to be reduced before any such demolition could take place.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader, Cllr Ken Bodfish, said: "Short of a miracle this looks like the end of the pier.
Ambitious plans had been drawn up for the West Pier's restoration
"If so, it's a sad day for the city and the people who have dedicated much of their lives to getting the pier restored.
"It seems to us that it is now inconceivable that another developer could get involved, spend several years on a new plan, make a new grant application and secure funding.
"It looks likely we will be investigating how the wreckage is cleared and who pays for it, as well as how we now regenerate that part of the seafront."
A director of the city's other pier, Brighton Pier, said he had "deep sympathy" for those who had worked to restore the structure.
But David Biesterfield insisted the HLF had
made the right decision as the grant would have been a large amount of public money being used to fund an area for commercial use.
Mr Biesterfield admitted the decision would be good for his company's business.