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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 19:04 GMT
Derelict pier loses lottery money
The pier on fire
Fire tore through the pier twice in 2003, leaving a metal skeleton
Restoration plans for Brighton's West Pier have collapsed with the loss of up to 19m in lottery funding.

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.

It looks likely we will be investigating how the wreckage is cleared and who pays for it
Ken Bodfish, Brighton and Hove City Council

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 collapsed pier
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.

One design suggested for the restored 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.




SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Brighton's West Pier
19 Dec 03  |  Photo Gallery
West Pier revamp approved
19 Dec 03  |  Southern Counties
West Pier 'most important in world'
04 Nov 03  |  Southern Counties
Pier: past, present, future?
12 Jun 03  |  Photo Gallery
Uncertain future for West Pier
12 Jun 03  |  Southern Counties
Pier fires spark review of restoration
15 May 03  |  Southern Counties
In pictures: West Pier fire
28 Mar 03  |  Photo Gallery
West Pier destroyed by fire
28 Mar 03  |  England
Brighton's West Pier collapses
29 Dec 02  |  England


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