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Brighton West Pier concert hall cleared for tower

Contractors are removing the collapsed remains of Brighton’s ruined West Pier’s concert hall before a giant viewing tower can be built there.

The tower, called the i360, is earmarked for the land end of the West Pier and will elevate visitors to nearly 167m above sea level in a pod to enjoy panoramic views. No starting date for construction has been set, but the aim is to open it in time for the 2012 London Olympics.

Brighton & Hove City council leader Mary Mears said she was “looking forward to the i360 development bringing a new chapter of prosperity for the seafront”. The tower is designed by architects Marks Barfield which was responsible for the London Eye.

Clark said “some of the funding” for the project was in place, meaning a start date for construction had yet to be set, but it is hoped it will open by the 2012 London Olympics. Demolition workers are removing remnants of the fire and storm-ravaged concert hall, close to the shore, during low tides over the next fortnight.

The West Pier Trust, the charity which owns the pier known as the Grand Old Lady, said historical items will be salvaged for safe keeping but the landmark pavilion island will not be touched. Designed by Eugenius Birch, the West Pier was built in 1866 using dozens of cast iron threaded columns screwed into the seabed and strengthened by a lattice of ties and girders.

It evolved into a pleasure pier and throughout the 1920s featured attractions including paddle steamer excursions, high divers and plays, pantomimes and ballets. A storm caused a collapse of part of the concert hall in December 2002. Months later, arsonists targeted the pier - considered one of Britain’s finest structures of its kind - destroying the pavilion and concert hall.

The Heritage Lottery Fund withdrew regeneration funding after the damage, dashing hopes of restoring it to its prime.

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