Recently £36 million of tax payers money was borrowed from the government to build the i360 tower but when do we expect this loan to be paid back?
Figures from Brighton and Hove City Council show they expect an average of 739 thousand visitors to the tower within the first year the attraction will be open.
With tickets for the attraction priced at £14 per adult, at best we are seeing £10.3 million being made within this first year.
However one percent of this ticket revenue for the attraction will be given to Brighton and Hove city council for community benefits, so this sees £103,460 of the £10.3 million being automatically taken away each year.
The government have predicted that they will make an annual profit of £13 million to £25 million but it seems they may be living in a dream world.
Children under 5 can visit the i360 for free along with every child at a Brighton and Hove state school who will also gain free entry once in their school life. Futhermore, teachers are expected to also gain free entry or get in at a heavily discounted price. That’s a lot of people already not paying to see the attraction. Local residents also get discount during off peak times but is this just a form of bribery as they may have to see their council tax go up? Or to compensate for the great inconveniences the tower will cause them. For example they may no longer be able to park outside their own house, there may be an increase in noise and litter in the area also.
Some of the income from the i360 is also being put towards the running of the West pier, again prolonging the loan pay back period. The council seem to be promising areas of the income from the tower before they are even starting to focus on paying back the loan.
Also we expect the Council to borrow even more money as time goes on. An important factor to consider that a private investor was willing to donate £15 million but suddenly pulled out of the project without leaving a reason. Which begs the question did they not have confidence in this project to be successful? A further £6 million has come from Marks Barfield (the architects for the project) and another £4 million from Coast to Capital local enterprise partnership. But no private investors seemed interested in the project.
Futhermore, the tower may start out as a mass tourist attraction in the first year but we could see the average number of visitors drop, again prolonging the loan being paid back.
The attraction will also be a very weather permitting money maker, at 175 metres high, if the weather is poor people will not be able to see anything, bad enough that the tower is placed next to a city where the pollution rate is high producing clouds of fog.
Visual constructions of the plans show how the tower will destroy the city’s skyline and look completely abnormal to all of its surrounding buildings.
The central picture shows how the new modern building looks alien to the old architecture of the city.
Construction of the tower is expected to begin in Spring 2015 with the grand opening expected to be in the summer of 2016.
500,000 kilowatts of electricity per hour will be used to power the tower. This so called, ‘environmentally friendly’ tower will only be receiving 35,000 killowatts of this from wind turbines.
The private architect company behind the operation, Marks Barfield is vague about where the rest of the electricity supply for the tower will be coming from. They claim that eventually the whole tower will be powered by renewable energy sources but they describe that as ‘a work in progress’.
Although it may bring more business to the city it might not make Brighton such a great place to live. Prices of nearby restaurants and shops are bound to go up as people will see this as a business opportunity this may increase the overall cost of living for people living in the local area near the i360.
Obviously the i360 will be in stiff competition with England’s most popular tourist attraction, the London eye.
Both have the ability to let people see up to 25 miles when visibility is clear, however the London eye has more exclusivity for its customers.
There are 32 capsules on the London eye allowing privacy and a more peaceful enclosed environment. The i360 just consists of one big capsule which holds only 200 people compared to the 800 the London eye is able to carry.
It’s clear a massive gamble has been taken with this project. The big question is will the amount of people estimated to visit the i360 be met whilst the London eye still exists? If not will we ever see the loan for the tower returned?
By Charlotte Scott