Plans had been halted initially following an objection by the Nobel Organisation, the owner of the Palace Pier, which was later dropped, then further stalled while planning and finance details were completed. But according to Brighton's local press, The Argus, the Department for Transport have now issued notices to enable work at the site on Brighton's West Pier.
i360's mast design will be able to carry 100 visitors at a time in a pod which will rise up the outside of the shaft to a height of 150m above sea level in the sea-city. This action of rising from the ground will offer visitors a gradually changing landscape out over Brighton, along the coast of the seven sisters and out to sea.
The Brighton West Pier Trust who own the land where the observation mast will stand are convinced by the idea. Chairman Glynn Jones said: "The question for the Trust has not been an easy one: how should we use our site to uphold the heritage of the Pier and promote regeneration of the city seafront?
"We believe the answer is Brighton i360 - it is elegant, slender and unobtrusive. It is brilliant because it will achieve maximum effect with minimum intervention. We believe it is entirely in the spirit of the Pier's history, and Eugenius Birch would have been delighted. The Trust is thrilled to have found in Marks Barfield and i360 the private sector partner and project which meet the aims of the Trust."
The mast's top point will stand 183m above sea level which is taller than the UK's other main observation towers, the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and the Spinnaker. The design will also feature the sustainability measure of wind turbines at the top end of the mast creating an estimated 20% of energy required to power the movement. The pod itself will be made of glass and steel and weigh around 60-tonns.
Marks Barfield are becoming the name in observation decks in the UK. They have also recently designed the Kew Tree Top Walkway & Rhizotron in Kew Gardens, London. The walkway takes visitors 18 metres into the trees allowing them to experience the rich bio-diversity of the tree canopy.
The walkway is a 200m long string of twelve modular walkway trusses at eighteen metres high, connected by ten circular ‘node’ platforms that provide opportunities for contemplation and interpretation in the form of one metre long cast bronze plaques. A larger, classroom-sized platform at the mid-point of the walkway provides space for school groups of up to 35, and a bench to enable visitors to rest and enjoy longer views towards the Palm House. Access to the walkway is gained by a main stair tower after exiting the Rhizotron; the tower also incorporates a single stage hydraulic lift with a glazed panoramic lift car.
David Marks, joint CEO of Marks Barfield explained the company's passion for viewing platforms: "Everyone loves a great view - it seems to be a universal desire to see the earth and its cities from exceedingly high places.
"Brighton i360 will gently raise people to a great height, safely, comfortably and conveniently, before gently bringing them down again, but with changed perceptions and a new perspective.
"In the past it was said that the West Pier allowed people to 'walk on water'. We hope that i360 will allow people to walk on air. This is a rare opportunity to create a landmark in the true sense of the word. We believe it will give people a new experience of Brighton enabling them to see the whole of the City for the first time and be a catalyst for regeneration in the immediate area."
There will be a consultation period before planning is sought but if granted it is thought the design and build of the i360 will take two years including 1 year on site.
Niki May Young