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Work begins on Brighton's i360 tower

The first phase of the construction of the i360 observation tower, to be located at Brighton's West Pier in south-east England, is underway.

Steelwork fabrication of the tower is currently in progress at a factory in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where a total of 660 tonnes of steel plate is currently being rolled into a 3.9-metre wide tube, which will form the 158m-high core of the tower.

The team building the tower will be largely the same that delivered the London Eye. The attraction has been designed by architects Marks & Barfield and the steel frame will be built by Netherlands-based companies SIF and Hollandia – the manufacturers responsible for the Eye's steel wheel, frame and legs.

French cable car company Poma, responsible for the 32 capsules on the London Eye, will build the doughnut-shaped capsule which will carry people to the top of the tower.

David Marks, i360's architect, said: "It has taken us a little longer than anticipated to start the work and we now expect to open in 2011."

The tower, which will be built on the site of the former West Pier, was originally planned to open in the summer of 2008.

When complete, the tower will be able to transport around 100 guests at a time in an enclosed pod to the height of 139m (500ft). The pod will offer seating and will be air conditioned in summer and heated in winter. Each ride is expected to last around 25 minutes.

The ‘root’ end of the West Pier, the section nearest to the promenade, will be removed while a single story glass heritage centre will be built on the lower esplanade, stretching from the beach front back to meet the Kings Road Arches. The i360 spire will be constructed in the middle of the heritage centre.

The project received full planning permission from Brighton Council in October 2006. A lease has been agreed with the West Pier Trust and a Section 106 Agreement has been signed with the council.

Councillor Ted Kemble, the cabinet member for major projects, said: “It’s great to see work on this project actually starting over in Holland. This is a good display of confidence in the future of the i360 itself and Brighton & Hove as a destination.

"The news should give a lift to the city and regional economy. This is exactly the kind of project the Government should be encouraging the banks to support.

"This is perhaps a less complex scheme than other major projects which are tied to adjacent residential property developments for their funding. But it’s a major boost to get this underway against such a difficult economic background.”

The first phase of the construction of the i360 observation tower, to be located at Brighton's West Pier in south-east England, is underway. Steelwork fabrication of the tower is currently in progress at a factory in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where a total of 660 tonnes of steel plate is currently being rolled into a 3.9-metre wide tube, which will form the 158m-high core of the tower. The team building the
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