Under the proposal, put forward in July, this would be matched by £9m from the sale of the Winter Gardens to Barratt for housing development. The rest of the money is expected to come from sources including the South West Regional Development Agency.
Stephen Godsall, director of leisure and tourism, said: "If the DCMS gives the go-ahead, we will have to produce a more detailed business case – we would go to the market early next year. If we don't get the go-ahead we've got two options: one is to go for a public–private partnership the other is to apply for PFI again."
Godsall said several contractors had contacted the council about the potential of a PPP.
Under any development the pavilion's stage would be made bigger and deeper. The swimming pool area, or the multistorey car park, would also be converted into 1200 m2 of additional conference space.
The council first pitched to the DCMS last year for funding for a £40m PFI scheme that was to have included the redevelopment of the town's pier, but this proposal was rejected.
The DCMS asked the council to come back with something less ambitious.