Property group Marylebone Warwick Balfour is understood to have backed a last-ditch bid by ex-boxer Chris Eubank to save Brighton’s crumbling West Pier

John Regan, a local builder and Eubank’s business partner, said that MWB was “very keen” to back plans by City Partnership, a consortium fronted by Eubank, to rebuild the West Pier.

He added that MWB’s Malmaison subsidiary would run a proposed 80-bed hotel on the site. MWB was unavailable for comment.

It was feared last month that the pier, which has been closed to the public for nearly 30 years and has suffered a string of attacks from the weather and local arsonists, was doomed for demolition.

A consortium led by developer St Modwen had wanted £19m from the public purse to salvage the pier, but English Heritage issued a report stating that it would not recommend that public money be spent on the redevelopment.

St Modwen subsequently pulled out.

But Eubank and Regan, who have been trying to put forward alternative redevelopment proposals for a decade, have come up with a £23m scheme that they believe will require only £10m of public money.

This would involve reusing only 5% of the pier’s burned-out timber and twisted steel but salvaging some of the ornate columns.

It was lovely to meet Eubank, but we would not recommend the use of public money

Andrew Johnson, English Heritage

City Partnership’s scheme would include the hotel, a conference centre and between two and four restaurants.

The consortium would also tie the project in with broader regeneration plans for the town, such as the development of a monorail. Local architect Cassidy Edwards & Lomax is in talks with interested parties to develop a masterplan for the regeneration of the seaside resort.

Despite the advantages of the new proposals, EH regional director Andrew Johnson remained unconvinced.

He said: “It was lovely to meet Chris Eubank.

But we would not be able to recommend the use of public money.”

  • Kier subsidiary Henry Jones has won an £8m contract to build a 160-bed hotel in Bognor Regis. The hotel was designed by PEP Architects.