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Iconic seaside pier closed amid final attempt to sell landmark

PUBLISHED: 13:55 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:51 03 January 2020

The Claremont Pier in Lowestoft has been closed for January and put into temporary liquidation, ahead of a final deadline for offers of January 31. 

Picture: James Bass

The Claremont Pier in Lowestoft has been closed for January and put into temporary liquidation, ahead of a final deadline for offers of January 31. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2013

Lowestoft's iconic Claremont Pier is to be closed for a month and put into temporary liquidation - as its owner tries one final time to sell the historic Suffolk landmark.

Claremont Pier owner David Scott, pictured here at the site's music venue The Aquarium, said he had put his Claremont Pier owner David Scott, pictured here at the site's music venue The Aquarium, said he had put his "heart and soul" into the business. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

David Scott and his family have owned the 117-year-old pier - which boasts its own roller skating venue, a restaurant and a live music venue - for nearly 50 years.

Frustrated at the lack of investment in Lowestoft's seafront over the years, Mr Scott put the venue up for sale in April 2018 having "put my heart and soul into it" and saying: "You reach a stage of your life when you think you have done all you can and it is time to pass it on to someone else."

He had also tried to apply for cash to restore the sea end of the pier, originally built on wooden piles of pitch pine, to its former glory but missed out on funding - although the main part of the site has been extensively refurbished.

The pier, in Wellington Esplanade, has received substantial interest but offers made have fallen through at the last hurdle.

The Claremont Pier boasts a range of businesses including a restaurant, roller skating venue and cafe. Picture: Nick ButcherThe Claremont Pier boasts a range of businesses including a restaurant, roller skating venue and cafe. Picture: Nick Butcher

Now Mr Scott has shut the site for January and put Claremont Pier Ltd into temporary liquidation, after becoming concerned that he did not have sufficient funding to pay creditors.

Its asking price has been halved from £2.5million in 2018 to £1.25m today, with liquidators MHA Larking Gowen saying: "There are a number of people who have expressed interest in the pier at the value we're talking."

A deadline for final offers has been set for January 31 - which Andrew Kelsall, licensed insolvency practitioner at MHA Larking Gowen, said would enable any remaining bills to be paid and enough time for the new owner to get the Claremont ready for the summer season.

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Mr Kelsall stressed that the company Claremont Pier Ltd had "ceased trading for a short period of time purely as a protective measure".

Mr Scott, who has run the business on his own for about eight years after taking over from his father John and brother Paul, said market conditions had been difficult.

However, he is hopeful greater certainty around Brexit will give a new buyer more confidence.

"It's not like buying or selling a house," Mr Scott said.

The Aquarium is one of the businesses operating at the Claremont Pier. Picture: NICK BUTCHERThe Aquarium is one of the businesses operating at the Claremont Pier. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

"It's a unique marketplace, which is reflected in the price."

There are also hopes for more government funding for Lowestoft's seafront, with seaside areas able to bid from funding pots such as the Coastal Communities Fund and Coastal Revival Fund.

An advert by Fennel Chartered Surveyors in Halesworth, which is marketing the pier, said: "This represents a unique opportunity to acquire an extremely well maintained leisure investment on the popular South Beach of Lowestoft.

"It is hoped a new owner will extend the existing structure to its original 600ft length, complete with a T-shaped pier head to allows boats to dock."

David Scott and his family have owned the Claremont Pier since 1971. Picture: NICK BUTCHERDavid Scott and his family have owned the Claremont Pier since 1971. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Anyone interested in the pier should contact Fennel Chartered Surveyors on 01986 485001.

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