Stakeholders get behind new vision for Shotley Pier
- Credit: JOHN BOWEN
A new design for Shotley Pier has been warmly received by the majority of stakeholders present at a key summit, following tension over the future of the tourist attraction.
Members of the Shotley Heritage Community Charitable Benefit Society bought the pier in February 2018 and submitted a planning application to Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils.
The plans included two 15ft high buildings, complete with workshop and 84-seat cafe – but the steep cost and modern designs put off some councillors on the planning committee and the application was denied.
The Benefit Society directors have since launched an appeal against the decision, but this has been challenged by many stakeholders who believe a fresh proposal is the best way forward.
An alternative design, proposed at the society’s annual general meeting on Friday night, was warmly received by the majority of stakeholders present.
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Inspired by the maritime heritage of the area, the design features smaller buildings and draws on the pier’s Victorian roots.
Babergh district councillor and stakeholder Derek Davis, who supports the new proposal, said: “It was quite a positive meeting. I think the new plans went down well with most people.
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“Obviously people will make their own minds up and there probably will be some that will prefer something smaller, but I think it is a good compromise.
“I think it goes a long way in answering the problems that came before. If the application were to be put in, I think it has got a good chance of going through.”
It comes after nearly 300 people, including many stakeholders, signed a petition calling for the Benefit Society directors to drop their appeal against the decision made by the planning committee.
Addressing the meeting, designer John Bowen said: “Carrying on with the appeal is a lose, lose situation. You will have egg on your faces if you lose, and even if you win, you will not carry the support of shareholders and other stakeholders.”
The first AGM was attended by 78 out of 530 community stakeholders, with many messages of support sent by those who could not attend.
Due to the warm response from those present, chairman John Davitt told the meeting the concept would be worked on and advice taken.
The next step will be to consult among the remaining community shareholders while the original planning appeal progresses.
Mr Davitt said: “We hold frequent shareholder meetings, which we welcome as our chance to be transparent and get feedback from our members.
“We told members at our September meeting that we would start consulting about amending our planning application, and the sharing of ideas since then has resulted in tonight’s presentation by Barrie Powell on behalf of the board.”
Mr Davis added: “It has been a divisive issue within the community. Hopefully we’ll get it done before Brexit.”