Popular pier attracts interest from buyers

AGENTS handling the sale of an iconic Suffolk attraction last night said they have received “multiple” inquiries.

Stephen and Antonia Bournes put Southwold Pier on the market earlier this month for �6million because they are unable to commit to a hotel extension to replace the existing pavilion.

The sale is being handled by Christie and Co and last night the company said they were very pleased with the amount of interest it had attracted.

Director Tim Gooding, who is based at the Ipswich office, said: “There has been multiple interest and we have seen a number of serious inquiries.

“Full sale particulars are being circulated this week and we shall see what else comes out of that. But so far the initial level of inquiries has been very pleasing.

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“The property performs extremely well and is also a very profitable business so in one respect I’m not surprised there’s been an interest.

“However, we are talking about a substantial sum of money and of course you don’t get deals of that level happening every day – particularly in the present financial climate.”

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Mr and Mrs Bournes decided to put the property on to the market because they could not commit to a planned multi-million-pound hotel extension.

Permission for a new 30-bedroom luxury hotel to replace the existing pavilion was given in December last year and the scheme was three years in the making.

It was originally due to cost between �2m and �3m but, with the project now estimated at �5m, it is no longer financially viable for the couple, who have two teenage sons.

Mr Bournes has previously said: “I’m very sad because it’s a fantastic project.

“We have taken the long-term view that we have two boys aged 13 and 15 and I would have to work flat out for 10 years to secure it.

“It is really important for everything to go ahead and we want someone to carry on with it.”

Members of the community have expressed their sadness at news of the sale but said they respected the decision of Mr and Mrs Bournes.

The pier is the second biggest employer in Southwold and has 45 full-time staff, which rises to 95 in the summer season.

Since taking the pier on in March 2005 the Bournes have transformed it into a thriving attraction, with gift shops, a restaurant, cafes and an arcade of alternative slot machines.

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