Shotley Pier renovation plans set for approval next week
A vision to restore Shotley Pier to its former glory is set to be decided next week – with proposals recommended to be given the go ahead despite community concerns.
The application seeks to restore the historic structure to its Victorian style, renovating walkways and providing two new buildings to be built on decking beside the pier – a visitor centre with cafe and a workshop facility for ongoing repairs and maintenance.
A community-led fundraising drive raised more than £135,000 to date, with the Shotley Pier Group purchasing the structure for £98,500.
Now, the formal plans submitted to Babergh District Council in March are set to go before the planning committee on Wednesday.
The report prepared by officers ahead of next week’s meeting said: “The principle of renovating the existing pier and bringing it back into an appropriate use is supported.
“The proposed volunteer and visitor centre is a community-led project that will offer combined opportunities for recreation, leisure and community facilities for the wider benefit of the area whilst also supporting the on-going repair and maintenance of the pier structure itself, which is an established feature within the landscape.”
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However, while there is widespread support for the principle of restoring the pier, concerns have been raised over the extent of creating two new buildings.
Derek Davis, Babergh councillor for the area, pier shareholder and local business promoter, said: “The vast majority of people I speak to are dead against this.
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“The whole idea is for the pier to be restored. It’s 123 years of history, and really to be used for people to walk along, maybe do a bit of fishing off the end and enjoy the view.
“What’s being proposed are two large buildings which are unnecessary and just conflicts with everything in the community.”
He added: “The vast majority want to see it restored as a pier but don’t want to see two large buildings on it.”
The plans received 38 objections from members of the public.
Sally Chicken, vice-chairman of the group, said: “There has been a few local objections which has been a bit distressing.
“We are trying to do the right thing by the community.
“We are very hopeful we will get it [approval] and in our view it will increase tourism here.
“The objectors think it will take away business but we know more people are coming across from Harwich and elsewhere, so we think it will put Shotley on the map.”
Councillor Margaret Maybury, Babergh District Council cabinet member for communities, said: “The community has already put a huge amount of effort into preserving and renewing Shotley Pier, and we at Babergh are proud to have supported the Shotley Heritage society.
“The potential to turn this part of our history into a place of which today’s community can be proud makes the future of the pier something we all have a stake in.
“We know just how important it is that we get this right, and when the application is considered by our planning committee next week I know the committee will look at the plans in detail and judge the proposal on its merits.”