Shock as Shotley Pier regeneration as development plans turned down
PUBLISHED: 15:35 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:34 22 August 2018
Plans for the redevelopment of Shotley Pier have today been turned down by councillors following a heated 80-minute debate.
The development plans included a new visitors centre and a cafe, all run by volunteers, with promises to restore the landmark to its “former Victorian glory”.
But councillors from Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council could not agree that the scale of the development was appropriate for the town or landscape.
Their decision came following an 80-minute debate after council planning officers recommended approval of the proposals with some amendments in a 15-page report.
The decision has left pier shareholders and supporters disappointed and they are now considering lodging an appeal.
Sally Chicken, vice-chairman of Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society Ltd, said: “We’re very disappointed in the decision. There was clearly a lack of logic and the councillors couldn’t come up with clear reasons not to pass it.
“We’ve now lost the chance to bid for three major grants this year, one from the EU, and the ward councillor Derek Davis was aware of these.
“None of the councillors mentioned how lovely the views will be from the pier in all weathers - a view we’re committing to provide free access to for the public.”
“It just means wasting time on paperwork and appeals instead of restoring the pier.”
Shotley Sailing Club commodore Tom Clayton spoke to object to the development claiming the new pier would interfere with weekly dinghy racing from the club.
Opponent Shane Rolin, who is a shareholder in the pier and works at the Bristol Arms pub just 25 yards away, said: “I supported the last application in 2013 but a lot has changed in the last five years, the pub and nearby tea room have now reopened.
“Don’t use public money to fund something to compete with local business.”
Councillor David Busby, who opposed the plan, said: “So it seems that Babergh is open for business: as long as it is funded by European grants, run by volunteers and paid for by taxpayers.”
The cafe on the pier was estimated to have the capacity for 22 tables but only had permission to offer food and drink on a snacks basis rather than whole meals like nearby establishments.
The impact on the picturesque views in Shotley Gate was raised during the debate with opponents concerned about the visibility of the pier to and from the Suffolk Coast and Heaths, and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Although the proposed buildings are longer and wider than those proposed in 2013, they are the same height and are not thought to block any more of the view than previous plans.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency and Suffolk Coast & Heaths project had no objections to the development in the council officers’ report.
Councillor Michael Holt said: “Does the pier need the developments to be funded?
“Can it be restored to it’s former state without these new additions?
“I don’t know.”
Ms Chicken and other supporters of the regeneration are planning to appeal the council’s decision.