Consultants report on pier's future
Consultants have concluded there is the potential to develop Herne Bay pier into a major attraction that could help regenerate the town as a thriving seaside resort. However, their report makes it clear that there is no prospect of attracting sufficient public or private funding, in the foreseeable future, to restore the full three-quarter-mile long pier.
The report, by specialist leisure consultancy firm PMP, says it may be possible to extend the existing pier for a short distance and introduce new commercial leisure facilities to provide an all-year attraction. PMP found a strong level of commercial interest in developing the pier, but said the income from the private sector needs to be offset against the high costs of developing over water compared to land. They considered the most successful commercial use is likely to be restaurants, bars, a casino and family entertainment.
The report stresses that there will need to be considerable effort to secure external funding to achieve this form of redevelopment. It also highlights the need for a clear strategy for the regeneration of Herne Bay. A key part of this will be the future of the sports centre, which currently occupies the main pavilion on the pier. The consultants believe it cannot continue to provide the quality of facilities required in modern sports centres and say it will be essential to upgrade it, which could be more easily achieved on a new site within the town.
The study was commissioned earlier this year by Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council and Tourism South East. PMP's report will be presented to the city council's Executive in July when decisions will be taken on further study work into producing a regeneration action plan, relocating the sports centre and developing details of options for the pier. Canterbury City Council's Executive member for leisure, Cllr Roger Matthews, said:
"The city council's Executive will be able to use this report as the basis for a clear strategy for rebuilding Herne Bay pier as part of an overall regeneration action plan for the town. It may not be possible to achieve the full-length pier immediately, but we are very hopeful that we can provide residents and visitors with a major new facility. In the future, when the financial climate may be easier, I hope we can look to extending the pier progressively towards its former length."
Kent County Council's Cabinet member for regeneration, Alex King, said:
"We have been keen participants in this study from the outset. I am now looking forward to seeing how potential commercial development on the shorter pier can impact upon Herne Bay's prosperity within a wider regeneration programme for the town itself and provide a basis for further development in the future."
CCC website 29 June 2004
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