Campaigners have unveiled plans to extend the pier and build a new pavilion. Members of Herne Bay Pier Trust revealed details of the scheme – the brainchild of graphic designer Dave Parish – ahead of a crucial council meeting to debate the pier's future after council officers claimed the lack of a clear plan for the site meant that "difficult decisions" would have to be made.
In a six-page report due to be discussed by the council's ruling executive on 2nd Feb, council officer Dawn Hudd raised a number of issues. She said:
"Communications with the trust have been contradictory and we are now at a point where difficult decisions need to be made about any programme of activity this year. A clear understanding needs to be obtained of any planning limitations for the site. Given the Pier Trust's lack of experience and its own admission about its capacity… significant input from council officers will be required."
But pier bosses hit back, and said they were reviewing several options, including a row of beach hut-type stalls, a cafe, a local-information stall and an area for angling. They hope to attract private funding for their plans. Spokeswoman Doreen Stone said:
"We have been working hard for the future of the pier through our two appointed councillor trustees, Andrew Cook and Joe Howes. The trust sent its business plan to the council before Christmas. We have agreed to present a final business plan in mid February. On the main platform, we have suggested a multi-purpose floor, which could be used for skating, musical events, comedy, dancing and live performances. A local designer has presented rough drafts of two domes to cover the activity areas and the trust is currently planning several events this summer."
Council officials have warned any events need to be planned urgently, as most will need a premises licence, which takes 56 days. Health and safety issues, planning limitations and how to get power and water to the pier platform also need to be considered.
Councillors will be told tonight that they have four options, including leaving the site empty and closed off once the pavilion is demolished in about six weeks' time, keeping full control of the pier and putting activities in place, or keeping control of the pier platform but helping the Pier Trust and other organisations to organise events.
They were expected to choose the last option, and request an additional £40,600 from Canterbury City Council on top of their current budget for the pier of £75,000. The increased budget will include £18,000 for insurance, £10,000 for gates, £5,000 for a tide gauge and £10,300 for navigation lights, as well as £20,000 contingency money.
Heron councillor Andrew Cook told the Times:
"The council and the Pier Trust are working very closely to ensure activities are put in place. We will be presenting those at the King's Hall business and community exhibition on March 21. Local designer David Parish has presented us with a exciting model of a Victorian building with modern elements as a possible cover for the pier platform, which is quite exposed.
We are looking at the feasibility and finances of putting something like this in place; if not this summer, then during phase two, possibly over a platform doubled in length. Realistically, the pier platform is likely to open for its first event to coincide with the Queen's Jubilee."
HB Times 3rd Feb 2012
Herne Bay Matters home page