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Trust proposes economic vision for future of Herne Bay pier

It was the end of the pier show this week as wreckers finally moved in to start demolishing Herne Bay’s Pier Pavilion. But the big question now is: what will replace it?

Members of the town’s Pier Trust were given a glimpse into the future at its second annual meeting at Herne Bay Junior School. One of the few suggestions was a marina. Trust treasurer Jason Hollingsworth told the gathering of more
than 100 members:

“The original pier, almost a mile long, was built to
accommodate steamships. Any replacement must have an economic purpose
and be able to provide a long-term revenue stream for the future. A deep water marina is one possibility, but everything is being considered and nothing has been ruled out.”

But the marina idea held little water for businesswoman Carol
Chance. The health and safety consultant admitted:

“I am a little
disappointed, frankly. What’s the vision? I’m astounded that there are still only 400 members of the Trust.”

She rejected the idea of a marina saying the town could not accommodate larger yachts. Even city council leader John Gilbey admitted:

“Marinas are not
famous for making money. And you only have to stand on the end of the
current pier to see how shallow the water is. The pier trust is taking exactly the right, methodical approach for the future. We’ll see what happens.”

The meeting started with a slick video explaining the importance of the pier to the town. Regeneration of the pier is expected to come in two stages. The
first will be finding things for the “pier stub” which will be left
after the pavilion is knocked down. Heron Conservative councillor Joe Howes said:

“We could have dancing. The town is full of dance schools. We could also pitch a Big Top circus tent there with a Ferris wheel, helter-skelter and stage ‘birdman’ competitions. This could be a vintage, retro pier with a farmers’ market.”

The trust is still raising money to carry out another feasibility study and has £15,000 in the bank. Accountant Mr Hollingsworth stressed:

“We don’t want to present a half-baked cake and then have it collapse!”

Trustee and original founder Andy Newell said:

“There are a range
of funds available. We are hoping to get rent from the windfarm from
the Crown Estates. There are EU regeneration funds available. But first
we need a very clear business plan and that’s what we’re working on.”

thisiskent 19th Sep 2011

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