AFTER waiting years for action on the burnt-out Bun Penny pub, two proposals for its future are now being considered. Councillors were told the owners of the former pub on Herne Bay seafront have submitted pre-application documents with details of a scheme they hope will bring the building back into use. And at the same meeting of the Herne Bay area members panel last Tuesday, Mike Greenwood of the newly formed Herne Bay Free School association, said he could use the building for the community.
Mr Greenwood, warden of the Free School, said:
“It is a town heritage site and it does hit you in the eye. If there is no current proposal for bringing It back into use for the town, not as a Tesco or a Next shop but for community benefit for societies and groups to use, I would be prepared to submit a draft outline proposal. I would think a quarter of a million pounds would be a ballpark figure to bring it back into serviceable use.”
He said it could be funded with lottery grants and managed by the Herne Bay Free School. Mr Greenwood added:
“We would use it as an activities and service delivery centre. If there is something already on the table I will take not one, not five, not ten but 20 steps backwards. We are not rivals. We have no interest in competing.”
Councillors were also presented with a 1,000-signature petition from Nigel Hancock of the Bay Independent Retailers Group calling for urgent action to be taken on the eyesore. He said:
“It has blighted the town for 30 months and during this time there has been rumour counter-rumour and misinformation. It is one of the top three complaints of members of the group because it is the first thing coach passengers see when they arrive in Herne Bay.”
Council regeneration manager Patrick Rynne said it had taken so long for any action to be taken because the building was privately owned and the council’s powers were limited. He said:
“The owners were in touch with us very actively until 12 or 14 months ago when they were in dispute with their insurers who have said, for whatever reason, they can’t settle the claim.”
“The owners said they could not do anything but members asked me to find out what can be done. We have now been in touch with the owners and talking with them and the owners have put in a pre application today for a scheme they want to do.”
The news was welcomed by councillors, who said the site was a key link between the seafront and the town. West Bay councillor Peter Lee said:
“I think it is important we retain some sort of commercial use such as a pub or a restaurant. I don’t want to see another faceless block of flats. That will not be of any benefit to Herne Bay’s seafront.”
The panel vowed to monitor progress with regular reports to their meetings. No further details of the owners’ plans for the Bun Penny were revealed.
Herne Bay Times, March 27th 2014