Eco-credentials of controversial seafront structure may be crucial
THE chairman of the Herne Bay Pier Trust says that proposals for a green-energy project could be the best chance the town has of ever seeing its pier restored to its former glory. The plans for a tidal lagoon, barrage and underwater turbines, revealed exclusively by the Times, would form the basis of a “green pier” while potentially earning £500,000 a year through the generation of hydropower. Doreen Stone said:
“We’re at such an early stage. We’re casting nets — some may catch fish, some may not. If you combined this plan with a long pier with a canopy and solar panels, this could be the greenest town in the South East.”
The plans, which it has been estimated could cost between £10 million and £15 million, have been put forward alongside a range of new design possibilities for the pier. Some of the most considered have been those of Herne Bay architect Tim Sanderson, who says he has long dreamt of helping enhance the site. Mrs Stone says the spread of interest in moving the pier into a new era could form an important part of the town’s current rejuvenation.
“This town does come together,” she said. “There is tremendous loyalty here and I’m sure many people would get behind this – they want their pier back at the length it used to be. If we could get an energy company to pay for a lot of it and we tied that in with EU and government funding, I think this could be our best bet for a building a new pier — we should go for it. You never know, it could even bring back those plans for a marina alongside it. There could be a real opportunity for employment and new training schemes. Perhaps we could get the engineering department of one of our local universities involved.”
It is perhaps an aspect of the saga of Herne Bay pier that is often overlooked. Why, after the demolition of the bulk of it in 1980 following severe storm damage, has it not proved possible to rebuild it to its former length? The frustration for Mrs Stone is clear:
“You walk down a Victorian street and you see the beautiful, decorative brickwork and ironwork. Stark simplicity is now the norm. Functional, utility structures with no extra wow factors — what I call the folderols of traditional seaside architecture.”
So will Herne Bay be getting a thrilling new pier any time soon?
“I like to have dreams, but I also like to back them up,”
Herne Bay Times, March 25th 2015