Suffolk

Shotley Pier: Finalisation of plans depends on inspector

Stormy seas Image copyright Sally Chicken
Image caption The 600ft-long structure, built in 1894, is deteriorating in storms that hit the estuary every winter

The appointment of a planning inspector is urgently needed to begin the next stage of restoration of a historic pier, a conservation group said.

The scheme to save Shotley Pier, Suffolk, was rejected after objections to the design of a proposed cafe.

Shotley Heritage Community Charitable Benefit Society (SHCCBS), the owner, has now decided on new designs.

But it needs to discuss these with an inspector and has been told it can take five months for an appointment.

The pier was built in 1894 and its narrow-gauge railway carried people, coal, building materials and other goods along its length for the ferry service across the estuary to Harwich.

It provided a transport terminal for HMS Ganges naval training base at Shotley Gate, and troops going to the western front in World War One also sailed from the pier.

Image copyright SHCCBS
Image caption A postcard from 1906 showing the narrow-gauge railway running along the pier to transport goods and people to and from the quay
Image copyright SHCCBS
Image caption Investors have expressed a preference for a gable end and pitched roof design for the new buildings

Babergh District Council, despite contributing £20,000 to the restoration scheme, turned down the original planning application "on grounds of non-compliance with local planning policies and an unacceptable impact... on the seafront at Shotley".

"An appeal has been lodged and we are now awaiting notification from the Planning Inspectorate," a council spokesman said.

"This is an independent central government function and we have absolutely no power over their timetable."

The inspectorate has 19 weeks to make an appointment, but this can be longer.

SHCCBS consulted investors and the local community and has won some backing for new designs for a workshop building and visitor centre at the land end of the pier.

Chairman John Davitt said: "There was a clear preference for a gabled pitched roof design."

Image copyright Empics
Image caption Shotley Pier was bought for £98,000 in 2017 after being derelict for 30 years

The final scheme is being put together but the restorers need to consult a planning inspector before a scheme is submitted for approval.

The group is concerned about the impact of the weather on the deteriorating structure.

Side rails have been removed after several fell in to the estuary when storms battered the pier.

Image copyright Sally Chicken
Image caption Side rails have been removed from the pier after some fell into the estuary between Shotley Gate and Harwich

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