Colwyn Bay's Victoria pier future under scrutiny

  • Published
Colwyn Bay pier
Image caption,
Basic renovation of the pier would cost an estimated £3.5m

The future for a dilapidated seaside pier is up for discussion in a closed-door meeting of Conwy council.

The Victoria Pier in Colwyn Bay was placed in the hands of bankruptcy trustees in 2008, and its condition has continued to deteriorate since then.

One option known to be on the table is a plan for the council to buy the pier, while another involves £3.5m respairs.

Documents obtained through a freedom of information request also appear to rule out demolishing the structure.

The pier has been at the centre of fierce debates both in the local community and at Conwy council since its owner Steve Hunt was made bankrupt in a row with the council over business rates and council tax.

On Thursday, the council's communities overview and scrutiny committee will discuss the future of the pier.

The pier is currently in the care of the bankruptcy trustees Royce, Peeling and Green Ltd (RPG).

Originally built in 1900, it was once a hub of Colwyn Bay's social life, hosting stars such as Morecambe and Wise, Ken Dodd, Harry Secombe, Motörhead, and Elvis Costello.

However, five years of work to restore it came to an end with Mr Hunt's bankruptcy order.

The latest discussions follow a series of reports and proposals considered by the council cabinet and a special committee set up to look into possible development of the pier.

Minutes of the meetings of the council's Colwyn Bay pier 'task and finish group' had been restricted from publication, but details were released following a freedom of information request by its previous owner.

Councillors have been told that demolition of the existing pier would cost just over £1m, while renovation to provide a "basic pier" for use a boardwalk could cost up to £3.5m.

The documents reveal that the committee outlined several options, three which the council cabinet said it favoured exploring:

  • Facilitating the purchase of the pier for a private or social enterprise
  • Purchasing the pier itself
  • A joint venture purchase with another body, at arms length from the council.

However, the cabinet ruled out demolishing the site, which is a Grade-II listed structure.

Despite the council cabinet's rejection of demolition, the pier's former owner, Mr Hunt is unconvinced.

"It's a complete farce. If you look at all the regeneration plans for Colwyn Bay - the pier is not there," he stated.

He said as far as he was concerned, the council would acquire the pier and "plans to demolish it".

RPG have gone on the record stating a preference to sell the structure to a body set up to save it, called the Victoria Pier Pressure Group.

Council documents suggest the site could fetch between £40,000-£140,000, a price reflected in an assessment stating the pier had only a scrap and salvage value.

Image caption,
The pier was a major tourist attraction for north Wales for much of the last century

The pressure group has put forward its own proposals to renovate the pier as part of a social enterprise project for Colwyn Bay.

As part of that bid, a preliminary approach has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in an attempt to raised funding.

Commenting on the council discussions, Conwy's acting corporate director Iwan Davies said: "In December 2010, the council's cabinet agreed that work should be done in looking at possible solutions and funding streams.

"A report will be going to Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 7 April, and then the Cabinet on 12 April."

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