Apartment plans for town’s pier

Holidaymakers heading to Southwold could soon be taking up residence on the town's pier.

Holidaymakers heading to Southwold could soon be taking up residence on the town's pier.

Pier owners Stephen and Antonia Bournes have decided to convert the 1930s art deco building at the top of the pier into 12 holiday apartments, each with its own balcony or terrace overlooking the stunning coastline.

The couple came up with the idea after struggling to find good quality holiday accommodation during travels with their sons, William and Benedict, and hope the apartments will attract families to the town all year round.

The scheme, which is currently being considered by Waveney District Council, will see the existing building raised by 1m, allowing for two floors of housing above the amusement arcade, which will remain where it is.

And Mr Bournes says the £2.2m project, which has already pleased tourism bosses locally, could be the first of its kind in the country.

"I'm very excited about it," said Mr Bournes. "At the moment we have this nice new pier with a sad 1938 building at the top which needs a lot of repair. I was thinking of turning it into a restaurant because the views are fantastic, but we thought it would be such a great place to stay.

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"The apartments are aimed at the nice normal family. They will have a kitchen, washer/drier, DVD player, wireless internet access and space. As a parent holidaying with the kids you need space and any normal family needs to do at least one load of washing during the week.

"Also we are also looking to expand the kitchen between it and the café, which will allow us to use more fresh local produce."

Mr Bournes added that the plan was part of an ongoing strategy to get a year-round tourist season for the pier and Southwold.

He said: "To keep good quality staff you need to put them on a salary. Some of my staff are getting married, buying their own homes. They need a reliable income.

"At the moment the winter just takes everything we make in the summer, but the seaside can be just as tranquil and beautiful in the winter. There is no reason why people shouldn't come.

"Also I believe in less that 10 years with fuel prices, the cheap flights to Europe will end and people will holiday in the UK again. I think now is the time to invest in British seaside resorts."