Lowestoft pier demolition warning
- Credit: James Bass
Hopes that Lowestoft's Claremont Pier could be restored to its former glory rest on a final plea for grant aid, its owner revealed this week.
David Scott needs to raise up to £1.5m to restore the 40m seaward section of the pier, which has fallen into disrepair and has been closed for several years amid safety fears.
But if the appeal for funding fails, Mr Scott said he would have no other option but to knock it down.
Mr Scott is planning to apply for a number of grants this year, including from the Regional Growth Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, but after up to 15 years of trying to secure financial support he accepts he may finally have to eventually accept defeat and reluctantly demolish about half the pier towards the end of next year.
The profitable landward end of the structure, which is also 40m long and includes a roller skating rink, nightclub, amusements, bar and restaurant, would be unaffected.
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Mr Scott said: 'It is a very nostalgic and romantic notion for a pier to be done up and refurbished, but the harsh reality is you need people on there to buy things. You can't get the money back in fishing rods and sun loungers.'
Mr Scott, whose family has owned the pier for 41 years, is continuing to invest in the pier and is currently building an 850-capacity music venue, which is expected to open in November.
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He said a significant sum had already been spent improving the facilities at the landward end of the 111-year-old pier, which was the profitable part of the business. However, he has also begun making inquiries about demolishing the structure.
Mr Scott said he had hoped to replace the T-piece at the end of the pier to start running steam boat trips from Lowestoft to Southwold, and he also wanted to develop the seaward end with a museum and shops in a move that he says would create new jobs and help regenerate Lowestoft.
Members of The National Piers Society (NPS) visited Claremont Pier earlier this year. Anthony Wills, from the NPS, praised Mr Scott for his enthusiasm and investment so far and called on people in Lowestoft to support the pier and lobby for it to be restored.
Waveney MP Peter Aldous said the pier was important to the local economy and said he was planning to meet Mr Scott in the next few weeks to explore funding options.
The Claremont Pier was constructed in 1902 and was used as a landing stage for Belle steamers. An extensive restoration plan was announced in 1988 but although the shoreward end amusements were renovated, the rest of the pier was not and the unsafe seaward end has remained closed.