Protect Our Pier

A POP group is petitioning against plans to build a large scale commercial development on the pier at Shotley, opposite the Bristol Arms.The Protect Our Pier (POP) movement has called on   on the directors of Shotley Community Heritage Benefit Society Ltd to drop their appeal against Babergh District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a large-scale commercial development to build café, seating for 84 people, a workshop, offices and a visitor centre, on Shotley’s Victorian pier, and instead put in a new, smaller planning application designed to protect the future of our pier and focus on just restoring the pier, with small kiosks on the end to generate funds for the renovated pier’s maintenance and secure future.

The original intention of restoring the pier was so that generations to come could gently stroll down the pier enjoy the unspoilt view down the river Stour, with benches and Victorian style lighting, with angling off the far end. Restoring the pier with a couple of kiosks, would require far less funding than the £3million estimated for the large scale commercial development, which would obliterate a treasured view inside therecenly proposed AONB extension. The cafe etc would be in direct competition to local businesses, and also create car parking issues, and the harm would substantially outweigh whatever benefit claimed. 

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Community Calls For Smaller Development Plan

Tuesday, October 2, 09.00

A community movement has launched a petition after directors of a benefit society launched an appeal against Babergh's planning committee to refuse  permission to build a cafe with 84 seats, a visitors centre, workshop offices and toilets, straddling the Bristol pier, Shotley. 

Protect Our Pier group, an informal coalition of residents, businesses and visitors, want the directors of Shotley Community Heritage Benefit Society Ltd to apply for a smaller application and keep to the original concept of restoring the Vistorian pier to its former functional state, where people could wander down to enjoy the stunning views down the river Stour, and across the estuary towards Harwich and Felixstowe.

 A smaller application would mean planning permission being granted and satisfying potential grant funders, while healing the rift within the community.

Planners voted 7-6 to refuse Shotley Community Heritage Benefit Society Ltd's application build a 15ft high, 98ft long building alongsde one side of the pier and another 15ft high building on the other, on the grounds that the harm would outweigh any benefits.

Concerns were also aired at the lack of parking, with the pier having just seven regular spaces, and three disabled bays available, adopted by Suffolk Highways.

There are fears a busy day at the pier, on top of the current activities, would result  in disruption to residents up Bristol Hill, Estuary Road, and Caledonian Road.

The proposed cafe, run by volunteers and subsidised by grants and public money, would be in direct competition to Malcy's, a long established burger and tea van, The Tea on the Quay, the Bristol Arms and the Shipwreck.

Plans to book out the centre to local groups for activities could also impact on books at Shotley Village Hall.

 Safety issues have also been raised by Shotley Sailing Club, especially on their youth training days.

There are also concerns at the cost of the proposed development.

Peter Stabbings, a Benefit Society's director, told the planning committee the estimated cost of building what they want would be £2.7m, 'no more than £3million'. The directors claim the profits from the cafe, selling goods and hiring out the centre would be in the region of £15k - £20k a year.

While just restoring the pier to allow people to use on a daily basis, with kiosks to be used for raising funds to pay for the upkeep of a low maintenance pier and  smaller insurance premiums, would cost between £300k and £900,000k, according to Mr Stebbings.

Although a survey has been carried out by Suffolk specialists Underwater Survey Ltd paid for by Babergh District Council, that also gave the original steering group a £20,000 grant for seed money to get the project off the ground, Mr Stebbings claims another survey costing between £40,000 - £50,000 is needed to support the larger development.

More than 40 letters of objection were sent to the council, while only one was sent in support, these included people who bought shares in the project who felt the application goes against what they originally bought into.

Indeed, the opening paragraph on the Benefit Society's own website said: "This is your opportunity to become an integral part of buying, renovating and restoring, the 122-year-old Shotley Railway Pier."

No mention of a large scale development.

Three people used the three-minute slot to speak against the proposal, no-one (apart from the applicant) spoke in support despite being given an opportunity to do so.

Despite the society's claims that there was plenty of consultation before the application was made, Mr Stebbings admitted to the committee that even the directors were caught out by the actual plans and only put them in because they were up against deadlines from potential funders. No-one, apart from the directors, had an opportunity to comment on the plans before they were sent to Babergh, and the subsequent comments were overwhelmingly against the application.

 The pier looks down over an area protected by the RSPB, with thousands of migrating birds visiting the flats all year round. Conditions would be needed to protect wintering birds and mitigate the impact of disturbance in the RAMSAR site.

Bristol Pier was originally built by the Marquis of Bristol in 1894 to link Shotley with the Railway Hotel in Harwich. It was used to transport mail by dolly lines to waiting trucks to take to the sorting office. 

The nearby Admiralty Pier (pictured right) was built in 1910 and used by the Royal Navy's Training Establishment as trainees from HMS Ganges boys trained on cutters and whalers. There was a large boatyard and 40ft high boat shed next to the pier, and the area is being rejuvenated, which will allow the pier to be put back in use.

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Subsequent news articles...

Anger Over Pier Plan Voting

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Pier group directors have been accused of trying to deceive shareholders by asking them to tacitly vote for a plan that was not presented at the AGM, under the guise of choosing a roof design. 

A newsletter sent by the benefit society directors asked for pier group shareholders to vote for a new roof design, but failed to show the plan which had been voted on at the AGM.

Instead, a third plan was shown, which looks very similar to the original application, which was refused permission by Babergh district councillors and widely condemned by investors and the wider community.

Dozens supported, while only one person voted against, the popular Plan B (shown above)  put forward by Barrie Powell and John Bowen at the November meeting, with no mention of Plan C, based on the original, (shown below) used in the newsletter sent out in December.

There is concern shareholders voting for any of the roof designs, will be giving tacit support for Plan C, with the poplar Pan B being sidelined. 

 It is understood there is some disquiet even among directors at the way Plan C has been put forward, with concerns over the design, especially as the third option is not symmetrical, looks unbalanced, is still too large and out of scale.

There is also concern over the over-sized ramp access to the pier.

So much so it is understood Mr Powell considered resigning from the board, has continued to register his objection and a number of shareholders have subsequently aired their concerns that Plan B was being ignored.

 The design supported by shareholders at the AGM had plenty of room inside for seating and a visitor centre, and offered shelter, while the second building, which was the same size, offered space for a workshop and storage. 

The curved barrel roof profile of Plan B has been chosen over a pitched ‘Beach Hut’ or ridge type for six reasons:

  • Least visual intrusion
  • Reflecting barge hatch covers of the Victorian period
  • Better gale resistance
  • A more industrial look to reflect the heritage
  • A hint towards the roofs of railway waggons of the period
  • Single curved sheet material used for the roof cladding is cheaper and easier to use as it does not require the more expensive pitched and ridged construction.

 One shareholder, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions by the board, said: “The newsletter is very misleading. We feel shareholders should be shown Plan B and be allowed to vote on that in the newsletter, rather than just being given Plan C, which we fear is too similar to the original application and could well be refused.”

Founder member and Babergh District Councillor Derek Davis said: “I was very surprised when I saw the newslettter and there was no mention of Plan B and that was not shown as an option. 

“A number of people have contacted me about this and I can understand why they feel some of the directors are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

“It really looked at the AGM that progress had been made and there was general consensus on the design put forward by Mr Powell and Mr Bowen.

“By trying to pull a stunt like this the Benefit Society risks alienating its support and that will further damage the chances of future funding.

“I would suggest they really need to start listening and not acting unilaterally, more often than not going against the wishes of shareholders who made it clear at the AGM what they preferred.”

Plan B, which shareholders voted for but not included in the newsletter is shown above.

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Fresh Plans for Pier To Be Revealed

Wednesday, November 14, 15.00

New plans for the Bristol Pier at Shotley have been drawn up and will be presented at an AGM on Friday. 

The moves follows a petition by #protectourpier (POP) group, which has been signed by nearly 300 people, including many of the pier group's shareholders.

The current application, which was refused planning permission by Babergh District Council, has been slammed by hundreds of people as being too large, not what shareholders envisaged when they signed up, and not what is needed by the community.

Directors of the Shotley Heritage Community Charitable Benefit Society Ltd, wanted to create two large contemporary-looking, 15ft high buildings straddling the pier, opposite the Bristol Arms at Shotley Gate, which included a cafe with 84 seats, offices, a workshop, visitor centre and toilets, with one stretching 98ft along the pier obscuring the new down the river Stour.

Issues regrading the lack of parking, the clash with existing businesses in the area, and the adverse impact to the public amenity - including the views in a protected area, have led to concerns.

The new plans, drawn up by a significant shareholder, supported by at least two directors who were unhappy with the original plans, are considered more sympathetic to the Victorian pier.

It is still hoped the Benefit Society will drop their appeal against the unwanted application, and if consensus is reached, a fresh application will be made. Babergh rules dictate any new application, with a similar principle, is made within year no planning application charge will be made, even if the appeal is withdrawn.

Benefit Society board members were asked to comment but wanted to wait until after the AGM before responding publicly.

They plan to consult with shareholders and the non-investors at the meeting at Shotley Village Hall on Friday, November 16. The first AGM will be open to shareholders from 6.30pm for a 7pm start, where the accounts will be revealed, and the directors re-elected. The meeting will be open to the public (and shareholders) from 8.30pm.

* Please read, sign and share, #protectourpier petition here.

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