Pier Group Set To Lose Thousands On Burger Bar

*UPDATED Monday, December 9, 09.00

Shotley pier directors have lost even more money than expected after its burger van failed to sell on eBay.

A bid of £820 was the highest made on the online auction but failed to materialise and the van was put back onto the market.

Only three bidders took part this time, with £660 being the highest. That represents a loss of around £5,000 to pier group shareholders and alltaxpayers. 

Wednesday, November 20, 20.00

Shareholders have expressed concerns after it became clear Shotley pier group is set to lose thousands of pounds on a burger bar. 

Directors of the group, led by John Davitt and Sally Chicken, paid out in the region of £5,500 for the hot snacks van to successful previous owner Malcom Pridmore in the summer, but have now put it up for sale on eBay, with the latest bid at just £820, with less than 14 hours left to bid, representing a loss of nearly £4k.

It is understood the pier’s benefit society directors could not get insurance for the van to be transported due to the condition of the chassis, which they were told about when they bought it from the previous owner.

In the sale description on eBay the seller, using the name Galliform1, made it clear the van was not in a working condition and should only be bought for spare parts. Unless there is a huge bidding war between now and 09.30 Thursday morning, pier shareholders face loss equivalent to more than 400 individual shares.

One shareholder who, has asked not to be named due to fear of reprisals, saw the advert and contacted Peninsula News to express their surprise at seeing it on sale for such a low rice so shortly after.

"This is disgraceful," said the supporters of the pier renovation. "It just seem they have no regard for shareholders' money as this is not the first time moment appears to have been wasted.

"You look at unwanted planning applications, unnecessary and costly appeals, never mind the thousands spent on consultants and legal fees and you wonder just what they are up too.

"I, along with many others, bought shares to see the pier restored yet not an inch of the pier has been restored. Whoever made these decisions should be ashamed and resign."

The pier group's benefit society directors were given the opportunity to comment but have so far chosen not to explain their actions.

See for yourself on eBay...

Opinion: Looks like pier group has begrudgingly accepted defeat, as burger van gobbles up cash

While the pier group directors will probably never be big enough to admit defeat, their latest newsletter (July, 2019) would indicate they know their overly-ambitious plans have failed and they have to accept, however begrudgingly, there is little point in putting in a fresh application of a similar scale.

Wading through the fluff, the message is clear that they realise the hundreds of people that supported Protect Our Pier were right all along in calling for the pier opposite the Bristol Arms to be restored just as  pier and not some over-developed arts venue, visitor centre and cafe.

They scored an own goal with their appeal against Babergh's decision to refuse their original application, and the Planning Inspector's report makes it clear any sort development on this non-designated site of historic interest and character, with its outstanding public views, would not be acceptable and planning officers and committee would be hard pressed to go against his legal findings.  

We welcome their move to just start restoration of the pier planks, railings and those piles, which need attention and bring the historic pier back to public use where we can all stroll along the promenade into the Stour and enjoy the wonderful, unspoilt views down towards Cattawade and across to Essex.

It is also interesting to note how more money appears to have been squandered with the £5,000 plus they paid for Malcy's burger van failing to make a return as costly repairs, and possible insurance issues have made it unviable to use.

We believe their plea for volunteers as interest clearly wanes, also tells its own story.  

Vindicated - Well done everyone that fought this group and won...


Tardy Pier Group Fail In Appeal Costs Bid

Monday, June 17, 16.00

Shotley Pier Group have failed in their bid to recover costs from Babergh after they did not get the paperwork done in time.

The Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society, known as the pier group, instructed their planning consultant Philip Cobbold to recover costs, including his fee understood to be between £2,000 and £2,500, but the deadline to apply was missed by two weeks, and so was not even considered, according to a letter written on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Benefit Society directors were told by the inspector an application for costs had to be made by May 14, but the form was not submitted until May 28.

In any event, the appeal against Babergh's decision to refuse planning permission for two large buildings by the pier was dismissed, so it is unlikely they would have succeeded anyway.  

Babergh District Council did not apply for costs as a matter of policy when dealing with minor appeals using written submissions.

See full decision letter here using reference: DC/18/01384 in simple search.

Shotley Pier Group's Appeal Dismissed

Tuesday, June 11, 17.00

Shotley Pier Group has lost its appeal against a decision to refuse permission to build on Bristol Pier, Shotley Gate. 

An independent planning inspector has ruled Babrgh's planning committee was right to refuse an application by Shotley Heritage Community Benefit Society Ltd, more commonly known as the pier group.

Mr Robert Fallon, the Inspector, pointed out in his report that he concurred with the decision by the planning committee that the harm of building workshops, an arts venue, visitor centre, workshops and cafe on the character and appearance of the area looking down the River Stour, outweighed the benefits put forward by the appellant.

Mr Fallon, who visited the site in mid-May said the pier is of: "Significant local historical value with its isolated position, lack of buildings and attractive timber piles, beams and deck construction making a significant contribution towards the character and appearance of the area".

Mr Fallon also expressed concerns that the proposed development would be constructed without the pier being restored, and there was no evidence the buildings were needed and the income would not cover the costs of the restoration, given how much the two buildings would cost, or if the income derived from the development would be re-invested or anything to prevent the new buildings being sold separately from the rest of the pier before its restoration had been paid and completed.

The Inspector also rejected the benefit society directors assertion the pier would fit in with the new developments nearby and pointed out the homes being built on land near Admiralty Pier was previously built on house a large boatyard. 

More than 40 objections from members of Shotley community were made at the time, the parish council wrote against the plans and district councillor Derek Davis brought the application to the full planning committee, after an initial Babergh officer report recommended approval.  

An online petition with more than 320 signatoriesurged the benefit society directors not to pursue the appeal and instead devote all their time, money and energy into just restoring the pier to its original Victorian condition to be used by the public to stroll down, enjoy the views and perhaps fish off the end, with a couple of small kiosks added to earn a small return to support the pier maintenance, along with other grants and funding. 

Cllr Davis said: "This decision is no surprise and I feel the Inspector has made some very clear and concise points, showing he agrees with a lot of the points and arguments made by many Shotley residents. 

"It is shame that so much time, energy and money has been wasted by the directors in pursuing an unwanted application in the first place, then continuing with the appeal, which hundreds of people did not want them to do.

"A great deal of goodwill and enthusiasm has been lost by these directors and I hope they consider their own positions. Whoever runs the benefit society should start listening to the wider community and not just a small group that are clearly out of touch with the vast majority who continue to want to see the pier restored.

"They just don't want an unnecessary, unneeded and very costly arts venue, visitor centre, cafe and workshops. No doubt if any fresh application is made then it will be looked upon by me and the planning committee as a new plan and dealt with on its own merits, and residents will have their say too." 

The pier group/benefit society has been invited to comment but so far failed to respond.


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. 

Sign our petition here...

Council Still Objects to Pier Plan

Wednesday, April 24

Objectors have one more week to make this views clear as Shotley pier group are continuing to pursue its appeal against Babergh’s decision to refuse planning permission for a large visitor centre, arts venue, workshop and café with seating for up to 84 people.

Despite drawing up new plans, the pier group continue to hope their appeal will be granted for the original, controversial application.

If they are successful the group will be able to develop the two 15ft high buildings, blocking beautiful views down the river Stour and would be harmful to the landscape.

If it fails then the group are understood to be ready to make a fresh application, adjusted from the first unsuccessful bid, but still contrary to the original idea to restore the pier as a Victorian pier for people to enjoy in a relaxed manner.

The appeal was validated on March 27 and all 37 people who wrote in to object have been written to asking if their opinion has changed. Only one person supported the original application, which was roundly criticised.

Objectors and consultees have until Wednesday, April 30 to confirm their comments remain valid and the pier group as the appellants will also set out the reasons for their appeal.

Shotley parish Council last Thursday confirmed their original objection still stood, although they were aware new plans could be submitted, which may address osme issues.

The PIanning Inspectorate can be contacted on orThe Planning Inspectorate 3D Eagle Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square Bristol BS1 6PN

Costs could be awarded against the losing side, with the pier group footing the bill for their own consultants and professional fees' s well as legal fees incurred by Babergh. Conversely, Babergh taxpayers will have to pay if the decision goes against them. Ether way the pier group have made it clear they will put in a new application anyway.

Babergh’s planning committee refused permission last August after agreeing with objectors that argued that a treasured view down the Stour would be obliterated, therefore leading to a detrimental visual impact for the public, and the scale, design and other issues outweighed the need for the building, which much of the community still don't want.

At the original hearing, Shotley resident and Commodore of the Sailing Club Tom Clayton, Bristol Arms landlord, shareholder and original member of the group to get the project off the ground Shane Rolin, along with Richard Lindgard, A Shotley Marina director who has invested heavily in the area, shared their three-minute slot.

They showed the widespread unity and opposition there is against this particular project, although all spoke in favour of the pier being restored to the Victorian style pier it once was.

The trio pointed out the parking issues, especially as the pier group do not own much of the parking spaces along King Edward's Drive opposite the sailing club and along from Admiralty Pier.

It was pointed out the maintenance of the pier, just as a pier to be enjoyed by locals and a small number of visitors, without the 15ft high unwanted development could be funded from a couple of much smaller stalls being allowed, as previously built, grants and the support of the community volunteers.

No one spoke in support of the plans, Shotley Heritage Community Benefit Society director Peter Stabbings, spoke on behalf of the applicant.

He revealed to the committee it was estimated the cost of the development would be £1.8m, while just the cost of restoring the pier as it was, would be between £300k and £900,00 and they planned to spend £40,000 on a new survey, despite a significantly less expensive survey was already carried out in 2016.

The committee refused permission on two grounds, which is what the Planning Inspector will consider 

  1. Policies CN01, RE06, RE14 and CS15 of the development plan, alongside Paragraph 127 of the NPPF, require new development to respect and conserve the landscape qualities of an area (and in this instance the Stour and Orwell estuaries), and to provide an acceptable standard of design in that respect”.
  2. The proposal would, by virtue of its siting, scale and form, harm the landscape character of the area, public views in and out of the area, and the character of the Stour and Orwell estuaries contrary to the aforementioned polices and where the harm identified would not be outweighed by the benefits of the development”.

Although new plans are being drawn up nothing has changed in terms of the original application which was refused.

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.

Sign the petition here...

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.

Comments on this post should be sent to shotleypier@gmail.com.

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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