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Shotley Pier work to start in two weeks thanks to EU funding boost

PUBLISHED: 16:30 16 September 2019

The Shotley Pier regeneration project has received £144,500 of European Union funding  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The Shotley Pier regeneration project has received £144,500 of European Union funding Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Archant

Major proposals to restore Shotley Pier to its former glory have received a six-figure cash boost - meaning work could start very soon.

The Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society hope to begin works in two weeks Picture: RACHEL EDGEThe Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society hope to begin works in two weeks Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Its long-awaited regeneration is now just two weeks away from starting, developers say, thanks to a £144,864 windfall from the European Agricultural Fund.

And if a new planning application is approved, the Victorian pier could soon become a bustling visitor attraction - having been used in the past to ferry mail, coal, munitions and sailors across the river Stour.

Thanks to the funding, volunteers hope to have a land bridge section of the pier open to the public by spring 2020, weather depending.

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They are able to make certain alterations to the original pier without planning permission, but to add extra buildings or visitor facilities, volunteers must have the proposals rubber-stamped by the council.

Sally Chicken, director of the Shotley Heritage Charitable Community Benefit Society, which purchased the pier in 2018, said: "We are overjoyed to know that in a matter of months people will be able to walk along a section of the pier.

"We applied for the grant two years ago, things take a long time to come into fruition. The money will help us buy new timber - we'll be buying it all at once due to currency fluctuations.

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"We hope to start work within the next two weeks - contractors say the weather is perfect."

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However, the group has seen bumps in the road to regeneration.

Previous plans for additions to the pier site were rejected by just one vote in August 2018 during a heated Babergh District Council debate.

They had planned to add an 80-seat cafe and workshop to the site, which inspector Robert Fallon feared would "erode the open outlook currently enjoyed" from the land.

A bid to overturn the rejection failed in June this year. Mrs Chicken said a new planning application has now been finalised by the group - including a smaller building and shorter platform - which they hope to put to the council by spring.

South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge said he was "delighted" by the news.

He added: "As patron of the pier project I am excited that this excellent community initiative will now be able to physically get underway and look forward to seeing it progress.

"As always, the team deserve praise for their continued energy and dedication."

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