Public to get chance for say on pier plans

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PIER enthusiasts intend to produce visions for the future of the Bognor Regis landmark early next year.

The Bognor Pier Trust members hope to present various proposals for the historic structure in the next two months.

One of the trustees is the town’s mayor Paul Wells. He said: “We are going to be working on the detailed plans over Christmas.

“We hope to produce three ideas and go out to public consultation about them.

“We are just waiting for some information from our consultants about the next steps.

“By the end of January or early February, we should have some ideas for people to have their say about.”

As reported, the trust is working with Bognor Regis Town Council on the Bognor Regis Heritage Vision Board to produce a bid for up to £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The board has received the go-ahead to put in a first stage application to renovate the pier and the Picturedrome cinema.

Nick Stuart-Nicolson, the trust’s chairman, said the pier had done well to survive the constant ravages of the sea for almost 150 years.

He said: “She still stands there majestic and defiant. But I’m sure we must all agree – she now needs some help.”

Gaining backing from the heritage fund and other sources, such as the Coastal Communities Fund, for the Grade II-listed building, built in 1865, would provide a boost to the entire town, he said.

“This will give Bognor a real chance to grow, to provide employment opportunities and, in turn, support local businesses and benefit the town. This will be a lengthy process, but as we are now tasked with the pier’s restoration we shall be staging fundraising events on and around the pier for all age groups throughout the year.”

Jan Malpas, another of the trustees, said the trust had achieved a lot since it was formed last summer.

It was set up as community interest company last August with five trustee directors.

It has been involved in two major events. The first was the annual illuminations gala on the August bank holiday which its float won. This was quickly followed by the trust’s launch on the pier on September 1.

The trust’s work is being backed by 14 company sponsors, as well as a growing paid-up membership and a large following on Facebook.

Next year would see a timetable of fundraising events set up. A strategy for raising funds would also be compiled along with a target to be achieved.

Pier owner John Ayers has welcomed the trust’s work. He plans to rent the pier back from the trust, if it raises enough to buy it, to enable his businesses to continue.