Eastbourne Pier has reacted with “shock and disbelief” at the council’s decision to run children’s rides from its decking during the summer season.
Owners of the seafront landmark say it now means that having so far sunk £4million into the high-quality re-build following last summer’s crippling fire, they can now see no way of recouping their investment.
The pier’s management has denied that the pier, owned buy Cuerden Leisure is now up for sale.
Pier general manager Christos Stylianou said the decision by Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee which refused listed building consent last Tuesday, “beggared belief”.
“When I heard the council had refused temporary permission for a handful of children’s rides on the pier I was absolutely stunned,” he said.
“They were eager for us to re-build the pier as quickly as possible so that they could send out a positive message about working together, but now I feel they have completely let us down.
The pier wanted to instal a helter skelter, carousel, waltzers, dodgems and stalls on the decked area where the Blue Room stood until it was destroyed by a blaze on July 30 last year.
Planning councillors refused to grant consent because they were unable to impose any conditions restricting the opening times of the rides and after a flurry of objections from residents living on the seafront.
“English Heritage supported our plans for temporary children’s rides to help us through the crucial summer period,” Christos said. “So why has the council’s planning committee turned it down? Are they really saying that our wonderful seafront area is not the right place for families and children to have fun?”
Pier owners Cuerden Leisure believe the decision will impact massively on the popularity and viability of the pier.
They fear that visitor numbers will fall and that the pier shops, who they say had a “wretched time” during last year’s fire, will once again see their trade being knocked sideways.
“On top of all this, the rides would have acted as wind breaks for visitors to the pier. Without the rides, the wind could whip along the seafront and may pose a danger to visitors. To ease this, the pier will have to keep the hoardings up for a much longer period of time than had been planned.
“There is a real question-mark now over the future viability of Eastbourne Pier.
“We are all in a state of complete shock and disbelief at the council’s decision, especially after all the hard work and huge investment that has been put into getting the pier back open after such a terrible fire last summer. This was our chance to begin to recoup some of the £4million invested to date.”
Cuerden Leisure says it is currently considering their options for appeal but believe they’ve missed the window of opportunity for this summer.
For more information on the planning story click here
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