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Sell Museum to pay for Pier?

The report from Humberts Leisure angers the Museum campaigners, and doesn't please the Pier campaigners.

Debate welcome on Pier future

Herne Bay’s Museum and Kings Hall should be sold off to pay for the redevelopment of town’s pier, a new report has suggested. The document, which was written for the city council by consultants Humberts Leisure at a cost of £10,000 reveals few developers are interested in working on the pier and suggests local firms may be the only hope.

The consultants recommend demolishing the pavilion building and using the empty pier structure as a performance or events space. A cafe, shops and entertainment venue could replace the hall, and collections in the museum could be relocated to the new pier.

The report said the museum building may be worth as much as £200,000. Council spokesman Rob Davies stressed no decision has been taken as yet to accept the report’s recommendations - which are likely to outrage campaigners still reeling from their failed fight to stop funding cutbacks to the museum. Campaigner Linda O’Carroll said:

“This suggests the council had no intention of saving Herne Bay museum and their review of its future counts for nothing. But we will continue to fight and at the moment we are investigating a lottery grant to help secure its future.”

The consultants admit redeveloping the pier will be expensive, and the council may need to find new ways of raising cash to fund the project - such as providing more beach huts along the seafront. Other suggestions include running an indoor children’s play centre and a Victorian-themed children’s ride, offering studios to artists and creating a water sports base. Proposals for a cinema, bowling alley and housing were ruled out. The consultants did not rule out connecting the two ends of the pier with an aerial ride of cable car-like pods.

The report concludes council should explore a long-term vision for the pier, “with a view to the reconstruction or restoration of the pier to its original length, or in a new form, in the longer term”. Councillors have agreed to move the sports facilities to Herne Bay High School and the Herons Leisure Centre site. Cllr Peter Lee, who chairs the town's regeneration panel, said:

“I welcome the publication of this report as the next step towards the regeneration of the pier. Subject to the relocation of the sports facilities, the report demonstrates that the pier has a significant future as an important visitor attraction at the heart of the town’s seafront. The report sets out positive and realistic options for consideration and I look forward to the debate in the town before the council takes any decisions.”

HB Times 2010-02-25

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