Published: 12:31, 07 March 2019
| Updated: 15:06, 07 March 2019
Council officials have discussed ambitious plans to pedestrianise a stretch of seafront to build a plaza, it has been revealed.
Proposals to pave over Central Parade in Herne Bay opposite the pier - between Pier Avenue and Station Road - have been debated by councillors and officers from the local authority in recent months.
Heron ward representative Andrew Cook says the area could be used to host an array of coastal events, such as Bayfest, as well as a giant ferris wheel and the Memorial Park funfair.
“There has been talk about this among the councillors and Canterbury City Council,” he said. “We are looking at closing the road off by the pier.
“It looks like it could be done and it doesn’t seem too complex.
“It would mean that we won’t have to close roads off in Central Parade for the festival, be able to bring more people to the seafront and encourage more events to be held there.
“We are in the very early stages with it, though, and it’s on hold until after the elections in May.”
Cllr Cook says the Memorial Park funfair could be moved to the proposed plaza.
Police had urged the local authority to relocate the attraction in November after revealing they no longer have the resources to patrol it.
In addition, Cllr Cook believes the area could house a giant ferris wheel – akin to the 170ft Brighton Wheel.
“Who knows, we could put one there for several months of the year,” he said.
“I’m hoping to speak to a company about putting an eye on the seafront and the plaza would help us get it here.
“We would point it towards Whitstable or Reculver and put a screen up to keep it from looking into the flats.”
Three years ago, Cllr Cook approached the owners of the Brighton Wheel about bringing the attraction to Herne Bay after organisers announced it was set to close.
He says a 12-month trial of road closures would be held before a plaza is installed.
Despite believing it will have relatively few hiccups, Cllr Cook fears organisers of the Herne Bay Carnival will “probably moan” about the proposals as the parade route would have to change.
Council spokesman Rob Davies said: “We are always keen to look at ideas to improve the seafront area and the pedestrianisation of part of Central Parade has been suggested in the past, but there are no firm plans for this at the moment.
“Were something like this to come forward, there would have to be considerable county council involvement as the highways authority, as well as extensive public consultation.”
The council is already leading a regeneration project to turn the former Tivoli arcade in Central Parade and land behind into 33 homes, a retail unit and workshops.
It has also revealed in recent months that it is in discussions with Wetherspoon about opening a hotel above the Saxon Shore pub and is working with a company to assess the feasibility of opening a hotel elsewhere on the seafront.