Published: 00:01, 08 September 2018
The chair of the Herne Bay Pier Trust has been accused of “dreaming” up £4m plans to extend the iconic attraction halfway out to its abandoned head.
Doreen Stone revealed to the Gazette last week her hopes to build a new walkway and platform as part of long-term plans to attach it to its derelict head.
But Andy Newell - once an outspoken pier trust member - questions Ms Stone’s estimations, claiming it could cost triple.
“As far as her costings are concerned, she’s dreaming,” Mr Newell said. “I don’t know what sort of width she’s thinking of, but there’s no way you can build the pier halfway out for £4m. It would be nearer £10m to £12m.”
Mr Newell, who was a founding member of the trust, was involved in attempts to extend the pier in 1998 and 2000 and to build a £70m marina in 2013.
Ms Stone said she will submit a bid for “millions” of pounds to the Coastal Communities Fund over the next two years.
She will also try to secure subsidies from the Heritage Lottery Fund if the foundations of the former pier are able to be restored.
But Mr Newell says: “We were told by Heritage after its visits in 1998 and 2000 that there wasn’t enough of a structure to grant us the funding for it to be restored.
“Apart from getting Coastal Communities Funding, I can’t see Doreen Stone getting the pier restored unfortunately. As far as the Heritage Lottery Fund is concerned, it’s a non-starter.”
Following Mr Newell’s criticism, Ms Stone says her “estimation of £4m would be to make a start on building a bit further out, maybe not halfway”.
“It probably would cost more to get halfway, but we have to make a start somewhere,” she added.
“Looking at the other successful bids from other seaside towns for Coastal Communities Funding, £4m would be the most I could apply for.
“I don’t think it would be feasible applying for £10m.”
But she insisted she will explore other types of backing, including from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The old pier, built in 1895, was once the second longest in the country – stretching out more than 3,700ft.
During the Second World War its centre was blown up to prevent enemy landings.
It was later replaced by two temporary bridges, but they collapsed, leaving the head stranded, after storms in 1978 and 1979.