Saturday, 19 December 2009

Crunch Time for Colwyn Bay Pier

Crumbling Handrails on Victoria Pier, Colwyn Bay (Photo Credit)

I'm back in the online world (for a while, at least) and have been catching up with the goings on in the local area. I was interested to see that a Public Meeting to discuss the future of the Pier has been called for Friday the 22nd January 2010 at 6pm in the Town Hall, Colwyn Bay. I understand from Cllr. Oddy's blog that the meeting will be chaired by David Jones MP and will be a 'full and open debate about the Pier’s future'.

As it stands, the future for the pier is not looking terribly bright. It is in a very poor state of repair and I'm struggling to see where the money could come from to undertake a comprehensive renovation.

Let's look at it more closely ....

Pier Structure - Most, if not all, of the piles are perfectly sound. Many of the tie-bars and struts that 'lock' the piles together are damaged or missing. The iron girders that rest on the piles and support the decking and buildings are in varying states of repair - whilst the ones underneath the shoreward building are fairly sound, the outer ones underneath the main Pavilion building are in a very poor state, the inner ones not so bad. The girders on the newer section of pier neck (from the buildings to the pier head) are in fairly good condition.

Deck Level & Handrails - The decking around the shoreward building is in a fair state of repair. The decking around the Pavilion building requires some repair/replacement of planking. The decking on the section of pier from the buildings to the pier head is all in need of replacement. The cast iron decorative handrails are, themselves, in fairly good condition but the wooden supports they are attached are badly rotted in places (see above photo) and will require extensive replacement.

Shoreward Building - This building was renovated internally by the current owner and comprises a former Fishing Tackle Shop, Amusements, Cafe & Bar. The main current concerns with this building are roof leaks and the exterior appearance - it requires a complete repaint and tidying up/removal of the various additions/alterations over the years to give a more pleasing appearance.

Shoreward Building (Photo Credit)

Main Pavilion Building - a good friend of mine is fond of describing this building as looking like a 'shanty town at sea'. It's not hard to see why; it is in an appalling state of repair externally and would require extensive work to make it look acceptable again. Internally, it is far better looking but, again, requires extensive work.

Main Pavilion Building (Photo Credit)

My Conclusion -'s a tough one. Who in the private sector would want to throw millions at renovating the entire pier when it is extremely unlikely that the profits earned would repay their investment? A parallel can be drawn with Hastings Pier - the brother/sister that own the Grand Pier, Weston Super Mare were recently asked to look at Hastings Pier with a view to buying it and restoring it. Their view was that it was not economically feasible to do so, given its state of repair (which is similar to Colwyn Bay Pier).

Therefore, I feel the only realistic option may be to concentrate scarce resources on reopening the section of pier that houses the two buildings (the original 1900 structure) and effectively abandoning the rest of it unless the funding can be found at some point in the future. Given that a commercial partner with money to invest has not materialised in the last few years, it seems unlikely that one will appear now.

It may therefore be that the only choice is for the Owner to either hand the pier over to a charitable trust or let it fall into the sea.

The original Victoria Pier in 1900


Councillor John Oddy said...

I do not think you’re last suggestion is a viable one, letting it fall into the sea is not an option.
To make this of interest to a commercial investor we have to make it commercially worthwhile I would, therefore suggest we lengthen and widen the Pier with a crescent of shops and apartments at the end of it and down the centre.
At the very end of it build a pontoon Marina, the only non-tidal marina in North Wales. At the sides of the Pier, housings and jetties for jet-skiers and other water based activities.
From Rhos point to Llanddulas point build a tidal turbine barrier thereby forming a lagoon in which the jet skiers can hold their tournaments and also protecting our shoreline. This tidal turbine, working on the rise and fall of the tide would also bring with it jobs and cheaper electricity.
In accomplishing this we would be making Colwyn Bay the water sports capital of not only Wales but a rival to anywhere in the UK. As mentioned it would also bring with it further employment, a marina and Pier would require staff to run it and the marina would bring a host of people to Colwyn Bay who require shops.
If we give permission to one of the Energy companies to build the lagoon they, in exchange, invest in the Pier and the shoreline development, a profit share with investors and CCBC would see an increase in activities and a decrease in Council Tax.
Winners all around.

Anonymous said...

One possible senario was to offer

shares in the pier ao the sum required these could range from novelty single shares to whole traches of shares which could eventually pay a dividend i for one would be interested in purchasing a few for both commercial and personal reasons

Reggie said...

They should move the Council offices to the pier buildings, rather than the proposed Colwyn town centre.

Chris Hughes could have an exclusive office suite with sea views...and maybe the girders underneath would give way, and he would fall into the depths below........

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Anonymous said...

Time is marching the pier is desperate for some maintenance work, Mr. Hunt has been treated badly. Too many words spoken and no result.
So! - is it not possible to get some funding for a can of paint and a brush and START WORK instead of this continual battle of wits. Yes the whole thing stinks but lets move on whilst the legal side is being sorted. If the pier is brought to look as though someone cares then just maybe some funding might appear. Forget the fact the handrails are falling off, no-one is using it anyway but that does not stop a facelift job.
Yes I can hear the moans already. Who will be paying for the paint and a brush. Who will be painting it (for nothing!!!) Damn. get a paint deal going with ICI Dulux so they can get some advertising out of it. Get an deal going with Harris brushes so they can get some advertising. Who is going to paint it. Hmm! - how many folks living in Colwyn Bay cannot find a job and so have poor self esteem. I am sure many would just love to be doing something. Their reward for help would be that their allowances / pensions would not suffer because they volunteered their services. If not I'll do it. Yes for free.
There are ways around the problem so why not brighten up the pier even if the legal battle drags on for years. I'll bet the people that use the waterfront for their jets skies would love to become part of it. Come on guys let's have a response. We live here and we need to take this matter in hand without the bickering.
Oh yes - Money?? Get a yard sale going or a car booty and donate the proceeds even easier donate some money so a start can be made.
By the way I have nothing to do with the pier except it is part of Colwyn Bay's heritage and I don't want to see it go.
One final thought. The pier is in private ownership so will probably not qualify for an EU grant. Therefore the scoundrels who are in the pocket for EU funding for Colwyn Bay will find this pier a nuisance and will probably block any attempt to save it it. I hope not.
Regards Indigo.

Sibani roy said...

I too strongly believe that the Colwyn Bay Pier is a part of Colwyn Bay and National Heritage as a whole and should be restored and preserved in some form. I also believe that things might be difficult but nothing is impossible.

Cllr Sibani Roy.

Chameleon said...

I've opened a Discussion Thread for the Pier on the Three Towns Forum, please feel free to come over and add your views:

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