A £100,000 project to modernise Burnham’s pier will create up to 12 new jobs and secure its future, says its owner after a decision by district councillors to give the scheme the go-ahead yesterday (Tuesday).
Delighted Pavilion Manager Louise Parkin was given approval to install a £60,000 high-tech folding roof and another £40,000 of improvements as district councillors voted to help the economic vibrancy of the attraction.
The surprise decision was made despite Sedgemoor District Council’s planning case officer, Chris Gomm, recommending that the application be rejected.
Miss Parkin told Burnham-On-Sea.com she is “incredibly relieved” that the scheme has been granted permission.
She explained why the scheme is so vital for the Pavilion’s future: “The costs of maintaining a 100 year-old pier are enormous year-on-year and we have to do what we can to make it viable. With constant changes to legislation within our business and taxation, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the earnings and therefore the sustainability of the whole pier.”
“Since 2007 our amusement takings have dropped by 75%, as it has nationwide, with over 200 seaside amusement arcades shutting, so with our overheads and continual maintenance we have to adapt and compensate before the structure is compromised, because as it stands at this moment, it is not sustainable.”
“To give you examples, according to the Piers Society, Colwyn Bay Pier looks set for demolition, Portsmouth South Parade Pier is in dire straights, Birnbeck Pier is in mortal danger, Hastings Pier is struggling for survival, Saltburn, Skegness, Eastbourne, Blackpool North and Cromer Piers are all facing millions of pounds in repairs and several others are up for sale.”
“Old and modern can co-exist which is why the Piers Society has given their full support for this application not only in the design but more importantly as a means of securing the continual maintenance of the pier.”
“Old is not always best – Aberystwyth seafront was destroyed along with a grade two listed shelter in the recent storms but a similar structure to this one remained standing undamaged.”
“Lucky for us we have a superb modern sea wall. Our opening hours will not change, nor will our kitchen facilities and the seating area will be almost the same as it is now, but in all weathers.”
“The tables and chairs will remain in situ, so less noise and we will also house new children’s rides as well as our traditional flower display.”
“We have been at the Pavilion for 46 years so please allow me the courtesy to know my own business. I need cover in bad weather but outdoor seating in good weather.”
“I need easy access for disabled and pushchairs and I need facilities for smokers. I need cover for children’s rides and I need all of this within a budget as well as the ability to withstand the worst of our weather. This fills all those criteria.”
“There are already several buildings within Burnham’s Conservation Area that are totally out of keeping – College Court and Victoria Court amongst them – and not forgetting the Sunspot Amusements and Esplanade Fish Bar and even the Bay View Café, all on our lovely seafront.”
“When Sedgemoor District Council asked English Heritage to list the Pavilion last year, they declined. They did say, however, that ours was a prime example of how commercialism had maintained the structure although now modernized and given it sustainability without a penny in public money.”
“When I began catering 40 odd years ago, there were only six or seven places to eat in the entire town, but my competition has increased by six or seven times that figure but none of them are as exposed to the elements as I am.”
The proposed shelter will be 14 metres wide by 10 metres deep and will provide seating for the Pavilion’s café. The plans for a 35ft retractable roof to cover the food forecourt were first revealed here.