Shotley Pier is a 122 year old Victorian working pier, sited on the peninsula, bounded by two beautiful rivers, River Orwell and River Stour. The area is a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and UN Ramsar Convention Wetlands with protection from over-development.
The pier has been for sale for several years. However a Shotley community group wants to buy and renovate the pier, to enable people to walk on it, and to enable activities such as leisure fishing, crabbing and other activities that interact with the water such as kayaking, rowing, boarding of ferries and boats for day trips.
Pledges of £39,000 had already been received by the Shotley Heritage Community Benefit Society, with a £1 for £1 match-funding of up to a total of £65,000 offered by the Power To Change Booster Programme. These match shares will be held by Co-operatives UK, a partner in the Community Shares Unit, and will be subject to the same terms and conditions as other members, except for its right to withdraw share capital, which will be restricted to a pro rata amount.
Sally Chicken, chair of the Shotley Heritage Community Benefit Society, said, “People who invest should do so for community reasons, this is not primarily a financial investment, as there will be no dividends. HMRC allow tax relief for new start-ups in stringently limited circumstances to encourage people to invest and get at least some advantage through tax relief. It’s a very welcome approach by HMRC.
“We welcome small purchases from £50 to ensure that everyone can take part in this unique community business.”
“This is a fabulous opportunity for the community and other backers from further afield, to take ownership of this Victorian pier, which is steeped in history,” said Pier project founder member and Babergh District councillor Derek Davis. “It is wonderful to see an idea bounced about in the Bristol Arms a couple of years ago, now taken up by villagers supported by the council and moving forward.”
Babergh District Council played a vital role by paying for a detailed survey, and then offered a £20,000 economic development grant to the newly formed community benefit society.
The Shotley Heritage Community Benefit Society plans to bring the pier back to be used by fishermen, sightseers, birdwatchers and for small yachts to berth alongside, and for people who just want to enjoy a gentle stroll down a uniquely British pier.
Michael Evans, Strategic Director for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, said, “We are proud to be able to support the community buying and renovating Shotley Pier: this is a great example of what a community can achieve by coming together, working hard for a common cause and engaging with thousands of people along the way. The enthusiasm and professional approach of the steering group is inspiring, and we look forward to working with them in the months to come. Shotley Pier is on the way to becoming a community asset owned and enjoyed by all.”
Originally known as Bristol Pier, after the Marquis of Bristol who had the pier built in 1894 in order to cash in on the expansion of the railways, especially for the mail route across from Harwich to the Netherlands.
The pier originally had a narrow gauge rail track to carry mail, and the trucks were later used by the Royal Navy to move munitions. A foot ferry operated from the pier, which has also been used by fishermen and barge owners.
For more information about the Shotley Pier project visit www.shotleypier.co.uk