By Rebecca Hannant
Withernsea’s ward councillors and the local MP have praised efforts by volunteers to rebuild the town’s pier after it was announced that the project had become unviable and the group was disbanding.
The Withernsea Pier and Promenade Association said that it had been forced to abandon the seven-year project over a series of logistical and planning issues, saying they had become “fatigued” by their “endless battle” with East Riding Council over various permissions.
Jane Evison, the council’s former portfolio holder for economic investment, growth and tourism, said she was impressed by the group’s enthusiasm and hoped someone else could take up the mantle in the future.
She said: “In brief, the pier group came to me some time ago as they were frustrated at not being able to make progress with the project.
I was impressed by their enthusiasm and the recognition of the importance establishing a new pier in Withernsea would have to residents and the local economy.
“We set up a working group and met online regularly to try and work through the issues which were preventing them taking the pier project forward. As you will appreciate a project of this size is not easy or straightforward and safety was naturally very high on the agenda, the amount of detail which was demanded was statutory because everyone involved had to be sure the public would be safe.
“As a result of delays while all the information required was sought, the price of materials went through the roof and that I am afraid is where things were the last time I met with the group. “I was greatly impressed by their enthusiasm and the amount of time they gave to try and make this project a reality, I do hope that someone will try again at some point, but it will take a great deal of time and money.”
South East Holderness councillor Claire Holmes said: “It’s sad that the Withernsea Pier Project is winding up, but what the WPPA volunteers have achieved is amazing. They produced plans for a beautiful pier, got the planning permission, the money, and were ready to go ahead. That’s an extraordinary achievement and I applaud everyone who has been involved.”
Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart added: “It would be wonderful to see the Pier rebuilt in Withernsea. All those involved who had the drive and ambition and to take on all aspects of such a major project are to be commended for their hard work.
“Large-scale engineering projects face major challenges now in terms of prices of materials and labour. I was disappointed to hear that the challenges had become so great that it was not feasible for the pier to go ahead soon.”
The future of the project remains uncertain, as does the question of who will take on the upkeep of the Pier Towers.
Cllr Holmes added: “I remain hopeful for the future of the Withernsea pier project in time to come.”
Mr Stuart added: “If circumstances become more favourable in the future the design work and plans the WPPA have been working on could still be utilised and I sincerely hope that the circumstances arise that this can be revisited.”