Shotley Pier community group reaches its £58,000 fundraising target

The group hope to return the 120-year-old structure, in the River Stour in Suffolk, to full working use

A community benefit society formed to renovate a run-down Victorian pier has hit its £58,000 fundraising target.

Shotley Pier Group was formed in the summer of 2016 to save the 600ft railway pier, which was built 120 years ago to serve fishermen, the Royal Navy HMS Ganges, and other boat users on the River Stour, opposite the port of Harwich in Suffolk.

The group want to bring the 600ft (180m) pier back into working use rather than just for leisure, although people will have recreational access. There is also scope for retail use when the lapsed planning permission for two small kiosks is renewed.

The money raised from the community share issue will be receive match funding from the Community Shares Booster from Power to Change.

On its Facebook page, the society said it would continue to fundraise and sell community shares, although further investment would not attract match funding as “that has now come to an end at this stage of our development”.

John Davitt, chairman of the Shotley Pier Group, told the BBC: “We are overwhelmed by the support of our investors.”

He said the pier looked “bit sorry for itself” above the water line and needed “a lot of work” but added: “the important thing is the sub-sea structure is basically sound”.

Once the purchase has been completed, the group expects to carry out the renovations in 100ft (30m) stages over the next three years, he added.

It says the scheme “will improve this area designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and attract more visitors to spend time in the local area”.

“The renovation of the pier will create several apprenticeships to give young people skills to enter the regional industry of coastal civil engineering and stimulate the local economy,” it adds.

The project is also spreading awareness of the co-op model, offering members a one member, one vote model to ensure democratic control of the asset.

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