The renovation of Shotley Pier has been given a boost, with the £62,000 invested by local people matched by a further £62,000 from a national programme supporting community ownership.
Shotley Pier, built in 1894 on the River Stour in Suffolk, has been used for a variety of reasons in its lifetime – from moving mail and munitions to a platform for fishers, barges and the HMS Ganges.
But it has fallen into disrepair and is in need of regeneration, prompting locals to set up a co-operatively run organisation to take ownership and raise finance from people in the area.
Through a community share issue, more than over 400 people have now invested from £25 in the pier and will collectively own it.
Conveyancing has been completed on the structure, and the group hopes to exchange contracts soon.
The organisation has received £62,000 – to match the local contributions – from the Community Shares Booster Programme run by Co-operatives UK and Locality, and funded by the independent charitable trust, Power to Change.
The investment will allow the organisation to purchase the pier and begin three years of fundraising. They want to restore the pier for use by fishers, sightseers – creating apprenticeships, jobs and skills in the process.
Councillor Peter Patrick, of Babergh District Council, is among the investors. He said: “I’ve been delighted to support this project from its earliest stages. We felt the community group deserved our support so we paid for the survey and an economic development grant, and continue to work closely with their volunteers to ensure Babergh help.
“I was delighted to acquire a picture through the Pier Group’s Art Auction, and am now a happy investor. I’m hoping to put up a pier plaque in memory of my father, who was a Royal Navy man during WWII and Korea.”
Society chair John Davitt said: “We expect to exchange contracts with the owner of the pier in the near future, as all the conveyancing has been completed. We are still selling community shares for the renovation phase of the project so anyone who would like to see the pier open for public enjoyment can help us by buying one or more shares from £25 each.”
Neil Turton, chief operating officer, Co-operatives UK, added: “It was a pleasure to meet so many of the shareholders and see the keen interest shown at the shareholders’ meeting.
“Shotley Pier is among a new generation of community-owned enterprises that are bringing valuable local assets into the hands of local people. Community share issues are a pioneering way to bring finance into an enterprise while anchoring ownership and control locally.”
Ged Devlin, programmes manager at Power to Change, said: “Community shares are a great way for communities to invest in places and businesses that really matter to them.
“We’ve match-funded pubs, community buildings, renewable energy schemes and now Shotley pier. Hastings Pier, also a community-owned business, won the prestigious Stirling prize for architecture for their renovation only last week.
“When communities come together in this way, anything is possible.”