Future of Bognor pier plunged into uncertainty after owners withdraw support for Â£5m funding bid
Bognor Pier Trust has been forced to pull out of making a major bid for Lottery money after the pier's owners withdrew their support.
The news comes as a huge blow for the trust and the Friends of the Pier, who have been working on a bid for up to £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure the Grade II listed landmark’s long-term future since 2013.
Following a meeting with representatives of Bognor Pier Leisure Ltd (BPLL) on Wednesday, October 19, the pier trust were informed by joint owner John Ayers that BPLL are not able to support the trust in its bid for lottery funding.
Bognor Pier Trust chairman Paul Wells said: “The trust are clearly disappointed with the news that we will not be able to proceed with the lottery bid, extensive work has been undertaken to get us to this point but we have to respect the owner’s decision not to proceed with the project.
“Support from the pier owner is a key requirement for submitting a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
Bognor Pier Trust was formed in September 2013 to investigate with the present owner the possibilities of securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure the pier’s future.
The Trust has been extremely successful in securing external funding to carry out the necessary work to formulate a bid and have been working with the community to drive community support for the project.
During the process the trust has worked closely with owners Bognor Pier Leisure Ltd, but in a statement joint pier owner Mr Ayres did not go into detail about his exact reasons for no longer supporting the Lottery bid.
Mr Ayers said: “Bognor Pier Leisure Ltd have worked with the trust and we are extremely grateful for the extensive and professional approach the trust has taken in preparation towards submitting a bid.
“At this time and following the results of the work that needed to be carried out we are unable to proceed as a company with the support for the bid.”
The Trust said it was pleased that Mr Ayers at the meeting stated that he had put in place a programme of work to continue repairs to the substructure. All the decking is being replaced and further improvements being made to the arcade.
The trust said it will meet with the Friends of Bognor Regis Pier and other supporters over the next few weeks to consider its options for the future as a community organisation using the skills gained on this project.
Mr Wells added: “I’m extremely grateful to the Friends of the Pier, the local community and local businesses who have shown tremendous community support in promoting the project and assisting the trust in its aims.”