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Could Southend Pier get a boutique hotel?
A BOUTIQUE hotel could be built to replace the old AMF bowling alley on Southend Pier.
The idea forms part of a new prospectus launched by Southend Council as it again seeks to find a developer to invest millions in the 1.3-mile landmark.
The council has also ruled out rides and amusements at the end of the pier, opting instead for “relaxed recreation” based on a maritime theme.
The document, issued to companies at the start of the Thames Gateway Forum in London, said: “The leisure and entertainment offer will be expected to be open throughout the day and in the evenings and operate all year round.
“The offer must be of a calibre which promotes Southend as a quality, all year round attraction.”
The suggested options which the council hopes will be brought forward by developers include: l Setting aside areas on the pier for an extensive events and entertainment programme l A high-quality restaurant, cafes and kiosks l Boutique hotel at the shore end l Improved facilities to host visiting ships and crews.
Council leader Nigel Holdcroft insisted private companies would be interested in investing in the pier, despite the credit crunch and all previous development plans being ditched.
He said: “We are not looking for something which is going to happen in the short term, but a major investment for the future.
“Southend is one of the few seaside places in the country which has something by which it is known the world over. Blackpool has its tower, Brighton has the Royal Pavilion and Southend has the pier.”
Mr Holdcroft said he did not feel amusement arcades and rides were appropriate for the pier. He added: “The public has made it clear they do not want another major amusement complex like Adventure Island on the pier.
“I believe the pier can complement Adventure Island and the two of them can work together for their mutual benefit. If anyone has plans for another major amusement complex in Southend on this sort of scale, we would be delighted to hear from them and talk about the opportunities available.
“But I do not think this is the way forward for the pier and the public in our consultation have made it clear they want something lower key.”
Rob Tinlin, chief executive and town clerk, pledged to keep the public informed about the plans.
He said: “I want to make one thing clear. Anything we do when we talk to a private company will be conducted as openly as possible all the way through.
“The people of Southend love the pier and think it is something dear to them. They want to know what the council is doing about its restoration.
“I am determined to ensure we do not have a repeat of 2004, when consultants were involved and it went on behind closed doors.
“Then, the council had a company coming in which pulled out at the last minute. This is not going to happen now.”