A RESTAURANT could be built on the pier as part of investment plans for the landmark.

Southend Council leader Ron Woodley revealed “two or three”

investors have come forward to invest in the pier, but discussions were at a very early stage.

However, he said he is “quietly confident” and it is understood one of the early proposals could include a restaurant at the pier head.

He said: “I met an investor between Christmas and New Year, so things are at a very early stage, but the important thing is that, for the first time in a while, people are interested in investing in the pier.

“We are always looking at ideas for the pier and we will not rule anything in or out. We’ll see whether there is a variable entertainment situation on offer for both residents and visitors alike.”

“We all realise there is a need to maintain the pier.

“We have two or three private investors come forward looking to invest in doing something with it. I can’t say what that is yet as we’re in early negotiations.”

Previous council leaders have struggled to attract private businesses to the pier.

Billy Ball, the private owner of Clacton Pier, warned last year the narrow design of the pier, leaving a lack of space for attractions, would deter would-be buyers.

But in the face of rising costs – it cost £1.2million to run last year, with the authority also budgeting £2.65million over the next four years to refurbish the aging structure – the council has to look to the private sector for help.

Mr Woodley confirmed his council would not sell off the pier, but would offer lease deals to potential investors. Southend Council would keep the freehold of the structure.

To combat spiralling costs, the cost of a train ride, up the pier and back, would increase from £4 to £4.30 in the 2015/16 budget, bringing in an extra £45,000.

Rob Tinlin, the council’s chief executive, added: “When we asked residents what they wanted on the pier, they didn’t want rinky dinky attractions there.

“They said they wanted quiet and peaceful attractions.”