The restoration of Colwyn Bay pier has been hit by a major funding setback.
Colwyn Victoria Pier Trust (CVPT) who have been working in partnership with Conwy County Borough Council were “shocked” when they were told at a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund that any application for money for the grade II listed structure “would not be favourably considered, because it is a pier.”
Vice chairman of the CVPT, Nigel Gilbert said: “HLF Trustees apparently consider any pier project to be ‘high risk’.
“This is in view of the negative economic performances of Hastings and Penarth piers.
“Subsequent investigation reveals that despite experiencing difficulties both these projects remain in rude health.”
Last week, The Pioneer reported how a planning application had been submitted for permission to dismantle the pier and redevelop a truncated pier, whilst storing elements of heritage and or structural value for potential re-use in a future restoration by a third party.
CVPT, who have long campaigned to save the pier, feel they have been unfairly treated by the “unexpected rejection”.
Mr Gilbert said: “CVPT feel especially aggrieved about this totally unexpected rejection since they had been encouraged to continue with their campaign to save the Victoria pier by HLF ever since ownership issues scuppered an earlier bid for Lottery funding.
“We were also been advised in 2016 and again this year by HLF of a number of conditions that we needed to meet to proceed with a new approach for funding. We fully met those conditions prior to the meeting.
“We feel that it’s not just their campaign that has been badly let down by this apparently arbitrary decision by the HLF but also the people of Colwyn Bay with what is a setback to the regeneration opportunities that would follow from the development of the pier.”
HLF said that any project they invest in must “demonstrate longevity and a clear vision for their future sustainability”.
Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, Richard Bellamy said: “We invest time and resources in developing a constructive dialogue with all our potential applicants to ensure they have a clear understanding of our funding criteria and we advise them accordingly. This helps the applicants in deciding whether to make an application to us or potentially to tailor it in view of the discussion.
“We have a responsibility for distributing money raised by National Lottery players and as a result we take great care to spend the money wisely taking the possible risks of each project into account. The projects that we invest in must demonstrate longevity and a clear vision for their future sustainability.”