Victorian pier's appeal to pay for new visitor centre
AN appeal to raise £1.6 million for a new visitor centre on Clevedon's Victorian pier has been launched.
Members of Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust are asking local residents and businesses to back the funding drive to fund a purpose-built visitor centre on the pier.
Trustees have already applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £675,000 towards the cost of the project.
The scheme has been given provisional backing and now trustees are working on the stage two bid for the cash which will see them put in more detailed plans including how they propose to match fund the project.
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Trustees are drawing up bids for funding to charitable organisations and are organising a number of money spinning events.
The fundraising appeal was launched at Clevedon Court and supporters of the pier have now been written to asking for their support.
The pier, the only grade one listed pier in the country open to the public, attracts around 90,000 visitors a year.
It is hoped the new visitor centre will increase the number of visitors to the landmark, which in turn will generate extra money for its continued maintenance.
Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust development manager Jonquil Brooks, who is co-ordinating the fundraising campaign, said: "The pier attracts more than 90,000 visitors a year but its long-term future is questionable.
"Significant funds are required each year in order to preserve the historic ironwork if the pier is to continue to remain open to the public.
"Whilst plans are in hand to renovate the pier during 2012, Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust needs to generate higher surpluses in the long term to fund the continuing cycles of planned maintenance."
Currently there are no visitor facilities on the pier and the new two-storey building, which will be built into the rock face beneath the ramp to the pier, will house a tea room, loos, a multi-function room and exhibition space.
There will be a lift and a viewing platform for people to take in the Clevedon coastline.
Some work will also be carried out to the Toll House to accommodate a shop, pier master's office, interpretation and display area and staff toilets.
Mrs Brooks added: "The new facilities will give visitors a much more pleasurable experience in all weathers and keep them on the pier longer, with the result that they are more likely to make a return visit.
"Critically the new facilities will also enable the trust to increase its annual financial surplus which can then be set aside for the maintenance fund."
The trust has already been granted detailed planning permission and listed building consent and if the money is raised, work could start on the project in January and take 14 months to complete.
Some of the work will be carried out by Freemantle Developments which is developing the next-door Royal Pier Hotel into luxury apartments.
The developer is to contribute to the project through the construction of the below ground works on the pier ramp.
Anyone who wants to donate or get involved with the project can call the pier on 01275 878846 or log onto www.clevedonpier.com.