The appearance last week of stumps marking the footprint of Hunstanton Pier prompted me to send this email to borough council leader, Brian Long:
“From the attached photograph you will see that Hunstanton Pier is making a comeback. When similar stumps appeared a few years ago they were unceremoniously removed and carted off to landfill. On this occasion I am hoping your council will adopt a more thoughtful approach and be mindful of the fact that this historic monument is Grade II-listed. When most of the pier was lost to the sea in January 1978 Clifford Walters [a senior planning officer] very unwisely gave permission for the pier head to be removed later the same year, but the pier was not de-listed. As a result, Listed Building Consent would be required before making any attempt to remove the stumps just showing above the beach at this time.
“You might recall that in 2012 one of the reasons given by the HLF for not awarding a grant, which would have enabled BCKLWN to re-instate the pier, was that there appeared to be nothing left of the original pier. We can now disprove this argument and strengthen the case for a renewed bid to the HLF (or a bid to the Coastal Community Fund) that would enable BCKLWN to fulfil its 2007 pledge to reinstate the pier as part of a regeneration scheme for Hunstanton.
“If the HLF considers the 1960s ‘Butterfly’ shelters so important, surely there would be no argument against the rebuilding of the 1860s Victorian pier on the footprint clearly defined by the recently exposed stumps. I do not remember anyone suggesting that Sea Henge should end up in landfill, so why not show similar regard for such an important icon, which was an integral part of the town’s heritage from 1868 to 1978?”
In reply Mr Long wrote: “The pier is not making a comeback, tidal movement of sand has exposed remains of stumps, these will not be touched unless they present a risk to anyone’s safety.”
There followed this email from chief executive Ray Harding: “I am advised that Hunstanton Pier was not in fact a listed building, hence listed building consent would not be required in the event that it proved to be necessary to remove the stumps at some point in the future.”
I replied: “Someone has given you wrong advice regarding our Conservation Area. According to documents in my possession, Hunstanton Pier received Grade II-listed status in August 1975. Cromer Pier became a Grade II-listed building at the same time. In January 1978 both piers were badly damaged in a storm. North Norfolk District Council repaired Cromer Pier, but chose not to replace the pier amusement arcade. Unfortunately, West Norfolk District Council did exactly the opposite! Instead of enforcing the repairing covenant in the 999-year lease for the pier, permission was given for the removal of the pier head, which had survived the storm. According to documents in my possession (but apparently not available to you) Listed Building Consent for the removal of the pier head was not obtained until September 12, 1978, whereas CHS Amusements Ltd had acquired the pier entrance building and the Hunstanton Pier Company within days of the storm in January 1978...”