It is nearly always a pleasure to read comments from readers on the Viewpoint pages of the Lynn News, but one letter from on August 28 left me wondering exactly what the writer was expecting me to do about some of the points he raised. For example, he wants to know if “all members of the Civic Society know about the construction of the pier and who it was built for…”
In answer to this question I can only point out that 20,000 people have visited the Heritage Centre since it opened in 2013, so it is not just Civic Society members who have discovered how the pier came to be built. Through this column over the past five years I have also done my best to inform readers on this subject, but the question asked most frequently by visitors to the Heritage Centre is: “How on earth did they get away with putting that awful building where the pier should be, when a covenant imposed by the le Strange Estate sixty years ago clearly prohibits the erection of any permanent structure on The Green?”
There is undoubtedly a need for a ‘Pier Fact File’ to be published. The writer seems to agree with me on that score, but naming and shaming those responsible for ignoring the covenant on ‘The Green’ is not as important as persuading West Norfolk Council that recent developments provide an ideal opportunity to correct past mistakes – in the first instance by acquiring the ‘pier’ building - using whatever means are necessary.
Your contributor wants me to “write about things going on” and it seems to me that the ‘pier’ being on the market with an asking price of £4.25m is something well worth writing about, because most of the people I meet on the streets and in the shops are in agreement that it is high time the inhabitants of Hunstanton were given a say on the future of their town.
The only thing dividing public opinion is whether The Green should be pier-less (and hangar-less) as envisaged by Henry le Strange, or include a reinstated pier, as prescribed in the 999-year lease granted by Hamon le Strange to the Hunstanton Pier Company in 1870 and back-dated to 1868.
Following careful research I am able to state categorically that the covenant on The Green, which was imposed for the benefit of the inhabitants and visitors of Hunstanton, has not been revoked or amended by the le Strange Estate. This means that solicitors acting for any prospective purchaser of the ‘Pier’ entertainment centre will be legally obliged to advise their clients of the possibility of a Charitable Trust being formed (possibly similar to ‘Alive’) which could do what the council has failed to do by enforcing the terms of the covenant.
This will be just one possibility under consideration at a meeting hosted by Hunstanton & District Civic Society in the town Hall on September 16 at 7.30 pm entitled: “Back to the future for Hunstanton Pier”. Admission: £1 for members, £3 non-members who can join the Civic Society for the next 12 months for just £10 or £18 for a couple.