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Seaside pier put up for sale for £6m

PUBLISHED: 09:17 06 July 2010 | UPDATED: 21:50 01 August 2010

SOUTHWOLD Pier has been put up for sale for £6m.

Owners Stephen and Antonia Bournes have decided to sell the coastal landmark because they cannot commit to a £5m hotel extension.

SOUTHWOLD Pier has been put up for sale for £6m.

Owners Stephen and Antonia Bournes have decided to sell the coastal landmark because they cannot commit to a £5m hotel extension.

They will today put the pier on the market after getting planning permission for an Art Deco-style hotel in place of the pier's existing pavilion.

The 30-bedroom luxury hotel was originally due to cost £2-£3m but, with the project now estimated at £5m, it is no longer financially viable for the couple, who have two teenage sons.

Mr Bournes said they could not cover the necessary 40pc of a loan, plus conditions, and could not foresee that the banking situation would change. He said they also did not want to take on a business partner.

“I'm very sad because it's a fantastic project, the first in the country, all the tourist boards are very positive and behind it and we have a great team to make it happen,” said Mr Bournes.

“I just feel it's the time to duck out. We have taken the long-term view that we have two boys aged 13 and 15 and I would have to work flat out for 10 years to secure it.”

The pier is the second biggest employer in Southwold with a workforce of 45 full time staff, which rises to 95 in the summer season. Employees were told about the sale on Monday.

Planning permission for the hotel was given last December and the project was three years in the making.

Mr Bournes, who bought the pier in March 2005, hopes the new owner will build the five-storey hotel as soon as possible because a lot of the facilities are in need of renovation.

“We decided it's too much of a big project for us,” he said.

“But it's a fantastic project and really does bring the pier into its own and secures local employment, with steady business through the winter.

“It is really important for everything to go ahead and we want someone to carry on with it. It's crucial for the pier to go forward very quickly.”

Since taking the pier on, the Bournes' have transformed it into a thriving attraction, with gift shops, a restaurant, cafes, and an arcade of alternative slot machines by engineer and artist Tim Hunkin.

Mr Bournes said that costs including fortification of the sea wall had added to the overall estimated spend on the extension.

He added that, in the future, he would like to put a percentage of the money from the sale into his own business and a proportion towards starting up a professionally-run charity project.

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