Bell Cornwell LLP has secured planning permission for a scheme involving the restoration of a derelict Victorian Totland Pier, reopening of the pier to the public and erection of a unique holiday dwelling on the seaward end. The scheme also involved the replacement of the pier cafe and formation of a retail unit on the land end of the pier.
The pier was originally constructed in 1880 primarily as a landing stage for steamers running from the mainland and continued to be used by Trinity House for as a base for pilot boats responsible for guiding liners through the Needles Channel. Trinity House sold the pier in 1975 and the pier structure fell into serious decline and finally closed to the public in 1980 when the pier was declared unsafe. In the 1990s the pier was purchased by a local artist who converted the hut at the end of the pier to an artist studio and used the bunk room in the hut as occasional living accommodation.
Despite initial opposition from the Council, Bell Cornwell worked closely with the local community and Parish Council who were supportive of the scheme from the outset realising the benefits to the economy of Totland and seeing the structure restored and reopened to the public.
Bell Cornwell was able to demonstrate to the Council that the artist studio and ancillary living accommodation had operated in excess of 10 years, thereby establishing the lawfulness of residential accommodation on the pier. On this basis, the Environment Agency agreed to the replacement of this accommodation by a holiday dwelling subject to being satisfied that a safe means of escape from the dwelling to dry land in an extreme weather event could be provided. Working closely with flood and structural engineers, Bell Cornwell was able to demonstrate that a safe means of escape could be provided and that the pier house would withstand the most severe wave and storm conditions, taking into account predicted sea level rises. Bell Cornwell was also able to demonstrate that without the revenue from the holiday unit the scheme would not be viable.
Bell Cornwell also secured the necessary licence from the Marine Management Organisation to carry out the works to the pier and prepared the Section 106 agreement relating to the opening of the pier to the public and the phasing of the development.