Tourist attraction will re-open in Spring 2012 featuring a new cultural centre

Southend-on-Sea council has given the go-ahead to a new cultural centre planned for the end of the town’s historic pier.

The structure is the longest pleasure pier in the world, and will re-open to the public in spring 2012.

Plans for the pier head were drawn up by Scandinavian architect White Arkitekter in partnership with UK-based architect Sprunt and structural engineer Price & Myers.

Originally constructed in the Victorian era, the 1.34 mile long, grade-II listed structure has survived fires, boat crashes, two world wars and economic decline, as well as a series of design alterations.

White’s design comprises a 364m2 cultural centre built on the surviving cast iron columns of the pier head. It will include a multi-purpose space, a 40m2 artist’s studio, a dining area and ancillary accommodation.   

The renovations will also feature a ramped timber walkway made of the same FSC-certified tropical wood as the existing decking, and a terrace arranged on a series of levels to form a 100-seater amphitheatre.  

Fredrik Pettersson, project architect at White Arkitekter said: “Our aim is to create a building which fully utilises the beauty of the pier and the Thames estuary, placing the pier firmly in the memory of the people who visit it.”

Southend-on-Sea council’s executive councillor for culture and tourism, Derek Jarvis, said: “I am delighted the pier redevelopment plans have been approved by the Development Control Committee.

“The new cultural centre will restore the pier to former glories and firmly re-establish it as one of region’s most iconic landmarks.”