PART of a major facelift for Bournemouth Pier has been given the green light despite concerns from a planning officer who said “Bournemouth isn’t the same as Blackpool”.

The proposal to replace the existing large screen on the front of RockReef with a new digital display were tabled by pier operators Openwide International Ltd.

BCP Council’s planning officers have approved the application under delegated powers with a condition limiting when the screen can be illuminated and show moving images.

Openwide International Ltd said the current screen was in “desperate need of replacement”, with it unreadable at times. The proposal would involve a “six-figure” investment, the company said.

The application was supported by the National Piers Society, a charity dedicated to promoting the preservation of seaside piers, and the council’s tourism team.

A report by a local authority planning officer said they previously had a reservation about the “highly overt display” which was being proposed.

Bournemouth Echo: The proposed elevation with the new screen at Bournemouth PierThe proposed elevation with the new screen at Bournemouth Pier (Image: OpenWide International)

“I consider that there needs to be a balance as Bournemouth isn’t the same as Blackpool especially because of the heritage and natural beauty of the sea views,” the report said.

“During the height of the summer and during the day I do not consider that the impact would be significant.

“Therefore I have suggested that we restrict the times of display and the level of illumination.”

The approval of the plan included a condition that the screen should be switched on fully from 8am to 11pm from April 1 to October 31 and November 17 to December 31.

For the rest of the year it can be used fully Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 6pm and for static material with no moving or flashing images between 6pm and 8pm, while on Fridays and Saturdays it can be in full operation from 8am to 11pm.

The planning consent was issued for a three-year period so the council can review the situation after this period.

The officer’s report said: “The display will be much more overt and lively than the previous proposal and will dominate this heritage asset.

“Bournemouth does not have lots of amusement arcades on the promenade so the display will note merge into a highly illuminate area. However, the tourism officer is very supportive and has made the point that the RockReef tourist venue and pier café need to be successful as a function of the pier.

“During the summer period a lively display in this location is appropriate. My concern was that out of season something less overt would be appropriate. The applicant has agreed to some reduction in hours.”