Casino plan for pier fire resort - Saturday 22nd of October 2005

Proposals to create a regional casino at a holiday resort where a big fire damaged part of its landmark pier have been revealed.

Southend Pier was badly damaged on 9 October and there are fears delays in its restoration could have an effect on the Essex towns tourist industry.

Regeneration company Renaissance Southend revealed plans to bring £200m in investment and 1,000 jobs by 2020.

Part of the proposal is a large conference, hotel and casino complex.

On Friday, the companys chief executive Mike Lambert said: "The seafront and its kiss-me-quick image needs updating in order that we can respond to changing demands and expectations."

The plans also include improvements to three seafront zones:

Western Esplanade - redevelopment of the cliffs

Eastern Esplanade - entertainment for the 24 to 25 age group

Central Zone - family entertainment focused on a fully restored pier

During the fire the pier deck, a rail station, a pub, an amusement arcade and several shops were destroyed and fell into the sea.

Repairs to the pier are expected to cost millions and it may not be open in time for next years summer season.

At 1.34 miles (2.16km), Southend Pier is the longest pleasure pier in the world.

Renaissance Southend is one of 21 Urban Regeneration Companies approved by the government.

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