Plans to enhance and modernise the Ilfracombe Pier entrance have been unveiled along with new bookings kiosks.
North Devon Council intends to make major improvements to the entrance by demolishing the 1950s kiosks, widening the road and removing the mini roundabout.
The council has already taken delivery of new kiosks for boat operators to sell trips to visitors – but these plans have not gone down well with everyone.
During the renovation the council also intends to upgrade the old Victorian pipe work that provides fresh water to the pier.
A wider vision for the pier drawn up by Peregrine Mears Architects could see some sort of decorative gateway entrance to the pier, as well as making the pier more pedestrian friendly by creating a walkway that goes all the way around.
It is also proposed to create a new path up Lantern Hill behind Ilfracombe Aquarium that would add to the experience for visitors.
Harbourmaster Georgina Carlo-Paat said: “I think this is the way forward, bringing it into the modern era but keeping the historical aspect of it, incorporating the new and old, which other places have shown so well.”
The council said it had also upgraded the trading licenses for the boat operators who used the harbour, whereas before people were on different sorts of leases and had to tender for a license.
It said now they offer open trading for five years, putting everyone on an equal footing and enabling operators to sell other items from the booths as well as third party services such as tickets for the Dotto Land Train.
Andrew Bengey, the skipper of Obsession II, one of three operators who run boats under the Ilfracombe Boat Trips umbrella, welcomed the changes.
He said: “I think the new booths are great because it’s given everybody a level playing field.
“Because we had to tender each year, you never knew if you were going to get a license.
“I think this will bring the whole new concept the harbourmaster is trying to push forward, to bring more people to the area and make it a far better experience.”
Dave Hutchings of Ilfracombe Sea Safari said the new booths were a ‘massive improvement’ on what they’d had before.
He said: “They are a lot more visual and make it easier for people to find us. They are extremely well built and they allow us to design our own graphics on the side.”