Alex Ross, Reporter
Friday, February 4, 2011
DEVELOPERS wanting to regenerate Weston’s dilapidated Birnbeck Pier have been accused this week of ‘papering over cracks’ by a pier conservationist.
Urban Splash unveiled big plans for the ailing structure including homes, a hotel and leisure facilities after buying it in 2006.
But five years on, only work to repair one of the pier’s corroded trestles has been done, and that was thanks to a cash grant from English Heritage.
This week, the developer began work to repair security hoardings at the entrance to the pier and replace the roof to the attached Pier View shop.
A spokesman said: “This was always going to be a long-term project and given the current state of the economy, it’s going to take even longer.”
But Weston resident and committee member of the National Piers Society, Mike Davies, has hit out at the firm, saying it is not doing enough to protect and restore the structure.
He said: “They have had this pier for years and years, and what have they done? Hardly anything.
“There is so much potential for the former attraction, but Urban Splash are just sitting on it, carrying out tiny bits of work they are not even paying for.
“I’ve been fighting for this pier since 1986 and, frankly, very little has happened.”
Mr Davies has called on the developer to repair the 13 other corroded trestles to the structure.
But, he admits, nothing is likely to happen if the firm will not get any money out of it in the short term.
The pier has been closed to the public since 1994 and it is included on English Heritage’s ‘buildings at risk’ register.
The Grade II listed structure was opened in 1867 and is the only British pier which links the mainland to an island.
A spokesman for Urban Splash added: “We are undertaking some repairs to the hoardings as well as a general tidy.
“In addition, we are refurbishing the roof to Pier View which has left it exposed to the weather.
“Both are essential repair and maintenance works which should be finished shortly.”