Report by Charlotte Richardson , chief reporter
Friday, September 30, 2011
A JOINT task force could be set up to support the new owners of Birnbeck Pier in turning their vision for the historic site into a reality.
Last week the Mercury exclusively revealed how businessmen Wahid Samady and Michael Ross have exchanged contracts for the Weston landmark.
North Somerset Council deputy leader, Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, has already met with Mr Samady and suggested the idea of setting up a task force of interested parties, as happened with the Grand Pier rebuild two years ago.
He has also discussed the idea with council officers and they envisage a group involving English Heritage, the Environment Agency, Weston MP and Minister for Tourism John Penrose, ward members and the Friends of the Old Pier Society being involved.
Cllr AP Rees added: “I very much hope that after previous false starts that this time we can collectively pull it off.”
Mr Samady and Mr Ross say they are ‘on a mission’ and have given themselves 60 days to crystallise their vision for the landmark, its island and land at the shore end, before they submit a planning application.
They insist there will be no ‘hanging around’ and the next two months will be the time spent consulting with interested parties, before the project moves on in leaps and bounds.
Mr Samady is also behind the plans for a major leisure and residential complex called Birnbeck Peninsula, next to the pier, just part of the £200million portfolio he says he is working on.
He and Mr Ross acquired the Birnbeck site from Urban Splash, which admitted to key stakeholders at a meeting over the summer that it would need a major financial injection from elsewhere to carry out basic work at the site.