Plans to restore a crumbling Somerset pier to its former glory have taken another step forward.

Weston-super-Mare’s dilapidated Birnbeck Pier was bought by North Somerset Council in July, with the £400k purchase funded by the RNLI who want to build a new lifeboat station on the island. Now the council is putting contracts out to market for the multi-million restoration work.

Council leader Mike Bell told the council executive meeting on Wednesday February 7 where the plans were signed off: “Its incredible when you think about the century long-life of Birnbeck, and its felt as through for a long time its been in a state of uncertainty and deterioration, and here we are only six months on from the council acquiring the pier with our partners, RNLI and others, and we are moving forwards already with the next phase of the programme.”

He added: “I hope that it gives some confidence to the community that we are really determined to drive forward this landmark project and hopefully breathe new life into Birnbeck for years to come.

The three contracts will cover safety works such as to repair sea walls and remove asbestos, and restoring buildings both on the landside of the pier and on the island. Funding for the project has been secured from the government’s Levelling Up Fund, and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Work to restore the pier walkway itself will be commissioned by the RNLI itself, aided by funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Historic England.

The contract for advance safety works is planned to begin in May, but the two contracts for restoration works are not set to begin until October 2024 and January 2026.

Hutton councillor Terry Porter urged the council to “speed it up a bit.” He warned: “Its getting very bad as time goes on.”

Mark Canniford, the council’s executive member for spatial planning, placemaking, and economy, said: “Of course council has to adhere by its own rules through heritage and planning processes, so we will do the work as fast as we can.”

He added that the funding for the landside works ran out in a year, so “the pressure is on.”

The Victorian pier was designed by Eugenius Birch and is the only pier in the country to connect to an island, but has been sat dilapidated and deteriorating since the 1990s.