Birnbeck Pier to be inspected by engineers

Birnbeck Pier.

Birnbeck Pier. - Credit: Archant

SPECIALISTS will this month examine Birnbeck’s buckling jetty and rusting walkway to establish what short-term work can be done to prevent the historic landmark crumbling and falling into the sea.

The pier’s owners CNM Estates has instructed property consultants Colliers International to continue to evaluate how the pier can be saved, although the Mercury has been told keeping the pier’s main walkway intact is the number one priority.

Both parties describe the damage to the north jetty as ‘incremental only’ but it has led to fresh criticism from the public about a lack of action

CNM Estates completed a deal to buy Birnbeck from Urban Splash in late-October. The Mercury can exclusively reveal that CNM Estates paid £500,000 for the site, which remains on English Heritage’s at risk register.

Since completion, Colliers has been appointed to evaluate the need for any short-term repairs to the pier and also bring a long-term solution to the table.

Chris Dawson, a director for Colliers, said an initial engineering survey was carried out in November and a follow-up inspection of the pier will take place this month.

He said: “The north jetty’s condition is clear for people to see. The mains focus must be the pier.”

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CNM Estates chairman Wahid Samady said a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to protect the pier and bring about a regeneration project – including getting Colliers to meet key stakeholders such as the Friends Of The Old Pier Society and discussing funding options with English Heritage.

He said: “This is a great town and we need to mobilise as a community as to how to make this all work. Their (the campaigners’) energy is an opportunity.

“One thing is for sure, everyone wants a solution. We may all have different views but everyone including the council, ourselves, the public and politicians want to find a solution.

“It’s not going to be magically saved.”

The businessman said Birnbeck’s current perilous state is not all down to him.

He added: “Maintenance issues have not come in the past two months (since we took over ownership), but the last 30 years.”

Critics however will no doubt point out CNM Estates struck a deal with Urban Splash more than three years ago and Mr Samady publicly claimed to be the pier’s owner, before the deal was completed.

CNM Estates went public in 2013 with a multi-million pound scheme which included building apartments on the pier and blocks of flats on the foreshore. However North Somerset Council members and planning officials advised CNM Estates the proposal was too big for the area and a planning application was never submitted.

Mr Samady hasagain called for people to approach CNM with their ideas for the site, because without a consensus over the pier’s long-term future, the project will not progress.