Council to explore possibility of Birnbeck Pier purchase
PUBLISHED: 15:14 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:51 05 February 2020
North Somerset Council could buy Birnbeck Pier after agreeing to explore the potential of a compulsory purchase order this afternoon (Wednesday).
Officers will prepare for making a compulsory purchase order for 'the pier and the associated land holding' after the authority's executive voted in favour of the proposed way forward, which could take up to two years.
A compulsory purchase order is a legal function in the United Kingdom and Ireland which allows certain bodies to obtain land or property without the consent of the owner.
A repairs notice was served to the private owner of the pier, CNM Estates, in September 2019, advising the proprietor that repair work must take place.
Since then, no substantive proposal for repairs or any evidence of action being taken was received by the council.
Historic England has allocated a grant to the council of £127,000 to investigate options and seek potential partners.
The council wants partners to come forward and work towards a long-term solution.
Speaking at the meeting, deputy leader Mike Bell said: "This is the beginning of exploring the compulsory purchase order and finding partners from the private or voluntary sector to work with us.
"We are serious and committed to make things happen and we want a sustainable future for the pier and island."
The council agreed to take steps with interested parties 'to seek to acquire the necessary interests in land by agreement, including negotiation of headline terms, undertakings, transfers and any new rights required'.
The executive also agreed to engage with any party with an interest in Birnbeck Pier with a view to securing agreement for its preservation.
The grade-II listed pier's condition is deteriorating and consequently it is a top priority on Historic England's heritage at risk national register.
It is considered to be a nationally important structure which is 'at imminent risk of being lost because of neglect, decay or inappropriate development'.
The purchase order will be submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation.
The Secretary of State will have to be satisfied there is a compelling case in the public interest generally for the compulsory purchase to proceed.
For more reaction, pick up a copy of next week's Mercury.