Birnbeck Regeneration Trust hails major milestone in saving the decaying pier

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 June 2017

Birnbeck Pier.

Birnbeck Pier.

Archant

The fight to preserve and regenerate Weston-super-Mare’s Birnbeck Pier has taken ‘a major step forward’ as North Somerset Council has agreed to support a charity’s efforts to save the decaying structure.

Buildings on Birnbeck Island are slowly collapsing.Buildings on Birnbeck Island are slowly collapsing.

The pier was closed in 1994 and has been in a state of decline ever since. Its walkway is unsafe to use, and the listed buildings are falling apart.

The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust has been working since 2004 to restore the pier, but has struggled to gain support from the council.

Its efforts have also been hampered by Birnbeck being in private hands, preventing the Trust from securing vital funding from heritage bodies.

However, the Trust has this week announced it now has support from the council and heritage bodies to start applying for funding for the £16.2million project.

Project director Richie Griffin said: “It has taken the Trust from January 2015 to now for us all to be pushing in the same direction.

“We had to build confidence from Historic England and the council that we are a Trust capable of taking this project forward.

“This is the furthest the Trust has ever been towards securing a future for the pier.”

Neglect and the elements have taken their toll on the island's former theatre.Neglect and the elements have taken their toll on the island's former theatre.

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Mr Griffin said the owner, CNM Estates, will provide the Trust with the 99-year lease required by Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund to get the grants it needs.

The council support is critical to the Trust, which would have struggled to get lottery funding without it.

The next stage will be for the Trust to secure around £200,000 in resilient heritage grants.

Mr Griffin said: “Using this, the Trust can build itself to be a stronger body and be funding-ready.

The pier's north jetty is unsafe and set to be demolished.The pier's north jetty is unsafe and set to be demolished.

“We can make sure we have the right people with the right skills to take on a major project.”

In a document published in May, the council said the redevelopment of Birnbeck is ‘paramount’ to the overall regeneration of Weston and would create a ‘much-needed attraction in that end of town’.

David Carter, the council’s director of development, said: “Birnbeck is an important site and we are very supportive of the Trust’s commitment to saving it for the benefit of current and future generations.”


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