Birnbeck ownership debate still raging
- Credit: Archant
THE future of Birnbeck Pier has become more unclear this week after fresh doubts were raised over who owns the site.
Businessman Wahid Samady has long been linked with the heritage site and exchanged contracts 18 months ago with Urban Splash to buy it.
However, despite Mr Samady’s denials, the Liverpool-based firm claims he has yet to sign the deal.
Rumours have been circulating for some time that Mr Samady had not signed the contract but he spoke of his ‘bemusement’ at the whispers, just a fortnight ago.
Instead he said he was ‘frustrated’ at councillors for hindering his regeneration plans and called for the public to debate what it wants from the rebuilt pier. However, Urban Splash director Nathan Cornish has since told the Mercury that the deal is still not finalised and is taking longer to complete than normal.
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He said: “We still own the pier. We have exchanged contracts with CNM Estates and it has a period of time within which to sign.
“It is in his (Mr Samady’s) control if he goes ahead with the transaction or not. We are still in that time period so if he wants to sign tomorrow he can.
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“We clearly hope he goes ahead with it. At the moment we are still the owners and we want to find a solution.”
Mr Samady’s plans to regenerate the Birnbeck area have so far been kept under wraps. A select few councillors have seen them but only after promising not to reveal them.
It is widely believed he wants to build a mix of residential and commercial properties around Birnbeck, some of which he admits would block views from the Prince Consort Gardens.
The profit made on those would then go towards rebuilding the pier, a job Mr Samady believes will cost £10-20million.
Mr Cornish said Urban Splash entered into discussions with Mr Samady because it knew he wanted to add the pier to his plans for the area.
He added: “We just want to see a solution. Clearly the property industry is a difficult place at the moment.
“Normally, if it was a straightforward piece of land it would be much quicker than this, but this is much more complicated. It shouldn’t take this long normally but given the complicated nature of it I’m not surprised.”
Mr Samady said Mr Cornish was incorrect to say he had not signed, but admitted the deal had not yet been completed.
He said: “It has been signed. It has 100 per cent been signed. Done and dusted.
“We have contracted to purchase the pier from Urban Splash on an unconditional basis. We have paid a substantial amount of money already.
“CNM Estates, at any time of its choosing, can take ownership of the pier.”
Mr Samady said he did not understand the public’s interest in the commercial deal between him and Urban Splash when asked outright by the Mercury who currently owns Birnbeck.
An RNLI spokesman said the organisation has been instructed to contact Urban Splash should crews need maintenance work done to the pier.
Mr Samady said a joint statement from Urban Splash and CNM Estates would be prepared in the coming days to clarify the situation.