Building start date for former hotel site ‘very optimistic’

An artist's impression of what the new apartments would look like.

An artist's impression of what the new apartments would look like. - Credit: Archant

PLANS to start building new apartments on the former Royal Pier Hotel site in July have been labelled a ‘fantasy’ and face being blocked by the council.

Wahid Samady, chairman of developer CNM Estates, said he is ‘hopeful’ his multi-million pound project will start soon, despite owing more than £100,000 of taxpayers’ money to North Somerset Council after it tore down the fire-ravaged hotel in 2010.

Not only does the company have that outstanding six-figure demolition bill to pay, it has yet to meet any of the 13 planning requirements it needs to, before construction work can begin.

Mr Samady refused to openly discuss his debt when challenged by the Mercury and critics have hit out at his lack of action.

Planning permission was granted in September 2011 to convert the derelict hotel wasteland into 63 apartments, cafes and shops, subject to conditions which must be met otherwise the council can force the work to stop.

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None of the 13 conditions that must be adhered to before building work starts have been completed and the council say a July start is ‘very optimistic’.

Cllr John Crockford-Hawley said: “I think Weston has become rather cynically disposed towards Mr Samady and his fantasies.

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“When the uninsured hotel caught fire Mr Samady took no steps to demolish what was left of an increasingly dangerous structure, leaving North Somerset Council to take urgent action in the interests of public safety.

“Local ratepayers funded this work and Mr Samady has still not settled the outstanding account. It is not for local government to act the role of virtual banker to speculative property developers.”

CNM Estates still owes £102,959 plus interest to the authority after it paid for the site in Birnbeck Road to be demolished nearly four years ago.

The council has issued a statutory demand for the money and been awarded a court order ensuring it gets its money, if CNM Estates decides to sell up in the meantime.

The Mercury can also exclusively reveal the firm has not paid the authority more than £1,800 for its pre-planning application advice regarding its proposed development of Birnbeck Pier.

Cllr Crockford-Hawley said: “I very much doubt he’ll be able to proceed in the immediate future, though having been a constant critic of the overpowering 10-storey block proposal I hope he’ll never be in a position to build.

“In this respect blame must lie with those planning officers and councillors who pressed approval for this particular scheme.”

Mr Samady said he remains committed to the project, which is due to be completed by January 2016 according to CNM Estates.

He added: “I’m not commenting any further about the debt.

“I’ve put more than £2million of my own money into the scheme. If people think there is a lack of commitment then they are wrong.”

A council spokesman said for all pre-construction conditions to be met on the hotel site, it would take at least a couple of months. The conditions affect a variety of building issues ranging from landscaping to energy sources.

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