Hopes high for £23m Birnbeck rescue bid
A DECAYING Weston landmark could be saved from collapsing into the sea thanks to a £23million lottery bid. Historic Birnbeck Pier will be restored to its former glory and reopened to the public if the
A DECAYING Weston landmark could be saved from collapsing into the sea thanks to a £23million lottery bid.Historic Birnbeck Pier will be restored to its former glory and reopened to the public if the Heritage Lottery Fund bid is successful.The bid is being prepared by the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, made up of representatives from various bodies including North Somerset Council, Weston Town Council, the Friends of the Old Pier Society, the Prince's Trust and Weston Trust. The group, set up 18 months ago by North Somerset Council to find a way of securing the future of the pier, is confident of getting the funding.Councillor Robert Payne, who represents Weston Town Council on the trust, said: "This is the last chance for Birnbeck Pier. I think there is a good chance we will get the funding for the project. These are all respected national organisations involved and people take them seriously."The project would involve restoring what is left of the pier and replacing any parts already beyond repair. English Heritage has supported the trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund, a charity which promotes the conservation of historic buildings, has provided funding and advice.Cllr Payne said: "The trust believes the pier's future cannot be secured in the private sector."It has had several private owners over the last 30 years, none of whom have been able to do anything with it."We hope to take ownership of the pier through a negotiated purchase. If that is not successful we will look at getting a compulsory purchase order, but that will be investigated nearer the time."The ongoing maintenance of the pier also has significant costs. We have to demonstrate it will be able to support itself in the long term. There is ongoing discussion how to do this but it will probably involve some businesses being run on or near the pier."We are aware of the RNLI's concerns about the state of its launching ramp on the pier and we hope to get the work done and keep the station there."Weston Town Council agreed on Monday to give the Trust a grant of £1,500 to cover its administration costs and keep it afloat while the lottery application is being prepared.The bid will be submitted later in the year. If it is approved, work to restore the pier, which is currently owned by the White Horse Ferries company, is expected to take up to three years to complete.