Hotel developer has given '1,000 days of false promises'
PUBLISHED: 09:31 27 August 2014 | UPDATED: 11:04 27 August 2014
DEVELOPERS planning to transform the former Royal Pier Hotel site into apartments are wrongly claiming to prospective buyers the project is 'under construction'.
The land, yards from the crumbling Birnbeck Pier, remains untouched since North Somerset Council paid more than £100,000 to demolish the building decimated by fire in 2010 – a fee owners CNM Estates are still to repay.
Critics of company chairman Wahid Samady have called on him to ‘tell the truth’ following a string of broken promises.
North Somerset councillor John Crockford-Hawley said planning officers were ‘weak and under pressure’ to show Weston is open for business, when the go-ahead was given for 63 apartments in 2011.
He added: “It is not unusual for plans to change as major development proposals progress but in CNM Estates’ case nothing has moved beyond an initial pipe dream.
“Mr Samady’s marketing hype for the sale of desirable apartments is laughable as nothing has happened in three years.
“We have had 1,000 days of false promises. It’s time he told the truth.”
CNM Estates claims on its website the project is ‘under construction’ and directs possible buyers towards its sales department, ahead of a projected January 2016 completion date.
However work has not started and the firm cannot legally start building because conditions set out during the planning permission stage have not yet been met.
North Somerset Council says it would take about eight weeks for the paperwork to be completed – if Mr Samady submitted the relevant documents immediately.
Mr Samady refused to comment or provide any indication of when building work may begin when asked by the Mercury yesterday (Wed).
Cllr Crockford-Hawley added: “Some councillors who are no longer in office, along with some very senior councillors still in office, two of whom now run the planning system, forced through this application for an utterly inappropriate 10-storey block.”
The Mercury understands CNM Estates is due to pay its last instalment for Birnbeck Pier in the autumn, thus finalising its purchase from Urban Splash.
Mr Samady wants to build about 20 villas on the island and a further 170 apartments jutting off the mainland.
But Cllr Crockford-Hawley does not believe the pier has a bright future.
He said: “Mr Samady’s computer-generated game is just that - a game to get planning approval for more flats. It has nothing to do with the pier itself.
“I have said time and again that Birnbeck Pier will soon fall into the sea, unless the entire structure is handed to a charitable trust with potential for major national Heritage Lottery Funding.
“There is just no other way to solve this problem and the to-ing and fro-ing between dilatory politicians in Westminster and Weston Town Hall has achieved nothing beyond sanitised press statements.”