Latest pier plans may obstruct views
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 May 2012
LATEST plans to redevelop a crumbling landmark could adversely affect some of the best views in Weston – it has been claimed.
Both English Heritage and North Somerset Council have raised concerns that Wahid Samady’s plans for Birnbeck Pier could impact on the views from the historical Prince Consort Gardens.
The gardens were planted in the 1860s in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Consort Albert and are a popular site for both visitors and locals.
Pier co-owner Wahid Samady said he ‘refused to be drawn’ this week on whether concerns have been raised by either body, but says he does not believe his proposals would impact adversely on the views.
Mr Samady has kept his plans close to his chest since drawing them up earlier this year, showing them only to members of official bodies and selected councillors.
The businessman, who also owns the nearby Royal Pier Hotel in Birnbeck Road, has said that one of his main objectives is to maintain the quality of views from key areas in the town.
His plans involve a rebuild of the former hotel site, which was destroyed by fire.
But the Mercury understands North Somerset Council has also raised concerns that his proposed building work would block views of the pier from part of the Weston end of the toll road.
Council executive member for strategic planning, Elfan Ap Rees, says he is keen to see discussions continue, even though he feels the issues are unlikely to be ironed out ‘in the near future’.
Cllr Ap Rees said: “The plans have to fit with English Heritage desires and fit in with residents in that area.
“However the development has also got to be profitable for the developer.
“I am encouraging discussion along these lines, but it is difficult for the two objectives to meet and I can’t see this being resolved any time soon.
“Meanwhile I am keen for those living in the area near the pier to know that we would not sanction, let’s say hypothetically, a tower block of flats.
“Certainly we need to retain decent views from Prince Consort Gardens and not allow development to encroach on this open space.”
Ecology and marine life surveys have been carried out at the Weston landmark.
Mr Samady says he will keep the images for the seafront area close to his chest until he knows he can fulfil the grand scheme, but has revealed the proposals include a mixture of residential and commercial use.
The council is currently looking to the Heritage Lottery Fund for grants to help refurbish the pier, but Mr Samady believes his scheme can be carried through on different scales depending on how successful that is.
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