No land deal until hotel owner pays demolition bill
PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 January 2013
A £100,000 bill for the demolition of Weston’s Royal Pier Hotel has still not been paid - two years after the landmark was pulled down.
North Somerset Council has this week written to site owner Wahid Samady to demand reimbursement for its outlay after 2010’s fire.
The authority had to pay to have the gutted hotel pulled down to make the area safe, but has yet to recoup its costs from Mr Samady.
The businessman – who wants to redevelop the hotel site and neighbouring Birnbeck Pier – declined to comment on his plans to settle the £102,939 debt, but describes the amount as ‘a drop in the ocean’ compared to money he plans to spend on the site.
However, critics say the unpaid bill casts doubt on his ability to come good on a multi-million pound site regeneration which he has so far kept tightly under wraps.
North Somerset has also put a stop on Mr Samady purchasing another piece of seafront land until the debt is paid.
He was set to purchase a small area of land near the car park that could be included within approved plans for the former hotel site, but the Mercury understands this has now been put on hold.
And Mr Samady has hit out at critics of his scheme for leaking news of the unpaid debt.
Mr Samady said: “People are feeding false and malicious stories to the media and it is despicable that this group wants to make a news story out of everything.
“I am intent on restoring Birnbeck Pier and surrounding land. But we have spent a year going around in circles.
“If the public says ‘this is not befitting’ or ‘it’s horrible’ when the plans are revealed then fair enough.
“We have to stop this circle of negativity.
“In order to refurbish the pier or prevent it falling into the Channel it is going to cost £10million.
“I can’t fund that, so in order to provide £10million of extra profit, well you don’t need to be a genius to work out the scale of what the development needs to be.”
Mr Samady refused to comment on the money he is said to owe North Somerset Council.
But added: “It is a drop in the ocean compared to the serious millions I have invested.”
The blueprint for the huge regeneration of the Birnbeck Road pier and hotel includes apartments, restaurants and an information centre.
Mr Samady, along with business partner Michael Ross, has exchanged contracts with Urban Splash for Birnbeck Pier, but new, combined plans for both sites have so far been kept under wraps.
North Somerset councillor John Crockford-Hawley, who represents the Birnbeck Road area, said: “I find it quite extraordinary that the council has recently agreed to sell a piece of promenade to Mr Samady, despite opposition from the three ward councillors, to help facilitate the building of his inappropriately large block of flats.
“As from this past weekend the prospective purchaser is on formal notice of debt.
“I believe political pressure is being applied at this end of town by those who want to see ‘something happen.”
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