Talks over old pier as cash problems surface

PUBLISHED: 08:00 06 May 2011

(click on image for larger view)Birnbeck Pier.

(click on image for larger view)Birnbeck Pier.


TALKS are taking place about the future of a historic Weston site – amid news that its long-awaited restoration has run into financial difficulties.

Developer Urban Splash has been holding meetings with North Somerset Council, English Heritage, the Friends of the Old Pier Society and the RNLI to try and find a way to fund the Birnbeck Pier project.

Architectural company Levitate won the contract to design a new pier and island three years ago, but much of the site has remained derelict since.

Despite some remedial work being carried out, there has been no sign of the major redevelopment project the town has been waiting for.

This week Urban Splash revealed to the 
Mercury that it is meeting with key groups to find a solution to the funding for the project, with the recession and economic difficulties of the past few years having taken its toll on the scheme.

Despite rumours that the project will be scaled down, Urban Splash associate director James Howard has given his assurances that his company is still committed to the Levitate scheme, which includes holiday flats, posh restaurants and family-friendly facilities.

The company won the contract after Urban Splash ran an international competition for people to come up with bright ideas for revamping Birnbeck Pier and island.

The winning team’s design also included plans to create a ‘complimentary alternative’ to the town’s busy seafront, where visitors can explore rock pools, bird watch and see the sun rise over the coast.

There were also proposals to construct two linear buildings at the end of the main pier, which could contain a mixture of residential and leisure facilities like a hotel and holiday flats.

Mr Howard said: “We are working with the stakeholders to find a solution to the funding of the restoration of the pier and its long-term future.

“Birnbeck has always been a project with a long time span due to its complexities, which has been extended further by the recession 
and economic uncertainty of the past few years.”

In the past three years there have been rumours of the site being unofficially up for sale, but the Mercury understands this is no longer being considered as an option.

Levitate director Spencer Guy says he is in regular contact with Urban Splash.

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