RNLI granted consent for Birnbeck Pier work while owners press ahead with improvements
- Credit: Archant
The RNLI has had its listed building consent application to improve Birnbeck Pier approved by North Somerset Council.
This consent was needed so the charity could can carry out investigatory works.
The investigation will establish the condition of some aspects of the structure and to confirm the information the charity already had.
As part of its plan, the RNLI will restore the pier and build a new lifeboat station, training facility and other operational buildings required.
The council intends to use its legal powers to compulsory purchase the pier site from its current owners, CNM Estates, as part of a back-to-back deal, immediately transferring the property to the RNLI.
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Last month, the council served a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to the pier’s private owners, but CNM said it will contest the order.
It is likely the legal challenge will delay the CPO process which, when finalised, would see the council transfer ownership of the pier to the RNLI so it can resume life-saving operations from there for the first time since 2013.
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A spokesman for CNM Estates told the Mercury: “The RNLI has requested to seek our permission to carry out some surveying works pursuant to the application they have had approved.
“As the owner, we would be willing to give consent for this, subject to a limited works license being agreed, which our lawyers are currently negotiating with the RNLI and its lawyers. The RNLI has confirmed that no actual survey works will commence until our formal consent is given.
“Having been in previously detailed conversation with the RNLI during 2019 and even discussing heads of terms in regards to the pier’s future, we welcome any collaboration with them and want to pick-up the conversation to ensure the expedient repair work takes place as soon as possible and the regeneration of the area is finally delivered. To avoid any misunderstanding, we have written to RNLI trustees setting out our position.
“As we have made clear throughout, CNM Estates recognises the importance of Birnbeck Pier and, given its significance, will continue to welcome dialogue with stakeholders, on a constructive and realistic basis.”
MORE: RNLI submits Pier plans.
CNM is pressing on with measures required for repair works to preserve and start the process of bringing Birnbeck Pier back to life.
CNM submitted a planning application to refurbish and preserve the site in August.
It is working with the council to get the planning application for the phase one works agreed. The council has requested more information to enable the determination, which CNM has provided.
CNM has also already agreed three extensions requested by the council for the determination of the application to allow works to commence, which it hopes can begin prior to the winter weather, which will adversely impact progress and further slow things down.
CNM has assembled a specialist project team which is now developing its programme of works following the survey.
In addition to other works delivered since April, Se Surveying has undertaken a 3D measured laser survey of the pier, which is informing the design work that engineers are working on in regards to immediate repairs on parts of the pier that have historically been inaccessible.
The survey has allowed the project team to uncover detailed information that will inform the immediate high-priority repair works and support any future repairs.
This is the latest in a number of site milestones, which include design development work and structural inspections. CNM is awaiting a determination on its listed building repairs application for the site.
CNM’s spokesman added: “We are moving forward with a specialist project team that has extensive experience in repairing heritage assets to repair and restore Birnbeck Pier.
“In the meantime, we are pushing forward and are awaiting approval for our repair works application, which will secure crucial repairs, including bracing the legs of the pier. Any delay in approving this application will push back the start of works into winter and may result in further representation by CNM to the recently reported appeal process regarding the CPO.
“We are hopeful we can commence the repair works as soon as the planning application is determined – we believe there is no reason why these works should not be approved and our planning consultant will be writing to the council again to try and move things forward.”