Council could use compulsory purchase order to buy Birnbeck Pier
- Credit: Archant
North Somerset Council could purchase Weston’s dilapidated Birnbeck Pier.
Working with Historic England, the council has begun the next step in securing the future of the pier and confirmed it will look at the possibility of a compulsory purchase order.
The authority served a repairs notice to the private owner of the pier, CNM Estates, in September 2019, advising the proprietor that repair work must take place.
Its owner, Wahid Samady, has not produced any evidence of intention to conduct work at the site.
Historic England has allocated a grant to the council of £127,000 to be used should a compulsory purchase of the unique grade II-listed structure be needed.
A compulsory purchase order is a legal function in the United Kingdom and Ireland which allows certain bodies to obtain land or property without the consent of the owner.
Council leader, Donald Davies, said: "We have given the pier's owner the opportunity to take reasonable steps to preserve it.
"This has not happened, so we are now looking at all options.
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"We shall continue to work with Historic England exploring options for securing the repair and preservation of the pier, including the potential for a compulsory purchase order.
"We will work with any parties that have an interest in Birnbeck, with a view to securing agreement for the preservation and repair of the pier."
The grade-II listed pier has been closed since 1994.
It is noted as being in 'very bad condition' by Historic England and is in 'immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric'.
Mr Samady previously told the Mercury: "Since acquiring Birnbeck Pier and Island in late 2014, CNM Estates has instructed four different architectural firms to present alternative development schemes for the site.
"With each architect, CNM has engaged with the council in setting out the simple arithmetic parameters within which development is necessary in order to fund and progress the intended pier restoration, without any viable conclusion.
"In parallel, through the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, CNM Estates has co-operated fully to see if external funds could also be secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund."
An updated report will go to the council's executive committee meeting on February 5.