Birnbeck Pier to be repaired?
PUBLISHED: 13:35 20 March 2019
Vital repair works to Weston-super-Mare’s dilapidated pier, which has been closed since 1994, could finally be carried out.
North Somerset Council, working with Historic England, is to prepare a repairs notice to the private owner of Birnbeck Pier, CNM Estates.
The authority has ‘exhausted all options’ with the site and will issue the repairs notice ‘imminently’.
A council spokesman confirmed to the Mercury it will be asking CNM chairman Wahid Samady to restore the pier structure ‘to the condition it was in the early 1980s’.
They added: “A repairs notice is a swift and effective tool for alerting a proprietor of their statutory duties to repair and maintain the property they own.
“We intend to issue the notice imminently and expect work to take a couple of months.
“We will then gather with Historic England to take the next steps.”
The grade-II listed pier is noted as being in ‘very bad condition’ by Historic England and is in ‘immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric’.
Its spokesman said: “We have been very concerned about the rapid deterioration of Birnbeck Pier for some years, and are happy to support North Somerset Council in facilitating them to serve a repairs notice.
“This is a necessary first step towards safeguarding the future of this extraordinary structure.”
Mr Samady refuted the council’s claims.
He 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 North Somerset Council 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.
“We invite the council to justify its statement that it has ‘exhausted all options’.
“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.
“To date no ‘repairs notice’ has been handed to CNM Estates and consequently we are unable to comment further.”
Hillside ward Councillor John Crockford-Hawley welcomed the repairs notice, but questioned the authority’s timing of its announcement.
He said: “It has clearly taken an incredibly long time to serve the repairs notice but I do appreciate it is not a straight forward thing for the planning authority to do, what irritated me was the release not notifying any the councillors without being told.
“It was in the offing and I had been asked to keep quiet about it as it was not in the public domain, I did not know if I was at liberty to talk about it.
“To issue a release on Monday when the executive is meeting on Tuesday and the standing orders do not allow an speeches to be made by non-executive members is disappointing, perhaps this was organised to come out at the last minute before anyone could do anything about it.”