CNM Estates purchase Birnbeck Pier with new company
- Credit: Archant
Weston’s historic Birnbeck Pier has been purchased by CNM Estates under a new guise.
Pursuant to a High Court order, CNM purchased Birnbeck Island and pier on January 22 under a new entity, Birnbeck Holdings Limited.
North Somerset Council said the purchase does not impact the authority's compulsory purchase order (CPO) process which will continue as planned.
Its spokesman said: “Although there has been a notional transfer of ownership of Birnbeck Pier, the director is the same person who has owned the historic structure for over a decade, and we remain deeply concerned that the pier has been neglected to such an extent that Historic England has put Birnbeck at the top of the National Buildings at Risk Register.
"This does not impact upon the compulsory purchase order (CPO) process which will continue as planned to restore the pier and, working with Historic England, allow the RNLI back on the island to do what they do best; saving lives.”
CNM intends to start work on the vital repair and the redevelopment of the site.
Planning permission for phase one of the repair works was submitted in June.
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Wahid Samady said CNM and Birnbeck Holdings Limited are working closely with the council and Historic England and are close to agreement regarding the start of important bracing work to reinforce the pier’s trusses.
A planning application for the next phase of works has been drawn up and will be submitted shortly.
Mr Samady, CNM chairman, said: “I am delighted that all the distracting background noise has now been removed and that we can now focus on delivering an exciting new vision for Birnbeck Pier and Island, regenerating the north end of the town and complementing the vision and opportunity identified in the Super Weston prospectus.”
CNM said the RNLI should be provided with space reasonably required to meet its operational needs for life-saving, but it believes the charity should contribute to the costs of the repair of the pier.
A CNM spokesman said: “CNM Estates has always supported the RNLI presence on the island as it has been identified as the best location for life-saving and remains open to a consensual arrangement with the group to enable this.
“CNM Estates reiterates its position that the RNLI should contribute, as they have already agreed, to the costs of the repair of the pier, which they have occupied and had beneficial use of for nearly 150 years without contributing towards its maintenance.
“This would help to ensure its ongoing use for the next 100 years. This position remains open for sensible dialogue between the site owner and the RNLI.
“Unfortunately, since January 2020, certain members of the RNLI team have taken it upon themselves to force through commercial discussions by supporting vexatious litigation and the CPO, where CNM Estates believes that significant misunderstanding or misrepresentation has been made.”
Cllr John Crockford-Hawley, the council's heritage and regeneration champion, is sceptical of the purchase.
He told the Mercury: "Mr Samady's historic promises have all been worthless. His brazen alterations of company ownership and use of imaginative financing have shown nothing to convince me that his heart is anywhere near the right place.
"I trust the RNLI, Historic England and council officers but trust must be earned if it's to be meaningful. Mr Samady has done nothing to resolve the pier's problems other than engage various people to create pretty computer pictures.
"His empty hotel was mysteriously ravaged by arson, leaving a fallow site for an inappropriate 10-storey tower block planning application which resulted in financial liquidation, since when he's managed to buy the site back from the receiver.
"His illegal attempt to create a new pier access from Spring Cove was brought to an abrupt halt, though he has still not restored the cliff side. Is there a reason why I or anyone else should believe this gentleman's promises?"
CNM has appealed the CPO to both the Magistrates Court and the Secretary of State and is confident its appeal will be upheld.
The company has also instructed architects Darling Associates to draw up a masterplan for the regeneration and revitalisation of its holdings, with the first phase focusing on the site of the former Royal Pier Hotel, which it also owns.