Weston-super-Mare’s dilapidated Birnbeck Pier has been sold – to its current owner.
CNM Estates, headed by businessman Wahid Samady, was ordered by the High Court in December to find a buyer for the pier by January 22.
A new company – Birnbeck Holdings Limited – has now been set up by CNM Estates which has purchased Birnbeck Island and the historic pier.
Bosses at the company say they now intend to start work on repairing and redeveloping the site.
A spokesman for CNM Estates and Birnbeck Holdings said: “Pursuant to a High Court order, UK developer CNM Estates has purchased Birnbeck Island and Pier on 22 January under new entity, Birnbeck Holdings Limited.
“The company intends to start work on the vital repair and the redevelopment of site without the hindrance of historical litigation.”
CNM Estates purchased the pier in 2012 after major redevelopment plans fell by the wayside.
However plans to redevelop the pier have not materialised.
Planning permission for Phase one of the immediate repair works was submitted by CNM Estates in June 2020.
CNM Estates and Birnbeck Holdings Limited says it is working closely with North Somerset Council and Historic England and are close to agreement regarding the start of bracing work to reinforce the pier’s trusses to stop further deterioration of the structure.
A planning application for the next phase of work has been drawn up and will be submitted shortly.
North Somerset Council has already started the process to compulsory purchase the pier, serving CNM Estates with a compulsory purchase order (CPO) in September last year.
The authority had previously made a financial offer to CNM Estates in a bid to avoid going through the lengthy and costly process of applying for a CPO on the pier.
However this was not accepted.
The plan is to secure the ownership of the pier then transfer the landmark to the RNLI.
The back to back deal would mean the pier is transferred immediately to the RNLI, which wants to return its operations to the island and restore public access.
As part of the plan, the RNLI will restore the pier, which over the years has fallen into a dangerous condition, and build a new lifeboat station, training facility and other operational buildings required.
The lifeboat service – based on the landmark for 131 years – was forced to move off the island in 2013 after concerns for the crew’s health and safety because of the dilapidated state of the structure.
A spokesman for CNM Estates and Birnbeck Holdings Limited added: “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 be provided with space reasonably required to meet their operational needs for life saving.
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“However, it believes 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.”
CNM Estates has appealed the CPO to both the Magistrates Court and to the Secretary of State.
The spokesman added: “We are ‘confident’ that the appeal will be upheld, particularly as works will in any event commence soon after the decision notice issued for the Phase one works.
CNM Estates has also instructed award-winning architects Darling Associates to draw up a masterplan for the regeneration and revitalisation of its pier and island, with the first phase focusing on the site of the former Royal Pier Hotel which it also owns.
Wahid Samady, group 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”
North Somerset Council says it plans to continue with its compulsory purchase of Birnbeck Pier.
A spokesman for North Somerset Council said: “Although Birnbeck Pier has changed ownership, the director is the same individual who has owned the historic structure for over a decade, and we remain deeply concerned that he has neglected the pier to such an extent that Historic England has put Birnbeck at the top of the National Buildings at Risk Register.
“We remain convinced that the Compulsory Purchase Order is the best way forward to restoring the pier and, working with Historic England, getting the RNLI back on the island to do what they do best, saving lives.”