Weston-super-Mare’s Birnbeck Pier served with compulsory purchase order

Birnbeck Pier in Weston-super-Mare has fallen into disrepair.

The owners of Weston-super-Mare’s dilapidated Birnbeck Pier have been served with a compulsory purchase order.

The order allows North Somerset Council to take ownership of the pier from owners CNM Estates.

The authority had previously made a financial offer to the company in a bid to avoid going through the lengthy and costly process of applying for a CPO - but this was not accepted.

North Somerset Council has served the owners of the pier with a compulsory purchase order.

The plan is to secure the ownership of the pier before handing it over to the RNLI, who want to return its operations to the island.

“We had hoped to avoid the CPO process and for the owner to voluntarily transfer the site to the council or the RNLI, but sadly it seems this will not be the case," Cllr Don Davies added.

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 East Pavilion on the pier.

The town's RNLI 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.

It is currently operating from a temporary site at Knightstone.

North Somerset Council, working with Historic England, issued CNM Estates with a repairs notice in September.

The notice ordered the company, headed by Wahid Samady, to carry out a series of ‘necessary repairs’ to the landmark.

Mr Samady was given two months to respond to the notice. However, no work has been carried out.

Detailed survey work has been carried out by the council to assess the condition of the pier.

Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director for Historic England in the South West, said: “We applaud North Somerset Council in taking this vital step towards securing Birnbeck Pier for use by the RNLI as a lifesaving base."

The other part of the site – the former Royal Pier Hotel – is not included in the scheme.

The history of Birnbeck Pier

The RNLI wants to return its operations to the island.

The site remains vacant after the council was forced to step in and demolish the buildings following a fire.

The council has put a charge on the site for the costs it incurred for the demolition and to make the site safe.

The pier was designed by Eugenius Birch, the noted Victorian engineer.

Construction took place between 1862 and 1867, with the foundation stone being laid in 1864 and opening to the public from 1866.

The pier closed to the public for safety reasons in 1994 and is now on a Buildings at Risk Register.

The pier in Weston-super-Mare.

Over the years the pier has been left to deteriorate and is now in a decrepit state.

Part of the north jetty - where paddle steamers and passenger ferries used to dock - has already collapsed and the condition of the structure has continued to deteriorate.

The pier is the only one in the country which links the mainland to an island.

CNM Estates purchased the pier in 2012 after major redevelopment plans fell by the wayside.

The CPO will need to be agreed by the Secretary of State, which could take up to 18 months.