Birnbeck Pier: Inquiry to decide future of Weston-super-Mare's crumbling Victorian pier

The pier has been in disrepair for years.

An inquiry will be held to decide the future of Weston-super-Mare's crumbling Birnbeck Pier next month.

The Victorian pier has been left in a state of disrepair for years and is at risk of falling completely into the sea.

North Somerset Council hopes to work with the RNLI to renovate the pier so it can once again use it as a based for the town's lifeboat teams.

The council tried to acquire the pier by way of a Compulsory Purchase Order in 2020 but the pier's owner, CNM Estates, objected to this.

CNM Estates withdrew the case in November last year, allowing the formal purchase process to proceed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has now confirmed a Compulsory Purchase Order inquiry will go ahead from 8-10 August.

What's the plan to restore Birnbeck Pier - and who will pay for it?

If the council secures ownership of the historic site, some £3.55million of emergency funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund will be used strengthen the ‘legs’ of the pier and create a temporary walkway onto the island.

A further £4.525million of funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund will then be used to restore the buildings on the pier alongside £4.4million from the government’s Levelling Up Fund. 

Part of Birnbeck Pier collapsed into the Bristol Channel during a storm. Credit: @ShaneBurney/Timmay Curtis

Cllr Mark Canniford, from North Somerset Council, said: “We’ve been working towards this point for three years and we’re grateful that our case to acquire and restore the pier can finally be heard. We have developed proposals to restore the Grade-II pier and many of the associated buildings, allow the RNLI to use the site once again and the public to visit.  

“This will be transformational to the town and its future. We are very grateful to our partners and funders, RNLI, Historic England, Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, National Lottery Heritage Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Levelling Up Fund.”

Councillor and historian John Crockford-Hawley added: “I’m thrilled we are a huge step closer to renovating Birnbeck Pier and seeing it in use once again.”

An outcome of the inquiry is expected in the autumn.