Private owner attempts to delay Birnbeck CPO but Council stands firm

9:16am - 23 February 2021

The private owner of Birnbeck Pier has put in an application to the Magistrates Court to put a ‘stay’ on the Compulsory Purchase Order brought by North Somerset Council. 

The council has argued in a virtual preliminary hearing, held today at Weston’s Magistrates Court, that a ‘stay’ is not justified due to the current owner not undertaking any repairs on the pier either before or since the CPO was served, and as CNM Estates no longer have a legal interest in the site, following a transfer of ownership to Birnbeck Holdings Ltd, the case should be dismissed.

The court has agreed to schedule a full hearing in March or April 2021, exact date to be confirmed.

The current owner, Mr Samady, who recently sold the pier back to himself under a different company name Birnbeck Holdings Ltd, has been in possession of the structure for over a decade with no substantive work taking place to protect it. Despite this, the owner still states that future work is to take place to restore the pier. 

Leader of North Somerset Council, Don Davies, said: “It appears that Mr Samady is seeking every avenue possible to delay the CPO, which is extremely disappointing. The council would much prefer it if he spent his time and effort focusing on making the necessary repairs to the Pier, which we highlighted in September 2019. 

“If the owner is not willing or able to do what needs to be done to save this wonderful structure then they should allow the transfer of the land to take place and make way for an organisation who can.”

The Council has been working for some time to secure a future for the Pier and announced in June 2020 that the RNLI are looking to invest into the historic pier and move their life saving operations back to the island, significantly improving their access to the water. The council intends to use its legal powers to compulsory purchase the Pier site as part of a back-to-back deal, immediately transferring the property to the RNLI.

North Somerset Council and Historic England recently stated their unwavering commitment to continue with the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of Birnbeck Pier.

Birnbeck Pier is Grade II* listed with five further Grade II structures and buildings located on the island and the landward end of the site.  It is classed by Historic England as being a priority level A, Listed building in their National Building at risk Register. 

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