North Somerset Council has offered the owners of Birnbeck Pier the princely sum of £1 to purchase the site, or else face having it taken over forcibly as part of a compulsory purchase order (CPO).
The Grade II-listed structure in Weston-super-Mare – which is still the country’s only pier which connects an island to the mainland – has been closed since 2013 and on Historic England’s “at risk” register for over 20 years, after lack of investment saw the gangway fall into disrepair and become structurally unsound.
North Somerset Council has repeatedly petitioned owner CNM Estates to redress the situation or else face having it taken over, and their latest offer appears a last ditch attempt before the formal legal process of the CPO (which can take as long as 18 months) is launched.
Indeed, council leader Don Davies told Radio Bristol, in grandstand style, that he was willing to “deliver the pound coin personally if it makes it any quicker.”
In the same interview, Davies said that the present dilapidated state of the pier made him “want to weep.”
“As part of the CPO process, we wrote to the owner and made an offer for a voluntary sale, so they don’t have to pay for legal costs themselves,” he said. “This could save 18 months of effort, and this nominal sum will mean we can get down to the hard work of getting the pier back to the state it should be.”