Court proceedings filed by a former financial-backer of CNM Estates has given the company until January 22 to find a new owner for Birnbeck Pier – or risk forcing a low-ball sale to the RNLI.
The list of woes of Birnbeck Pier owner CNM Estates seems only to be growing longer, with the news that one of its investors is suing the company over a loan dispute.
A preliminary hearing at London Circuit Commercial Court last month saw Brian Sullivan put his case before a High Court judge, claiming that a loan of £1m that he agreed to lend to CNM in its September 2014 purchase of the dilapidated Victorian structure was never paid back.
Sullivan said that the agreed terms of the loan were that it would be repaid after 12 months, but that the company had failed to make good on its commitment. To that end, Sullivan is suing the company to recoup his investment, and is seeking an additional £1m in interest.
Meanwhile, presiding judge Mark Pelling QC agreed that CNM director Wahid Samady had until January 22 to find a new buyer for the pier, or else risk a mandated sale to the RNLI, which maintained a station on Birnbeck Island until 2013. The agreed price for this prospective sale agreement was set at just £350,000.
CNM is already in the midst of fighting a Compulsory Purchase Order on the pier, issued by North Somerset Council. The local authority took the action in September, after the continued deterioration of the pier’s structural integrity led councillors to claim that CNM was failing in its obligation to maintain the listed property.
Indeed, such is the level of weathering on the 153-year-old structure, that one recent estimate placed the cost of required restorations to Birnbeck Pier somewhere in the region of £13m.
As for the proceedings undertaken by Sullivan, a preliminary trial on the matter of the loan repayment has been set to begin on March 5, with a longer, separate process pertaining to other contractual issues slated for later on in the year.