Pier developer's 'capability' questioned by councillor

Weston Super Mare Birnbeck Pier, Somerset, September 2011 Image copyright Simon Roberts
Image caption Birnbeck Pier has been closed to the public since 1994

A developer planning to restore a derelict Somerset pier has come under fire from the council's deputy leader.

Birnbeck Pier, in Weston-super-Mare, was closed to the public in 1994 and is now on the Buildings at Risk register.

Wahid Samady, of CNM Estates, announced on Monday he had engaged an adviser to "come up with a solution" for the pier.

Councillor Elfan Ap Rees, of North Somerset Council, said the developer had shown "little evidence of his capability" over the project.

In 2011 CNM Estates, which also owns the Royal Pier Hotel site, agreed to buy the dilapidated pier and restore it to create a hotel, homes and shops.

Since then, the 400m (440 yds) structure has undergone test repairs funded by English Heritage, and emergency repairs carried out by North Somerset Council earlier in the year.

"We need to have confidence he can move these projects forward," said Mr Ap Rees, a Conservative, the council's executive member for strategic planning.

"At the moment he has shown little evidence of his capability to do that, and he still owes us thousands of pounds in demolition costs for the Royal Pier Hotel."

Mr Samady said he was in discussions with the council over demolition costs but said the authority had confused architects with property advisers.

"I've personally invested millions in Weston-super-Mare," he said.

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