Representatives from North Somerset Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England and the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust met on May 5th 2017 to discuss the future of the unique Birnbeck Pier site.
All parties present were in complete agreement that urgent joint action needs to be taken to develop a simple and sustainable way forward to save this major heritage asset.
Having the support of the Council is extremely important from the Trust's perspective as it develops new proposals to secure Heritage Lottery funding.
The Trust acknowledges that without this funding the future for the Birnbeck site is bleak.
The BRT's Trustees also acknowledge that Historic England's expertise and the guidance given by them is the major facilitator in enabling all the concerned parties to come together, making this a major step forward in their endeavours to save the Birnbeck site.
The BRT looks forward to working with all the above bodies to bring the proposed project to a successful conclusion.
The Chairman of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, Charles McCann, said, “The outcome of this meeting has given the Trust encouragement to continue to work with all parties concerned in bringing this project to a successful conclusion for the future generations of local residents and visitors to Weston-super-Mare”.
David Carter, Director of Development and Environment at North Somerset Council, said: “Birnbeck is an important site and we are very supportive of the Trust’s commitment to saving it for the benefit of current and future generations.”
This was the first of what we hope will be many collaborative meetings with the fantastic Clevedon Pier team. They have offered us the opportunity to share in their knowledge and gain key understandings as well as to learn about some of the pit falls when it comes to restoring and regenerating a 19th century Victorian pier. This first meeting has already been a valuable lesson towards our ultimate aim of saving Birnbeck. Our immense thanks go to their team for going out of their way to accommodate us for the evening and to show us around their heritage centre and shop, and to escort us on a walk along their pier & down into the Porthole Room. This is a fabulous new complex which hugely compliments the surrounding area, we would highly recommend a visit.
The BRT had the pleasure of welcoming Hastings Pier Chief Engineer Peter Wheeler and his small entourage at the weekend. Also in attendence on Saturday were a small group of Masters of Architecture students from UWE Bristol's School of Architecture on their second visit to the island, in furtherance of their studies concerning the regeneration of Birnbeck (please see below).
Pier View is now open again at weekends following the recent refurbishment efforts by the 'Team Birnbeck' volunteers there. Tea and coffee, as well as soft drinks, are always available. Please come and visit sometime soon!
Various face-to-face discussions took place today between CNM, NSC, the contractors concerned and representatives of the Trust about the access route for getting heavy machinery to the island. The talks were quite amicable with the urgency of the necessary works and the future of Birnbeck Island being stressed - production of further paperwork is now expected.
Also on the agenda was the matter of the extension of the 'England Coast Path' which recently reached the south side of Brean Down, extending towards Weston from Minehead. NSC confirmed that their intention is to bring the path past Birnbeck by 2020. This may prove to have a significant bearing on the future regeneration of the upper Birkett Road area leading towards Weston Woods and the Toll Road to Kewstoke. More discussions about this will be taking place in due course.
As reported widely by the BBC and ITV as well as the Weston Mercury, work to create an accessway to allow machine access to Birnbeck Island has been halted. The Trustees of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust will fully discuss this matter at their next scheduled monthly meeting.
As has been seen on social media and on the Weston Mercury website today CNM Estate's contractors have started work to create a way to get heavy machinery down from the Toll Road to the low-tide causeway in preparation for the removal of the North Jetty walkway. This demolition is necessary to satisfy the Section 77 Dangerous Building notice issued by North Somerset Council and the associated planning approval which was granted on September 14th 2016.
CNM Estates has informed the Trust that the work to build the track/pathway down to the shoreline will happen over the next 5 days, and then over the period of the next set of suitable tides the removal the North Jetty walkway will take place to make the area safe from risk of further falling metalwork or other debris.
It must be noted the North Jetty's landing stage will not be touched and will remain to be potentially part of any future regeneration of the site.
Any questions on the detail of the demolition works should be directed to CNM Estates or North Somerset Council.
It was recently reported in the Weston Mercury that North Somerset Council (NSC) has made an application for a £500k grant from Historic England to help preserve historic buildings in Weston. As the Mercury records, a spokesman for NSC stated: "The Heritage Action Zone does not include Birnbeck Pier, as this is very much a complete programme all to itself due to all the separate issues including the sheer scale, complexity and timescales involved."
We are led to understand that none of this grant will be awarded to the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust for two primary reasons:
1. Birnbeck Pier is at present privately owned.
2. The current owners are debtors to NSC in relation to their nearby Royal Pier Hotel site.
The Trust accepts these reasons but believes it will be interesting to note which other buildings or sites in Weston are decreed to be of historic interest by NSC.
Also, whether any of the buildings or sites are in private ownership, and if that is the case, who are their owners?
This application bid will not distract the Trust in continuing with its efforts to save the pier and bringing the project to an eventual and successful conclusion for the benifit of the residents and visitors to Weston alike.
After recent communications with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) we have now been advised to apply for a 'Resilient Heritage Award'.
This is a relatively new funding process, and such an award would allow the Trust to do a large majority of the preparatory work required to advance this major project to complete the restoration of the pier.
If the Trust is to be successful with this application, we will need NSC to be a fully committed working partner in this bid.
The information required to apply for this award has been submitted to NSC, and we are presently awaiting their decision so that we can jointly progress the application for this grant.
If the team at the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust and NSC are successful with its grant application, it will allow the project to secure a full-time team to develop plans for the future of the site by:
a) completely understanding its current state
b) defining what would be required to restore its structures and buildings with cost estimates and proposals for wider options covering the entire site
We can then produce a complete heritage restoration bid package for submission to the HLF and other major grant providers to bring this project to a successful conclusion.
With the structures deteriorating on a practically daily basis, and with some nearing further collapse as is the case of the North Jetty, we hope we can now expediently secure this award and continue the journey to saving our valued and most important Grade II* listed structure.
It is now imperative that NSC show that they are fully committed to being part of the team that is endeavouring to save Birnbeck for the residents of Weston-super-Mare, its visitors and the nation alike.
Team Birnbeck - December 2016
The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust Christmas Raffle, with its £150 first prize amongst its many other prizes, raised just over £500. The draw took place at Pier View on 17 December 2016. The Trust would like to thank everyone who bought tickets, and congratulates the winners!
On Thursday December 1st 2016 a group of 14 Masters of Architecture students from UWE Bristol's School of Architecture visited Birnbeck Island accompanied by Architect and Graduate Tutor Matthew Hynam and three Team Birnbeck guides.
From their press statement:
"Masters of Architecture students from the University of the West of England have been tasked with developing ideas for how Birnbeck Pier and island might be developed for the 21st century. The project which is in collaboration with the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust starts with a theoretical project where students will explore how the pier and island might be linked to the wider context of Birnbeck and Weston through a brief to develop a new attraction on the island such as a prospective Institute of Contemporary Film for example. The output of this work will form part of an exhibition in Weston which will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the pier's opening."
Please see this page for more details.
As part of the process of creating a lasting photographic, written and drawn record of the structure of the North Jetty to be carried out in accordance with Historic England’s Building Recording level 4, laser scanning surveying of the North Jetty took place on Tuesday and Wednesday November 29th and 30th 2016 - please see this page for more details.
Jess Steele OBE of Jericho Road Solutions, who specialise in helping community organisations to take on challenging projects, will be providing coaching support to the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust. Jess played a key role in the delivery of the Hastings Pier project and has supported other piers including Colwyn Bay and Bognor.
On 4 October 2016 the Trust was notified that Earthcam.Com had chosen the Birnbeck webcam as one of its weekly Top 10 Cams, based on quality of image, uniqueness of content and overall technical achievements in webcam technology.
North Somerset Council's Corporate Services Directorate has agreed a 99 lease with the Trust on the small retail outlet adjacent to Pier View. Please see this page for more details.
BRT Chairman Charles McCann, Project Manager Richard Griffin and Business Manager Neil O'Donoghue attended a meeting with NSC members on Monday 26 September 2016 to present the Trust's position.
The following is a draft of a text submitted to the Council for possible inclusion in its own business newsletter:
Birnbeck Pier is a magnificent Victorian structure jutting out into the sea at the northern end of Weston-super-Mare’s coastal promenade. She has been neglected for many years now, and her condition is rapidly deteriorating. Many people have previously proposed grand designs for modern renewal at Birnbeck, but these have always been overambitious and largely impractical.
It’s now time for the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust, a registered charitable organisation, to get the public and the business community behind it and support its efforts to save Birnbeck.
The Trust intends, by means of either a long-term lease or direct ownership, to apply for grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Coastal Community Fund. It seeks to build a sustainable not-for-profit business structure aimed at regenerating the site to bring back into use this grand and in many ways unique 19th century attraction, allowing both the local community and visitors to Weston to enjoy the complex for many future generations to come.
The Trust have for the past 16 months been working with various stakeholders including the owners CNM Estates (Birnbeck) Ltd, North Somerset Council, Historic England, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the Architectural Heritage Fund and other grant bodies to gain support whilst itself fundraising through organised social events held at the pier and in local event spaces such as the 49 Club, the Imperial Bar and the Tropicana. These funds are initially needed to deliver the structural surveys and feasibility studies which are required as prerequisites to underpin future major grant applications in order that cost estimates, programme delivery and long-term sustainability can be assured.
To date £19,000 has been raised towards the studies with a further £21,000 + VAT being required to deliver this preliminary package. The overall cost of the project to fully regenerate the site is presently estimated at being in the region of £16.2m. This sum will be needed to regenerate the mainland buildings to focus on the national heritage significance of the site, restore the main bridge to the island, the North Jetty and the buildings on the island, this final element focusing on the renovation of the two main pavilion buildings to provide an education centre and an arts and entertainment attraction whilst maintaining the existing historic design aspects throughout.
This project will not only require the support of the major grant bodies. It will be essential for the Trust to gain significant support from the public and both outside and partnership businesses to generate the necessary HLF ‘match funding’, which could be a significant proportion of the overall cost.
The Trust have established many ways for donations to be made and received to help save Birnbeck Pier, all which can be found on our website www.birnbeckregenerationtrust.org.uk
Helping the Trust to save Weston’s first and original pier will create construction jobs through the redevelopment phase, and operation and maintenance employment throughout the lifetime of the venue. A regenerated Birnbeck will in turn encourage more tourists to the North Somerset area bringing both day-trippers and short and long stay visitors, all of which will bring future sustainability to the pier and also help with the growth of the local economy.
For more information please contact our secretary email@example.com - a member of our team will then contact you to answer any questions you may have.
We hope you will join with Team Birnbeck to support saving Weston’s historic architecture for both present and future generations to appreciate anew.
The renovation of the exterior of Pier View is now approximately 75% completed. Rotten timber and panelling has been replaced wherever necessary and the process of repainting using coats of high quality primer, undercoat and gloss is well underway. This work has been largely funded by the Friends of the Old Pier Society. The pier's owners, CNM Estates, assisted the efforts by providing the Trust with a brand new tower scaffold assembly. Especial thanks go to volunteers Terry Hutt, Keith Barraclough and Dean Mills for their continuing efforts and dedication to the task. Both the Friends and the Trust will be continuing to use the building as their Information Centre on a rent-free basis.
On 14 September 2016 North Somerset Council's Planning and Regulatory Committee voted to approve CNM Estates (Birnbeck) Ltd's planning application to partially demolish Birnbeck Pier's North Jetty, due to its poor condition and the associated public safety risk. This application concerns the walkway and five pairs of supporting trestle legs, and not the off-island landing stage. Please see this page for further details.
In May 2016 the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust was locally selected as the winning entry for a £12,000 award from the Tesco 'Bags of Help' scheme. We thank everyone who voted for us! Please see our Tesco page for further details.
Members of the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust and the Friends of the Old Pier Society met with the directors and leading staff of CNM Estates (Birnbeck) Ltd on Friday 5 February 2016 at the London offices of architects Darling Associates. All the participants engaged in a ‘design workshop’, which was conducted in order to review both old and new ideas relating to the regeneration of the Birnbeck Pier and Island complex.
A number of wide-ranging concepts were considered at the meeting. The Trust’s key aim has always been to ensure that the historic heritage of the pier is maintained into the future, this remained the Trust’s position throughout the discussions. Other matters discussed included the provision of car parking near the pier, and possible changes to the layout of Birkett road.
As is now generally realised, the refurbishment of Birnbeck will be a multi-million pound project. Any grants awarded by public bodies will need to be ‘match-funded’, this means that the Trust will be required to raise a further proportional amount through its own independent fundraising efforts. Some of the designs discussed encompassed not only the renovation the pier complex as a landmark attraction, but also considered further developing the complete Birnbeck site. The reasoning for this is so that a considerable sum of money could be donated from the development towards the fundraising efforts for the project, and then onwards throughout its lifespan, to provide an essential future maintenance fund for the pier.
In the near future CNM Estates will release concept designs for public viewing and consultation as part of the ongoing process.
The North Jetty was also discussed as a matter of priority because of recent storm damage. Proposals for remedial action and cost estimates have been produced in order to make it safe. The timing and scope of this work will be discussed with North Somerset Council and Historic England (due to its listed status) during the week commencing February 8th.
The Trust still needs to advance its own fundraising efforts and with support from CNM Estates will continue to progress the various studies and surveys presently underway as a requirement of its primary Heritage Lottery Fund application. As well as this, it wishes to continue with the refurbishment of the Birnbeck landside buildings, which it needs as a base for its continuing operation.
Please visit our website www.birnbeckregenerationtrust.org.uk for ways to donate, or text BBRT15 £5 to 70700 (Note: the amount is your choice). Thank you.
Public Meeting with CNM Estates (20 August 2015)
The following is a transcript of the public question and answer session that took place between the Directors of CNM Estates and others including Birnbeck Regeneration Trust Trustees at Pier View on Thursday 20th August 2015. Please click here to read the transcript.
The Birnbeck Regeneration Trust (Registered Charity No. 1103012) has recently experienced a period of revival, with an influx of new and interested volunteers working both with itself and for its sister organisation, the Friends of the Old Pier Society.
Together in partnership with North Somerset Council, these bodies will endeavour to deliver a sustainable plan which will ensure the future of Birnbeck Pier and the surrounding local area. The Trust now plans to enter into negotiations with CMN Estates, the current owners of Birnbeck Pier and Island, to see whether or not it would be possible to find an agreed solution that would be acceptable to all the concerned parties.
If, as is hoped for, the Trust is able to gain ownership of the Birnbeck complex, then £20million will be requested from various bodies including the Heritage Lottery Fund, which would be used to regenerate the pier by returning it to its glory of the early 1900’s. This would not only ensure that the pier survives for future generations to enjoy, but would also provide much needed jobs to the local area.
Both the Trust and the Friends are under the long-term chairmanship of Mr Charles McCann. He and the two committees he oversees lead the combined team of volunteers, who are now planning to expand their fundraising activities. It is likely that the project will require the Trust to raise in excess of £3million to advance and support any outside financial backing. This fairly massive effort will need everyone who supports the restoration of the pier to assist in any way possible.
A project application has now been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is currently being reviewed. If this measure is successful, the Trust will move on to produce a stage 1 HLF funding application, where a feasibility study will be undertaken to ensure the project is viable and sustainable for the future.
More information will be posted as soon as meetings have been arranged and held with all the concerned stakeholders, these should take place in the very near future.
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