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Fears over the future of Weymouth pleasure pier
WEYMOUTH’S Pleasure Pier could become the latest victim of neglect.
Work to fix Weymouth Harbour’s ageing walls may not be enough to save the landmark Pleasure Pier, which could be closed off if its condition worsens.
After decades of neglect, the 81-year-old pier has been found to have significant structural defects and may have to be shut off to the public if it deteriorates further.
The council has been criticised for not investing in maintenance of the harbour.
Huge cracks appeared in the harbour wall last year forcing Condor Ferries to abandon the resort until repairs were carried out.
In its heyday, the pier was a venue for dances, swimming competitions and brass bands.
In more recent years, the elevated cafe became a tourist hotspot but has since closed.
The pier was assessed as safe to use during the Olympics when it became a focal point for visitors – and it remains a point of interest for its views of the bay and as a fishing platform.
It was surveyed along with 4km of harbour walls to help cash-strapped Weymouth and Portland Borough Council draw up a priority list of repair and maintenance works.
The management committee has now approved those works in a compromise that keeps everything safe and serviceable but without spending a fortune.
The dilapidated Pleasure Pier, built by the Great Western Railway to serve the then ferry terminal, will get a patch-up job targeting areas of ‘high safety risk’ to ensure it remains safe – this is favoured over major refurbishment, reconstruction or demolition.
But public access will be kept under close review and the pier could be closed down in less than five years.
This affects the pier structure itself and not the walkway leading up to it where the Sea Life Tower and ferry terminal car park is sited.
A summary report prepared for the council says the pier has a number of significant defects, mainly underneath the deck. Nothing has been done to it over the last few decades and it is now a matter of ‘long-term concern’ due to its poor condition.
The length of time it will be safe to use is difficult to predict but the report says the patch-up job, which will involve £20,000 being set aside in the budget each year, will keep it safe until the main structural elements begin to fail, ‘possibly in less than five years’.
The work to be carried out on the harbour walls and pier is separate to the £3.9 million worth of work on the berth, where it is hoped Condor Ferries will be sailing from later this year.
Council environment and sustainability spokesman Gill Taylor said investigations on the harbour walls and pier were conducted before the damage to the ferry terminal became clear last year, sparking a debate over why the council hadn’t put money into the harbour over the years.
She added: “We’re in the position we’re in with the Pleasure Pier and it’s a shame. To do a proper job on it would cost a lot of money.”
Work to replace all of the harbour walls would cost as much as £45million.
But the council has agreed a programme focussing on priority works targeting mainly steel sheet pile walls, which are worse off than those of concrete construction.
Just over £1million will be put into the budget next year for repairs and a further £3.6million will be ploughed into the harbour walls over the next 15 years for identified works. Investigations are under way for grant funding.
Coun Taylor added: “The work on the harbour walls has to be done before it gets any worse and it costs a lot more.
“The sad thing is we didn’t put additional money into maintenance of the port in the past so we’re getting hit by a large sum of money now. But the harbour is where it is and we’ve now got a solid plan for repairs and ongoing maintenance.”
Priority repairs list presented
AS WELL as backing harbour walls and pier work, the borough council's management committee was also presented with a list of high priority repairs and maintenance that is needed around the rest of Weymouth Harbour.
Harbour Master Peter Mole was asked to produce a list of what needed doing, other than the walls. The works, totalling more than £350,000, will be put forward for consideration as part of ongoing budget proposals for next year.
The list include things like water supply to pontoons, replacing pontoons, replacing steps and demolishing a toilet block on the Pleasure Pier.
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