ANOTHER stumbling block has been removed in the bid to restore South Parade Pier.
Portsmouth magistrates yesterday agreed the Southsea attraction is no longer a danger to the public.
The owners’ intentions remain, that front to back re-opening will be by the summer of 2016.Malcolm Belcher, South Parade Pier project co-ordinator
But the pier is to remain shut until at least next summer as it is currently a building site with repair and maintenance work ongoing.
It had been hoped the pier would re-open in time for this year’s America’s Cup World Series – but delays in structural reports being completed meant it never happened.
And despite assurances everything is on schedule, campaigners are concerned at the length of time the pier decks have remained closed.
Malcolm Belcher, project co-ordinator for the pier, which is owned by Tommy Ware Snr and his son Tommy Jnr, told The News: ‘We were trying to strive to release the external decking area in time for the America’s Cup, but for certain reasons we weren’t able to achieve that.
‘We’re now in September and we have done a substantial amount of the work.
‘We’ve now achieved a considerable amount which allows for the lifting of the safety order.
‘It’s now a construction site as we are continuing the major repairs of the building.
‘The owners’ intentions remain that front to back re-opening will be by the summer of 2016.’
Pier bosses will need to apply to the court again when they are ready to re-open to the public, as per the terms of a closure notice imposed on the venue in May 2014.
But Leon Reis, of South Parade Trust, was not convinced.
He said: ‘The pier has been closed to the public since 2012 and by next year that will be four years. The longer buildings like these are closed, the harder it is for them to come back to life.
‘Saving the structure is one part of saving the pier.
‘Saving the pier also means making it a viable business, which is earning money and has ongoing revenue which goes back into the pier.’
A statement on behalf of the Wares said: ‘This is great news for us and for the people of Portsmouth, who can look forward to enjoying the pier, and all of its new features, by early next summer.’