THE exclusive resort firm that has revamped Spitbank Fort is in discussions to buy South Parade Pier.
Luxury hotel company Clarenco has confirmed it has been talking to the attraction’s owner Fred Nash about a possible purchase.
It comes after the company operating the pier, SPP South Coast Limited, was wound up because of unpaid electricity bills to EDF Energy.
The rear part of the structure has also been closed off to the public because of safety fears over its badly-rusted steelwork.
Mr Nash said he has been approached by three potential buyers, including Clarenco, and was hoping to reach a deal which would secure the pier’s future.
He said: ‘It would be good to have someone behind it with huge amounts of money. Someone who has the resources to really get things done.
‘If this deal goes through it will mean a significant investment in the pier’s future.
‘And hopefully it will either be supported by grants or by the community.’
It is believed that Clarenco has considered using the pier as a setting-off point for its three forts.
The firm has converted Spitbank Fort into a private island for hire and also has plans to transform Horse Sands Fort and No Man’s Land Fort into a museum and a four-star hotel.
Leon Reis, chairman of the People’s Pier group which is trying to buy the building, said he was encouraged by the news of talks but said he hoped there wouldn’t be a move to restrict access to the public.
He said: ‘We have done an enormous amount of work to try and maintain public access to a safe and welcoming pier, so we would be delighted if someone with the money readily to hand was to buy it and set up a quality operation.
‘My only reservation is that is should offer public access. The people of Portsmouth have had public access to the pier since 1869 and it would be completely wrong for that to finish.
‘Given Clarenco’s reputation, and with that one proviso, we would be delighted if someone with their obvious quality took the pier over.
‘And if there is any way we can mobilise the community to help they only need to ask.’
A spokesman for Clarenco confirmed that the company ‘is in talks with the pier’s owners’ but did not give any other details.