Council stands by promise South Parade Pier will not be demolished

South Parade Pier
South Parade Pier
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COUNCIL officials have repeated a promise that South Parade Pier is safe from demolition.

It follows criticism of a statement by Portsmouth City Council solicitor Michael Lawther attempting to soothe fears permission could one day be granted for part of the pier to be knocked down.

The concerns were raised after a court order for a wall to be erected around the damaged structure included wording leaving the door open for a demolition.

Mr Lawther said: ‘We stand by our original statement and strongly dispute any claim our words or actions have been misleading.

‘Our main concern is to protect the public from a dangerous structure and we would not allow South Parade Pier to be demolished.’

But South Parade Trust chairman Leon Reis said there were two ways to foresee a demolition of the pier.

Mr Reis said: ‘The statement reveals an alarming lack of foresight throughout the officers and members of the city council.’

He said permission could be granted by appeal, pointing out that while the council refused Harry Redknapp’s application to demolish the Savoy building in 2007, he won on appeal and knocked it down in 2009.

Mr Reis said a partial collapse of the pier could also lead to a demolition being sanctioned.

He said the decision would lie with the council’s planning committee and not Mr Lawther.

‘A council officer cannot presume what elected representatives may decide,’ he added.

But Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson also said Mr Lawther’s statement left no room for ambiguity.

‘The council has said that if consent was asked for it would be refused. Full stop, end of story.

‘I find it very strange that somebody can see a statement that says consent would not be granted and then think it would be granted.’

Pier owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall have agreed to sell the pier to a group of businessmen, but the sale is not yet completed.

Mr Nash said the pier could end up like West Pier in Brighton, which was left as nothing more than an empty frame after a fire in 
2003.

He said: ‘How could it possibly be safe from demolition?’