A MAJOR obstacle has been overcome in the bid to restore South Parade Pier.
The green light has been given for the front of the attraction to reopen – enabling the public to walk along the promenade for the first time in almost a year.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court yesterday varied a dangerous structure notice imposed on the pier so that it no longer applies to the part based on land including two shops and the front arcade.
The court heard the city council was satisfied with repairs that had taken place on behalf of the new owners.
It is now hoped the wooden hoardings blocking the entrance will be removed by road contractors Colas by the end of today – and the shops could start trading soon after.
Businessman Tommy Ware Snr, who owns the pier with his son Tommy Jnr and their business partner Lawrence ‘Larry’ Mendel, said it was a positive step forward.
‘It’s great, we are achieving we said we wanted to do,’ he said. ‘The team who have worked on the pier should be proud of themselves with what they have done. They have done a tremendous job – all credit should go to them.
‘We are on track.’
The notice was imposed in May last year after an application to the courts by the city council following fears over public safety.
The order still applies to the rest of the pier as structural repairs continue.
Barrister Richard Egleton, representing the council, said: ‘Works have been carried out and are ongoing; there were major structural problems with the pier.
‘The position has been reached that the front of the pier, which is on solid ground, is now safe to reopen.’
Project co-ordinator Malcolm Belcher said: ‘It’s a small area of the pier, but it’s a significant position for the new owners.
‘This is the culmination of nine to ten months hard work, which has resulted in a significant section of the pier being made safe and given back to the public.
‘We all need to thank the new owners in achieving this small milestone.’
The owners are aiming to get the decks open in time for the America’s Cup World Series taking place off Portsmouth’s shores from July 23 to 26.