A ‘GREAT wall of Southsea’ is to engulf the damaged South Parade Pier.
Owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall have been ordered to construct a wood-and-mesh fence 15m either side of the pier and along the promenade at an estimated cost of £120,000.
The fence would involve driving 6m timber piles three metres deep into the beach all the way down to the waterline in an effort make the area safe in case part of the pier were to collapse.
Mr Nash and Mrs Randall did not oppose the order, which was issued at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court at the request of Portsmouth City Council.
The pier’s owners have until November 12 to build the barrier.
In court, Mr Nash said he wanted to demolish the seaward end of the pier, which the order allowed if court permission was granted, as the pier is a Grade II listed building.
He said: ‘The sensible thing to do is to demolish that part of the pier and the public can have the beach to themselves, which they’re entitled to.’
Although a group of six businessmen led by Southsea entrepreneur Lawrence Mendel have agreed to buy the pier, the sale has not been finalised and Mr Nash and Mrs Randall still own it.
But council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson was hopeful the court-ordered barrier would not need to be built.
He said: ‘The new owners have a different idea of how they can make the pier safe.’
‘Deal for pier needs to be sealed to secure future’ - read The News Comment on this issue
Malcolm Belcher, co-ordinating surveyor for the new owners, said he thought a less-permanent barrier costing only about £60,000 could be put in place, which would still seal off the area 15m either side of the pier.
Mr Belcher said: ‘It would be a combination of galvanised hollow tubes and mesh down to the lowest waterline, and from that point on a sea boom, similar to an oil spill boom, in the water.’
Mr Belcher said any work to restore the pier would take time given the years of neglect it has faced.
Leon Reis, chairman of save-the-pier group South Parade Pier Trust, called the decision a ‘black day for Portsmouth.’
Mr Reis said the pier needed urgent repairs instead of a wall and feared the structure would collapse before it could be saved. He said: ‘This council action may protect the public but it probably sounds the death knell for the pier.
‘This will be the great wall of Southsea. It is a tragedy.’
Mr Nash and Mrs Randall were also ordered to pay £3,854.67 in costs for the hearing.