Court ruling gives pier bosses chance to open up full length of attraction

South Parade Pier    Picture: Shaun Roster
South Parade Pier Picture: Shaun Roster

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LEGAL restrictions stopping South Parade Pier from fully opening to the public have been lifted at a court hearing.

Bosses are set to open the pier further within months, with visitors able to walk from front to back.

Malcolm Belcher, the surveyor for the pier’s owners, told magistrates: ‘In August of this year the public will be able to walk from front to back. The full safety certificate with building control and fire safety will be coming along the line.’

Speaking outside court, he said the work accomplished since January 2015 had been huge, with the pier in his view nearly at breaking point when Tommy Ware Snr and Jnr bought the attraction.

He said: ‘I can’t emphasise enough that the pier was days away from collapse, it was days from breaking its back.’

But now the attraction is nearly fully let, with 14 partners set to move in to internal sites and another negotiation ongoing this week.

Mr Belcher added: ‘Subject to final negotiations this week we’re near-on 100 per cent let, and that’s 14 new commercial partners.

‘The commercial viability of the pier has more than proven itself with the level of interest.

‘Deep Blue now looks fantastic and is a substantial investment from them in regard to the restaurant.

‘It’s Deep Blue’s flagship premises, with a 275-seater.’

It comes after Portsmouth City Council asked city magistrates to impose an order insisting building work be completed and closing the pier until it had been done.

The council said the pier, then under different owners, was dangerous.

Yesterday’s ruling means the pier and council are unlikely to need to return to court over the matter.

The jetty could be opened next year, depending on commercial deals.

There is uncertainty whether it was covered by the original order, but that is likely to be resolved out of court.

Councillor Steve Pitt is spokesman for culture for the Liberal Democrat opposition group on the city council.

He said: ‘I, with most of the Lib Dems, was at the opening of the front part earlier in the year and we were impressed with the work being done.

‘The level of investment and the effort they’ve gone to to do a really good quality job there means they deserve every success.

‘The thing people need to remember is how much work needed to be done out of public sight to make sure the steelwork was repaired, which they’ve done.’