AFTER five long years of delays South Parade Pier will finally reopen to the public next week, The News can reveal.
The Southsea landmark will finally lift up the shutters on Good Friday following £5m of improvements to get residents back on the 137-year-old Victorian structure.
It comes after the lifting of a court restriction which allowed the Grade-II listed site to allow residents to walk up to just past the former Albert Tavern Bar.
It is the hope of the owners – Tommy Ware Jnr and Tommy Ware Snr – that following the outcome of a final court ruling in the coming months, visitors will be allowed to walk out to the pier’s head by the end of the year.
A statement from the owners said: ‘Following an investment of over £5m we are thrilled to announce the reopening of the pier.
‘It is great that we have been able to provide trading space for both local businesses and national companies who will be bringing much-needed employment opportunities to people in the Portsmouth area.’
Following an investment of over £5m we are thrilled to announce the re-opening of the pierStatement from owners Tommy Ware Jnr and Tommy Ware Snr
An arcade centre at the front of the pier – run by the Harry Levy Group – will open on the Friday and will be followed by 275-seater restaurant Deep Blue opening up in the Albert Tavern Bar from August.
The Gaiety function showroom, a zip wire, rides, more cafes and an ice cream parlour are all set to open during the coming months.
Work to ensure that the structure was safe were completed at the end of last year.
Malcolm Belcher, the project survey for South Parade Pier Ltd said: ‘This is some very exciting news and it will a historic moment on Good Friday when the crowds return to the pier.
‘These are very exciting times for the city with so much set to happen over the coming months.’
The pier was originally closed by Portsmouth City Council in 2012 and an order was made in 2014 excluding the public from the pier.
The order has been amended over the last few years, most recently on Monday, in order to allow further parts of the pier to be opened.
The project has faced its setbacks over the years due to poor weather and the identification of further structural issues about the pier and was hoped to be open in time for both America’s Cup series events in 2015 and 2016.
Dr Anya Chapman, honorary secretary of the National Piers Society said: ‘We are impressed to see the regeneration and refurbishment of South Parade Pier and the millions that have been invested in the pier’s substructure and entertainment areas.’
People will be able to walk on to the pier and get to the arcade from 9am.