New report recommends step-by-step plan to restore Queen’s Pier

RAMSEY Pier could be restored – and progressively reopened to the public – in seven phases costing between £1.2 million and £1.7m each, a new report concludes.

But director of harbours Captain Mike Brew said that with the squeeze on public finances, there was little likelihood of Tynwald approval being sought for such a phased scheme for at least another five years.

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He said, however, that following the spending of just under £1.8 million on a project to stabilise the Victorian landmark, the ‘debate about demolition had been and gone’.

In the House of Keys, Infrastructure Minister David Cretney said that following the completion of the stabilisation and protection scheme last year, the main structure of the pier was now in good structural condition and posed a significantly smaller risk to the public and vessels.

He said the advice from engineers was that the pier’s condition could be expected to remain good and safe for at least five years.

Mr Cretney said the department would carry out inspections every six months or after any severe weather.

He said the department expected to receive a report by mid-May outlining a scheme to refurbish the whole pier on a phased basis and would consider whether to bring forward proposals at an appropriate time which, given the current financial climate, was ‘unlikely to be in the short term’.

Captain Brew said the report by BWB Consulting had been commissioned at a cost of £11,300 – paid out of the same £1.8m approved by Tynwald for the stabilisation scheme.

He said the seven planned phases, starting from the landward end, would cost between £1.2m and £1.7m each and would allow each section to be opened to the public when completed.

Mr Brew said the scheme would involve replacing everything above the pier’s legs, including the timber decking and the wrought iron lattice work beneath. The stored original balustrades would be replaced.

The total cost of the phased schemes would be £10.5 million. But the director of harbours said: ‘We are not going to spend £10.5m in one go. The pier is safe and sound. There is no likelihood we’ll be doing anything for five years – there just isn’t the money.’

He said the work was ‘relatively low tech’ – compared with the specialised stabilisation scheme – and much could be done by island-based workers.

There had been two amendment motions in Tynwald proposing demolition, he said, and neither had been approved. The likelihood of demolition being considered as an option was now much diminished. ‘The debate about demolition has been and gone, frankly,’ he said.

In the Keys, Geoff Corkish MHK asked the minister when residents and visitors could expect to use the pier and suggested that it would be a long time before money became available to restore the pier and therefore ‘there would be a good chance the £1.8m plus already spent would have been absolutely wasted?’

Friends of Queen’s Pier chairman Fred Hodgson said: ‘I’m delighted that this is not dead. Any movement has got to be a good thing. We do recognise the financial restrains the island is under. It is heartening to see the government is still taking their responsibilities to the pier seriously.’

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