The restoration of the main pier in Seahouses, which was all lined up to take place this summer, has been delayed for a year.
The £3million scheme, which is being led by Northumberland County Council and funded by the Environment Agency , will see the whole pier ‘re-skinned’, ensuring it remains in good condition for years to come.
Exposure to the elements and constant buffeting by the sea means the structure is in poor condition – with only 10 to 15 years of usable life left in it.
But while everything appeared to be in place, there is now frustration due to a late requirement for additional environmental information.
The council had undertaken a detailed ecological study as part of the licence application due to the pier being within a marine conservation area.
However, as a result of a legal ruling relating to a scheme elsewhere in the UK, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has now sought additional information for the Seahouses project, which means the works have to be reprogrammed for 2019.
Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, county councillor for the Seahouses area, broke the news at Monday’s quarterly meeting of the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) with most members unaware of the delay.
“It’s very frustrating because car-parking improvements and streetscape works in Seahouses have been moved to accommodate the pier works,” he said.
“The county council has put in significant resources and it applied to the MMO for a licence well before it needed to.”
Stakeholders, including local businesses, have been advised that the works will now be rescheduled.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “Seahouses Pier is a vital piece of infrastructure for businesses and tourists and it’s very important this work gets done.
“I would stress the pier remains perfectly safe for all those who use it and we will keep everyone updated as we plan towards the works next summer.”
In February, it was reported that the renovation was all set to get started, with the funding in place for April.
Councillors were told that a funding bid to the European Regional Development Fund had been unsuccessful, but a grant from the Environment Agency (EA) had been allocated.
A solution was found to reduce the scope of works and adopt innovative construction techniques in order to drop the project cost down from £4.5million to £3.3million so it could be funded by the EA grant alone.
Councillors agreed to allocate another £85,000 for pre-construction work as the scheme had changed, on top of the previous £175,000, to ensure the planning was completed by the end of March. This £260,000 was to be recovered from the EA.
By Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service