SUNDERLAND City Council is seeking planning permission to restore one of Sunderland’s best loved and iconic landmarks for future generations.
This would see the entire length of historic Roker Pier resurfaced for the first time in the pier’s 111 year history.
More than a century of high seas and storms have taken their toll on the pier, with hundreds of metres of railings lost into the sea over the years.
Just last autumn a huge chunk of the concrete surface was torn up by crashing waves and in December waves of up to 30ft high forced the closure of the pier for several days.
And although storm damage has necessitated regular repairs to the surface over the years it has now reached the stage where the pier has to be closed regularly because of trip hazards and other dangers resulting from the loss of large areas of the deck.
The planned resurfacing is the latest phase of a £1.35m rolling programme of restoration for the Grade II listed pier announced by Sunderland City Council last February.
This began with the restoration of the lantern house at the top of the lighthouse which was completed in November.
Cabinet Secretary, Councillor Mel Speding said: “Roker Pier is one of our best-loved landmarks. It was built to protect the entrance to Sunderland harbour from the ravages of high winds and crashing waves and it’s done that for over a hundred years.
“But there are only so many times you can carry out repairs and we’ve now got to the stage where we need to replace the entire surface to protect it for future generations to enjoy.
“Unfortunately there’s never going to be an ideal time to do this vital work and undoubtedly people and groups who regularly use the pier will be disappointed about the disruption. We can’t carry out the work in the winter because of the weather so if we get planning permission we’re hoping to press ahead this spring and summer in the hope that we can reopen the pier in November.”
If given the go-ahead, work will include below water repairs to the foundations of the pier, repointing areas of the pier walls which need it and the renewal of the concrete pier deck in keeping with its existing original cobbled patterned design.
As with any scheme there is some cost uncertainty until work is fully progressed, if budget allows then plans are in place for shotblasting, redecoration and reinstatement of the original Victorian handrail, within the same contract period.
The pier will close from 1 April 2014 to allow work to go ahead over the summer, when weather conditions are most favourable and should allow for the pier to be closed for a shorter time than if the work was carried out over winter. The scheme should be complete by winter 2014.