It’s unclear when restaurants and bars on Dockland’s Central Pier will be able to reopen after the structure was found to be deteriorating rapidly and posed a risk to life.

The pier is more than 100 years old and $5.2 million has been spent over the past two years to make it stable, with inspections every two months. 

There was no indication until Wednesday’s abrupt evacuation that the pier was unsafe, Development Victoria said.

“Central Pier is a popular venue and this action has not been taken lightly, but the safety of people is our number one priority,” chief executive Angela Skandarajah said on Thursday.

“As soon as we understood … there were no other options, we informed the head tenant.”

The base of the pier has deteriorated rapidly and represents an unacceptable risk to life, according to inspectors KBR Engineers.

Development Victoria can’t say when business owners will be able access their premises and what repair work is possible.

When asked about potential compensation for tenants, Development Victoria told AAP it could not discuss the issue.

It’s understood there is no automatic right for compensation under the terms of the tenants’ lease.

“There are clauses in the tenancy agreements that say ‘if we tell you you need to evacuate because its unsafe, you have to evacuate’,” Priority Precincts Minister Gavin Jennings told reporters.

“There’s a forest of pylons under a pier … if there is a deterioration in a critical part of the pylons and that support, then the whole thing has the potential to start moving.”

Tenant Central Pier Pty, also known as Atlantic Group, operates several restaurants and function spaces at the site.

Chief executive Hatem Saleh told the Herald Sun a shutdown notice was served at 4pm on Wednesday.

“Central Pier’s advice from its engineers is that only parts of Central Pier may potentially be of some concern and it does not warrant a total shutdown,” he said in a statement to the paper.

But he said the group complied with the shutdown in the interests of safety.

Some diners said they weren’t told until midway through their dinners on Wednesday night, the ABC reported.

“Development Victoria, their chairman James McKenzie and indeed the Andrews government need to come clean with the people of Victoria this morning as to how they’ve let their pier get to such a state of disrepair,” opposition planning spokesman Tim Smith told reporters.

Source: AAP

Image Source: Film Victoria