ROKER Pier has been closed until further notice due to heavy storm damage.
Rough weather forced council chiefs to close the historic pier as a routine precaution to protect visitors.
It has been suggested the pier could remain shut for a month to allow repair work on decking and railings – keeping it closed for the rest of the school summer holidays.
Experts at Sunderland Council are still counting the cost of the damage and the Echo understands a meeting will take place today to discuss a possible repair timetable.
Coun John Kelly, cabinet member for safer city and culture, said: “The city council’s aim is to re-open our popular and historic pier as soon as possible.
“Residents and visitors to the seafront will have seen for themselves how heavy seas dramatically crash against the lighthouse and waves can run the length of the Grade II-listed pier.”
The pier was closed to the public on July 21, due to the northerly winds causing very rough sea conditions.
Coun Kelly said the pier is regularly closed when there are northerly winds and a heavy swell, which he said can happen at any time of the year.
“These heavy seas continued through the weekend of July 23 and 24 and there was a structural inspection on July 27 when sea conditions improved.
“The inspection revealed damage to the pier decking and that railings had been torn away making it unsafe for the public.”
A notice has been placed on the pier gates and resorts staff are informing the public that the pier will be closed until further notice.
Essential maintenance work was already being carried out in advance of the installation of the new pier gates.
It is believed the storm damage could delay the replacement of the “prison-like” gates at the Edwardian-era Roker Pier, which opened in 1903 after an 18-year building project.
It is now a focal point of plans to revamp the sea front.
Echo readers helped choose the design for a new set of gates, aimed at combining function with art to create a new waterside icon.
Artist Fiona Heron’s £75,000 “Lightwave” work is in the final stages of construction at Washington-based Architectural Metalworkers, Crowther Industrial Estate.
The new gates will feature stainless steel bars, with different finishes and at various angles, to create an optical illusion resembling a wave.
Coun Kelly said: “A works timetable is now being drawn-up for the repairs and installing new pier gates.”
St Peter’s ward councillor Lilian Walton said she had been told the work would take between three and four weeks to complete.
She said: “We have had a lot of stormy weather and we do get waves coming right across the pier.”