YEARS of repair works are set to take place on Southend Pier in a bid to “significantly increase its life expectancy”.

The 1.3mile pier is one of Southend’s top attractions but the Prince George extension is in a “poor state of repair” and in urgent need of improvement.

Southend is known for having the world’s longest pleasure pier, which was achieved thanks to the Prince George extension – which was opened by the man himself in 1929.

Now, repair plans have been approved but are expected to take “several years”.

Councillor Tony Cox, leader of Southend Council, said: “It is just a continuous amount of money that we are ploughing in to keep the maintenance and making sure our world-famous pier is still with us.

“Because if we didn’t do this, then we would have piers, like Brighton, that would routinely disappear into the sea.

“We believe the pier to be an icon and it will be something we will always continue to invest in to make sure we have the pier for many years to come.”

The Prince George Extension is made up of a different design to that of the main stretch of the pier. The pier is constructed of structural ironwork but the extension used reinforced concrete columns and beams with an upper and lower deck.

The work will see a concrete cover removed and repaired, and the re-casting of concrete beams.

Last year, the pier saw a record-breaking number of visitors and is on track to break that record again this year.

By May half-term 2023, 50,890 visitors had taken a trip down the iconic pier.

The pier is a grade II listed building and is an important part of the heritage of the town.

The works are likely to have a “minimal impact” on the appearance of the pier and it will remain open as work takes place.

Approving the planning appication, a planning officer concluded: “Although this system would have a minimal impact on the overall visual character of the pier structure, it would introduce new modern technology internal to the columns thereby altering the built fabric.

“However, the very poor condition of the structure and the presence of ‘black rust’, which cannot be easily identified, makes cosmetic repairs high risk as defects could easily go undetected until failure of the concrete occurs.”