The next few days are vital in the fight to save Hastings Pier, as the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) trustees travel to town on Friday to look at the iconic heritage building, before formally meeting in mid-November to consider the bid for funding from the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust (HPWRT).
Simon Opie, chief executive of HPWRT, explained:“The next month really is vital for the future of this much-loved building. Quite simply, without HLF support, there is little prospect of it being restored.
“Whilst obviously badly damaged in the fire of October 2010, the basic structure, designed by the great Victorian pier-builder Eugenius Birch, survives, as does part of the original bandstand pavilion, which will become a feature of our new vision for the pier.
“We know that visitors love coming to the seaside, and a visit to the pier is part of our heritage :- Hastings without a pier is just unthinkable.
“The HLF have been very sympathetic so far, and I do hope they will be able to find the money necessary to allow us to start the first phase of conservation and restoration.”
Cllr Peter Chowney, deputy leader and lead member for regeneration at Hastings Borough Council, agreed: “We have seen some very welcome investment in Hastings over recent years, and there is a real positive feel about our future. Our seafront is a key part of that – it’s our shop window, it’s what investors see in our town, it’s what leaves them with a lasting impression. The rebuilding of Hastings pier is an essential part of that, it will allow investment in other seafront structures – and that’s crucial for the regeneration of the town. We believe it would cost around £4m just to demolish, money we simply haven’t got, nor would want to use in this way if we had :- far better that we work with HLF and other funders, with support from ourselves too, to restore this historic structure to its rightful place as the brightest jewel on our seafront.”