THE prospect of Hastings’ historic pier being restored to its former glory moved another dramatic step closer last night.
The Government has confirmed that a compulsory purchase order of the pier from its Panamanian owners, Ravenclaw, can go ahead.
This latest twist in the long-running saga gives the council and the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust (HPWRT) the green light to go ahead with the purchase of the pier as soon as the Trust’s funding is in place.
Ravenclaw have been issued with the compulsory purchase order after it missed a deadline to start repairs to the pier which was ravaged by fire almost two years ago.
Council Leader Jeremy Birch said: “This is excellent news, and a major step forward in returning Hastings Pier to its rightful place as a major attraction on our seafront.
“I know that a huge amount of work has gone into getting this result, and I would like to thank everyone involved, especially, of course, the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust.”
The council and the trust have been working hard to allow Hastings Pier to rise like a phoenix from the flames after the fire which almost destroyed the 140-year-old landmark in October 2010.
HPWRT is hoping to secure lottery funding this November to move the project forward to renovate the pier and incorporate a new visitors’ centre. The Western Pavilion, which survived the fire, will become a restaurant and a bar.
Jess Steele, one of the founding trustees, described the announcement as a very important day in the history of the Victorian pier.
She said: “This is brilliant, and a real cause for celebration.
“These things do take time, but this makes all of the work which has been going on behind the scenes worth it. We know that there is still a lot of hard work ahead and we’ll need the ongoing support of local people and businesses.
“We are now eagerly awaiting the announcement from the Heritage Lottery Fund, expected in November, which we hope will allow us to take ownership of the pier and get on with bringing it back to life.”