THE FIRST piece of new decking was laid on the pier on Tuesday (March 4) by the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Hastings, Sarah Owen.
The pier’s renovation, which is being funded by the Lottery Heritage Fund, other public sources and community shareholders, has started a new phase.
The work, which is on target, is ten per cent complete and is expected to be finished by 2015.
Simon Opie, the Hastings Pier Charity’s chief executive officer, said: “Fingers crossed it’s going well and you can see today we are laying the first of the new planks.
“We are working our way from the road progressively out towards the pier head and the seaward end, and thus far we are very pleased with the progress.
“There’s still quite a bit to do and we’ve got a good year’s work ahead of us before the pier will be ready to reopen.”
Simon told the Observer that the most challenging part of the renovation would be coordinating all the work.
He said: “At the moment we are working on the open deck area.
“The substructure at this end of the pier is relatively less damaged than further out.
“As we get towards the mid-section there is a lot more to do in terms of restoration of the steel work and then, as we get to later in the year we have two or three operations going on at the same time, so we have to coordinate that.”
To document the progression of the pier’s restoration, a webcam has been installed outside the White Rock Hotel.
The webcam takes a picture every 60 seconds, day and night, and can be accessed by visiting the Hastings Pier Charity’s website.
“We wanted to record the measurable progress of the pier but also, as we build-up shareholders and members we wanted people to be able to log on and see the progress for themselves. I think that’s a really important aspect of the project.
“We have 1,200 shareholders and by the time we finish maybe we’ll have 1,500 and that’s quite a challenge.
“So we were mindful of the fact that as we build a large number of supporters, we need to stay in touch with those people and we need to make sure that we have the proper channels of communication.”
Just over £13.5 million has been raised but charity has been looking for an additional £500,000 in order to complete the work and buy new attractions for the pier.
To raise the remaining funds, it has been offering, until April, the opportunity to buy community shares in the pier.
On Tuesday, GMB presented a £5,000 cheque to the charity, contributing to the community share offer, which has so far raised £260,000.
Simon added: “This money is needed to fund what we want on the pier, a bar, brasserie, deckchair rental, children’s playground, Heritage Centre, space for weddings and civil ceremonies, farmer’s market - attractions that will bring locals and visitors alike to the pier.”