Pier plans given boost by £11.4m of lottery cash

22/11/12- Hastings Pier trustees and supporters
22/11/12- Hastings Pier trustees and supporters

THE REBUILDING of the pier has moved a giant leap closer thanks to £11.4million of lottery funding.

It was announced on Monday (November 19) that the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) bid for money from the Heritage Lottery Fund had been successful.

This is the bulk of the total £13.9million needed.

Simon Opie, chief executive of HPWRT, admitted there had been no Plan B and said: “This is a brilliant decision by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the future of the pier and the future of Hastings.”

Mr Opie added: “Now we need to get ready to deliver the project. We have a terrific responsibility that comes alongside this award from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“Having said that it is a momentous decision and we should celebrate our success.

“We have to take the opportunity to say thank you for all of the support that has been given to this project. Without the level of commitment the project would never have got to this stage.”

He added that the level of public engagement with the project so far had been a unique factor.

Councillor Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “This is excellent news for Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT), all supporters and of course residents of and visitors to Hastings.”

The remainder of the funding is to come from a variety of sources, including the Coastal Communities Fund, Hastings Borough Council, and a Community Shares Scheme, which is to be launched by Jo Brand at her Stand Up for Hastings Pier comedy show on March 30, and will give ordinary people a chance to have a say in running the pier.

Hastings MP Amber Rudd said: “I am in awe of the talent and commitment of the local people supporting the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust, and believe the whole town owes them a huge debt of gratitude for their determination and enthusiasm that led to this fantastic result.”

The designs for the new pier have been drawn up by firm of architects dRMM, and aim to provide a modern pier, but with links to its Victorian history.

The next step is for the Compulsory Purchase Order to be activated by the council and ownership of the pier to be transferred to HPWRT.

Following this, work is due to begin in Spring 2013. The structure, ravaged by fire in October 2010, will be made safe before the first phase of development, which will bring a new visitor centre, a redeveloped Western Pavilion as bar and bar and restaurant, and an open space extremely flexible in terms of seasonal uses.

The programme is likely to include the likes of musical events, outdoor cinema, public art, a summer circus, and winter ice skating.

A community showroom is to be established at White Rock Baths, where members of the public will have access to the detailed plans, and be able to see how work is progressing.

Speaking of the importance of the pier to Hastings and St Leonards, Mr Opie said: “If you can demonstrate to people that something like that can be turned around, that has a really important psychological effect as well as an economic effect.”

“All along it has been clear that people want us to respect the heritage but provide something that is relevant to the 21st century. There won’t be another pier like it.”