STRUGGLING shopkeepers on a rundown parade on Hastings seafront may be asked to contribute thousands of pounds towards returning it to its Victorian splendour.
Details of the ambitious scheme for Pelham Arcade emerged at a borough council planning meeting on Wednesday evening.
Councillors approved the project to restore the 19th century existing roof with a smart zinc and glass covering.
Permission was also granted for the replacement of the shop fronts with traditional timber arches and a central glazed door in a scheme which could cost several hundred thousands of pounds.
The aim of the plan is to allow the owners of the shops to apply to English Heritage for funding for the work.
As the building is grade II* listed the scheme must now be approved by the Secretary of State to allow any alterations to take place.
During the meeting councillor Emily Westley said: “This is long overdue. These shops have been an absolute eyesore for such a long time and detract from the beauty of the buildings around it.”
But one shop owner later told the Observer that he would not be putting any money into the scheme.
He said: “I am selling up and moving out. I don’t have money to pump into this scheme and I’m sure the rest of us don’t either. We’re in the middle of a recession at the moment. It’s a good idea at the wrong time.
“The council should be more worried about how it is going to bring more tourists into this town.”
English Heritage team leader Peter Kendall confirmed the scheme would only work if sufficient funding was available from his organisation, the council and shop owners.
Mr Kendall said: “This scheme is going to require large sums of money - several hundred thousands of pounds. We do not have an open cheque book and it will only be feasible if sufficient funding can be found between the three parties; the council, ourselves and the shopkeepers.
“It is a high priority for us and we’re trying to help the owners to improve their business and protect the important architectural heritage of the town.”