Council’s pier bill could hit the £1 million mark

THE council’s efforts to save Hastings Pier could top the £1 million mark, it has been revealed.

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) has already earmarked £850,000 for the project, not including the time spent by officers on drawing up plans for the pier’s future. And in the worst case scenario, in the unlikely event that the Government orders a public enquiry into the authority’s efforts to force through the sale of the pier, that would cost up to £250,000.

It was also announced that The Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) has applied for £8.79 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the initial renovation of the 138-year-old pier which was devastated by a fire in October. The trust will find out in April if it has been successful in the first round of the process which would mean it would get a grant to fully develop their proposals.

At last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to begin issuing a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) against the pier’s owners Ravenclaw Investments. Simon Hubbard, director of regeneration at HBC, said: “As far as we know the pier is still owned by Ravenclaw but there has been no contact from them and they have taken no action to deal with the consequences of the fire.”

The report set out the council’s financial commitment to saving the pier, with £254,000 spent on safety measures such as security guards and emergency engineering work since the fire. It has also set aside £200,000 towards buying the pier, and £250,000 as a potential match to any successful lottery bid. £51,000 has been spent on supporting the HPWRT, architect’s fees and specialist advice. A further £107,000 has been spent on legal fees around the CPO process, which was set aside from the Seaside Strategic Initiative pot.

Cllr Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration, said: “I am still enthusiastic and reasonably optimistic.”