Exclusive: A first look at the new pier

Impression of the redeveloped pier
Impression of the redeveloped pier

THIS is the first glimpse of the future of Hastings pier.

These stunning new images of the redesigned pier have been drawn up by top architects dRMM, led by Michael Spooner, and show a state-of-the-art development fit for the 21st century.

Architects impression of how the pier will be developed in phases one and two of the project

Architects impression of how the pier will be developed in phases one and two of the project

Simon Opie, chairman of the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT), is confident it will become an asset that the town can be proud of.

A new Visitor Centre, featuring an interactive heritage project, shop, and space for talks, film screenings, education projects, or musical performances are part of the plans.

There will also be a redeveloped Western Pavilion as a bar and restaurant offering locally sourced produce as well as training opportunities for local people; and an open space with a wide range of seasonal uses, such as open air cinema, festivals, a market, and an ice rink.

Mr Opie said: “A lot of the plans we have developed have come out of the public consultation.

“Our first job is to create a stable platform, that is the key.

“It is a modern approach, there’s no doubt about that. That’s what people told us through the consultation they wanted.”

It is hoped that through Compulsory Purchase Order, the council will have ownership of Hastings Pier by the end of the year, quickly passing it to the Hastings Pier Charity, established specifically for the purpose of safeguarding the pier.

The day-to-day running of the pier will be managed by a social enterprise.

Mr Opie added: “The reason why we are putting in place this ownership structure for the pier is that it is the best way to sustain it for the future.

“The pier has to be a viable economic entity in its own right and that is the challenge.”

A Community Showroom will be established at the end of this year, where all the plans will be on display, and the first phase of the project is due to begin in April 2013, and be completed by 2014.

Work carried out as part of this phase will be restoration of the substructure and deck devastated by the fire in October 2010, development of the existing Western Pavilion, and construction of a Visitor Centre.

The designs are modern, the decking is the same hardwearing mix of recycled hard wood and plastic used at the Olympic site, and there is the possibility that a photovoltaic membrane will cover the sliding canopy, which is part of phase two, to improve energy efficiency.

The plan is for the majority of funding for the multi-million pound project to come from a Heritage Lottery Fund Major Project Grant Award, which could provide up to 90 per cent of the £13.5million needed for the first phase.

Also in the fundraising strategy is a Community Share scheme which aims to promote real community ownership of the pier, along with support from the Communitybuilders Fund for the Visitor Centre, and the Coastal Communities Fund for the Western Pavilion.

Mr Opie said that the pier would need a minimum of 300,000 visitors a year in order to be a success, and is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead, adding: “My job is not so much to restore a pier but to create a business that can deliver success for the project, that means long-term economic viability.”