A community group said it would like to support the owner of Hastings Pier but has called for more transparency between him and the community.
Friends of Hastings Pier, a community group which intended to buy the pier in the summer, made the comments after its application to have the landmark recognised as an asset of community value was accepted by the borough council.
Owner Shiekh Abid Gulzar has not commented on the council’s decision.
James Chang, from Friends of Hastings Pier, said: “We would like to be able to support Mr Gulzar in his role as current custodian of the pier.
“Indeed, we are pleased to hear that Hastings Borough Council recognise the pier as an asset to the community which has also been echoed publicly in the past by Mr Gulzar. But we need more transparency between the owner and the community about maintenance and his vision for the pier’s future.
“We have approached him several times to start a dialogue, but have yet to hear from him.”
What is an asset of community value?
According to the Localism Act (2011), an asset of community value is property of importance to a local community which receives additional protection from development.
Applications for a particular property or piece of land can be nominated by a community group to be included in its local authority’s register.
With regards to Hastings Pier, if Mr Gulzar ever intended to sell Hastings Pier he must inform the local authority.
If, for example, Friends of Hastings Pier wanted to purchase the pier from Mr Gulzar they could trigger a delay in the sale process to raise the money to purchase the asset.
The Localism Act (2011) says the owner does not have to sell to the community group. The asset of community value listing only improves the chances of community groups being able to purchase the asset by providing them with more time to raise the appropriate funds.
Mr Chang said Friends of Hastings Pier was also concerned the ‘long-standing’ engineering and maintenance team was not currently present on the pier.
He added: “Friends of Hastings Pier would like to thank Peter, Francesca and Kate for their invaluable contribution, vigilance and constant care in looking after Hastings Pier.”
Mr Gulzar said he was ‘unable to comment on matters of a confidential nature’.
In response to concerns following Saturday’s fire on Hastings Pier, Mr Gulzar added: “I do not want to respond to wild rumours from anonymous sources.
“I am happy to engage with the Hastings community at all times.
“Indeed, I am already doing that on a daily basis.
“My desire is to make Hastings Pier the best it possibly can be and my team and I have already invested significant money and time.”