Hastings Pier owner welcomes people's ideas for attraction
The owner of Hastings Pier has welcomed readers' suggestions for how to make it a 12 month of the year attraction.
Sheikh Abid Gulzar, who bought the pier in June, said he has enjoyed a busy summer but wants to make it attractive during the winter months.
On the Hastings Observer Facebook page, more than 200 readers put forward suggestions including a train to and from the pier and the Old Town, a hotel, and sheltered seating.
Responding to these suggestions, Mr Gulzar said: “The fact that this one story produced 228 comments online proves that people in Hastings are very passionate about their pier.
“And I fully understand that. It pleases me that the town cares so much about its pier, and so it should.
“My job as its very proud owner is to do what is right for the community and make the people proud of Hastings Pier.
“The ideas are varied and I have read every comment and idea that residents have posted.
“Some are easy fixes, some are a challenge and some, due to cost and possible planning permission, would never happen.
“I have to work with Hastings Borough Council when I want to make changes and additions.
“I’m not sure, for example, that they would approve a hotel being built on the pier, although of course that is part of my business portfolio in Eastbourne.
“I own two hotels in Eastbourne and one in Hailsham, and I am very proud of all three.”
Mr Gulzar said he wants to establish something that is sustainable.
He said ideas such as a miniature railway, ice skate area, cinema and a helicopter pad are ‘admirable’ but ‘everything has to be costed’.
He added: “I’m not going to start making promises that I can’t keep. That would be foolish.
“Where I would like to start is with some of the community ideas presented to me. We have to get the core right first.
“Someone asked for a second cafe, well, we have opened a second now at the far end of the pier.
“Amusement arcades is something else we have recently introduced to Eastbourne Pier and is something we are looking at for Hastings too. It would be very popular I am sure.”
Mr Gulzar has submitted an application to Hastings Borough Council for five retail units on the pier.
He described suggestions of selling local produce and crafts from these units as ‘another winner that would go down very well’.
He added: “As for a music venue, we have already staged music nights and these have proved popular. I would like to do more,
“Sheltered seating is also important and is something we are looking at, though of course there are inside seating areas.
“The outside benches are also very popular.
“I welcome everyone’s input. There are no rash promises for me, we are working seven days a week to make Hastings Pier more popular and more successful.
“I’m confident we have made a good start.”