Pier group urgently seeking £1m to rescue ownership bid

Hastings Pier. Photo by Eddie Mitchell.
Hastings Pier. Photo by Eddie Mitchell.

A group seeking to keep Hastings Pier in public ownership says it has less than a week to raise £1 million or else it will be removed from the bidding process.

Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) says it needs to raise the sum by Tuesday (April 24) in order to prove its viability to GVA – the property firm appointed by administrators to handle the sale of the much-loved landmark.

Earlier this week the group, which represents many of the pier’s community shareholders, revealed the details of the business plan it had submitted as part of its bid to takeover the freehold of the pier.

The business plan sees the group set out its hopes to keep the pier’s freehold within public ownership by partnering with a commercial operator, which would run the ‘top’ of the pier and lease space from a body set up to maintain the pier’s structure.

A spokesman for FOHP said: “Without financial backing in place, we will be out of the bidding by Tuesday.

“We know the funds and funders we can ask but that takes time of which we no longer have. So dig deep guys.

“If we can come up with £1 million that means we can have breathing space and time to apply to other funders and raise money generally.

“Our business plan is solid, we know we can make the pier profitable, we just need the chance to prove it.”

FOHP’s business plan estimates the need for around £3m of new investment to make the pier into a successful commercial venture.

The group says half this money could be raised through creating new community shareholders, taking out loans and forming private sponsorship deals. The other £1.5m is hoped to be found from grant funding provided by groups including the Heritage Lottery Fund, FOHP says.

It also asks that three of Hastings Pier Charity’s unsecured creditors – who FOHP estimates to be owed around £450,000 between them – accept a write down of around a third to bring the total owed down to an estimated £300,000.

A FOHP spokesman said: “We propose to take Hastings Pier Charity (HPC) out of administration as a reborn organisation fully owned by its 5,000 community shareholders, with a new elected board of trustees to oversee the implementation of a clear and fundable recovery plan.

"HPC will retain its freehold ownership of Hastings Pier and be responsible for the upkeep of the ‘bottom’ (ie the structure) in perpetuity, costed at £250k pa index-linked. This will be achieved through a full commercialisation of the ‘top’. This model of separation is operated by several piers nationally, including Bournemouth and Cromer."

Anyone interested in pledging money is asked to contact friendsofhastingspier@gmail.com. The group says it intends to return all of the money pledged if its bid is unsuccessful.