THE ownership of Hastings Pier could be in the hands of the borough council this summer after solicitors issued a compulsory purchase order.
The move heralds the first steps of the listed structure moving into public ownership.
Lead member for regeneration councillor Peter Chowney attached the order to the gates at the entrance to the pier yesterday (Thursday).
The order states anyone has the right to make an objection to the Secretary of State for Culture within 28 days.
If there are no objections then the Secretary could make a decision in July handing total ownership and control of the pier to the council. The council then plans to wait until the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust has all the appropriate funding in place before potentially handing over the keys next year.
So far Panama-based owner Ravenclaw has ignored a reparation notice and all attempts by the council to make contact. The authority has already spent £150,000 on scaffolding, debris clearance and security costs since the pier was ravaged by fire in October 2010.
Councillor Chowney said: “This is another step in the right direction. It is very unlikely that we shall ever hear from Ravenclaw again.”