The leader of Hastings Borough Council faced questions on how the authority will be working with the new owner of Hastings Pier this week.
This follows the news in June that the RIBA award-winning landmark was sold to Eastbourne Pier owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar by the administrators of the Hastings Pier Charity.
At a full council meeting on Monday (July 23), Andy Patmore (Con, Maze Hill) asked council leader Peter Chowney if he would make sure the council worked with the new owner.
Cllr Chowney said: “He has got some good ideas and if he has the money to carry them out there are some interesting things that could happen there. I think he has to be careful about making sure he connects with the people of Hastings and involves them in his plans.
“Obviously there has been some opposition to this, to the process certainly. I know some people are a bit suspicious about the way it happened and about the new owner. I think he has got to reach out to the people who have been critical and get them involved in the running of the pier in the future.
“He also has to realise that it is a Grade II listed structure and that anything that happens on there – from new huts to paint – does need listed building consent. We have made all that clear to him but having said that we are also prepared to work with him on his future plans for the pier.
“As I say, some of them do sound quite interesting, but it is probably better for them to come from him.”
Cllr Chowney faced a follow-up question later in the meeting from John Rankin (Con, Conquest).
Cllr Rankin said: “I’d like to ask you about your hopes and aspirations for the pier Mr Chowney and whether Hastings Borough Council as a corporation has some kind of manifesto or working document or some kind of idea of what it would like to see on the pier.”
In response Cllr Chowney said: “I think the answer to that is no we don’t because we don’t own it, we don’t control it.
“We were happy to work with whoever the owner ended up being to put together some kind of planning policy because it is a Grade II listed building. We would need to bring Historic England in to work with the new pier owner and council to work out what can be developed on the pier.
“I think it is down to the pier owner to come to us with ideas and it would be inappropriate for us to go to Mr Gulzar and say ‘we want this.’
“We will be offering advice and help through the planning system, but I don’t think we will be going to him to say ‘this is what we should be doing on the pier’ because I think that would be presumptuous really.”