Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Save our Pier

The night of the fire - the Pier can rise from the ashes
So the Heritage Lottery Fund has backed the rescue of Hastings Pier. That’s great news for the town and a huge tribute to the campaigners in the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust who have put some much time and effort into this.

Now of course the really hard but potentially very exciting work starts.

HLF have awarded £375,000 to the Trust as the down payment on the full £8.75 million that was asked for. But the Trust is expected to use the £375,000 to build up a sustainable business plan and a totally convincing project that will then unlock the full award.

So there has to be a financially convincing plan drawn up to show how the Pier can be managed and maintained in the long-term. There has to be a clear indication that businesses will decide to operate on the Pier to create the income that will pay for the long-term maintenance.

There has to be a detailed design for what will now be built on top of the listed sub-structure and this has to receive its planning and listed building permission.

Perhaps even more challenging than all this – the Pier Trust has to raise 10% of the £8.75 million itself. Hastings has to show it really does want the Pier restored by raising £875,000.

The council has earmarked £250,000 as part of this match-funding but there will need to be a lot of sponsored planks to raise the rest. It really is up to local people to do their bit.

The council has actually spent around £700,000 in all on the Pier – clearing the debris and the most dangerous bits of metal and wood after the fire, paying for the architects to prepare the new plans and securing the most vulnerable middle section so there isn’t a collapse before the HLF money can start being spent.

And of course the council has agreed to compulsorily purchase the structure and then to pass its ownership on to the Pier Trust.

There are still risks and pitfalls. There are certainly still big challenges but the HLF’s decision is the best news we could have hoped for and makes the rescue of Hastings Pier a real possibility.