Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust realised that it had to build community support and succeeded in persuading the local council to compulsorily purchase the pier, the only way of acquiring the structure from its owners, a defunct off-shore company. It launched a Facebook campaign called the Battle for Hastings Pier, which has over 3,700 followers.
On 10th May, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced it has given the green light to support the Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust (HPWRT) in their bid to save Hastings Pier, East Sussex.
Development funding of £357,400 has been awarded by HLF to enable the Trust to move to the next stage of its plans before a final decision is made on a full HLF grant of £8.75m.
HPWRT's project involves the heritage-led transformation of the pier by restoring the substructure, deck and railings; and redeveloping the above deck. A restoration programme will preserve the Eugenius Birch structure, as well as introducing new structural elements. An accompanying education programme will deliver learning opportunities for all ages and include hands-on heritage learning and, in association with Sussex Coast College Hastings, apprenticeships to develop the next generation of pier engineers. Much of this will be run from a purpose-built Heritage Learning Centre on the pier.
The commercial programme involves establishing the People's Pier Company, a community-shareholder owned management company run by an experienced leisure management team, to manage the pier. The commercial and educational activities will provide employment and volunteering opportunities for Hastings.
By the end of this project, the pier will be structurally sound and a great investment platform for the future, a catalyst for the economic, social and cultural regeneration of Hastings and the British seaside.
This is a great moment to celebrate the dogged persistence of the local trust and the wider community over the past five years, especially now that the new Hastings Pier Charity has received charitable status.
The news is particularly welcome in the wake of the devastating news of the pier fire on 5th October. The Trust continuid their work to raise funds and have been overwhelmed by the fantastic response from everyone who has contacted them.
In response to people asking how they can help, HPWRT have decided to bring forward their Sponsor A Plank initiative. http://hpwrt.co.uk/