The Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP) organised a public meeting at the White Rock Theatre on Monday April 23 and urged shareholders, locals or anyone interested in saving the pier to attend. The aim of the meeting was to explain that since it went into administration FOHP has re-formed as a voice for the shareholders and supporters. They are trying to submit an ambitious £3 million bid to save the pier from being sold to a private individual or company.
“The people of Hastings saved our pier. We think we should keep it,” they say. “We fought so hard to save it, let’s not lose it now!” They are hoping to raise half the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the rest through other grants, loans and crowd-funding as well as private sponsorship in the hope that the pier structure can be kept in community ownership.
The auditorium was packed. Each speaker supported their talk with pictures on a big screen. Steve Manwaring, Director of Hastings Voluntary Action, chaired the meeting and the Q&A session afterwards. He said the audience should listen to the ideas and help shaping them to take the plans of FOHP forward.
Jess Steele, OBE, who was the leader of the core concept of the initial fund raising group to rebuild the burnt-out pier, spoke first. She explained their idea of a possible plan very clearly. The wish is for People’s Pier Project (People’s Pier Project investigates how piers are changing from simple pleasure palaces with gambling machines and rides to hubs for hosting community events including pop up cinemas, music and food festivals. Presently they are concentrating on two piers, Hastings Pier and Clevedon pier which is in Somerset) to hold the freehold to keep the structure in community ownership and be operated by a commercial organisation which could pay a rent or have a long-term lease.
She also explained that FOHP knew that getting the funds to rebuild the structure was phase one and hoped to have time to plan phase two which was to have an interim business plan for getting more funding to pay back the losses and look forward to building up the commercial part which would bring in future finances.
It appears that there had been no breathing space before administration took over and FOHP is asking administrators to give more time and exclusivity because that would allow the funds needed to be procured.
We heard from Adam Wide who said he had a long record of experience bringing piers back to life with exciting, dynamic, contemporary ideas including quality content. He was part of a company which re-vitalised Bournemouth Pier. Adam has many credentials, having worked in event management/planning, public relations, has organised corporate events, is a brand developer and knows about digital marketing. He wants the pier to be an event space from morning until midnight as happened in Bournemouth within two years of his involvement.
He suggested options (not a slot machine in sight) such as a carousel where the animals are made of driftwood. Mr Wide wants to create a two-storey build on the deck which could be adjusted to suit different events. This could become the entertainment hub, generating revenue by profitable programming, live shows, comedy, cabaret, night club, ball room dance hall, screen sports events and other live screenings. During the day there could be yoga classes and children’s activities.
He suggested a climbing wall but was asked if the insurance would be expensive. Mr Wide said there were many risk assessments to be done which would impact on insurance but it was overcome in Bournemouth and he was convinced it could be in Hastings.
Architect Alex De Rijke from dRMM architects showed the previous design for rebuild after the fire and new designs for any planned new building/s with a new, sustainable type of inflated plastic for a bubble roof to give cover but which would also let in light and fit into the environment, as at the Eden Project in Cornwall.
More and continued information can be found on the pier website.
Photo downloaded website, Hastings Pier