Is it the end of the pier for Hastings?

The seaside town’s Sterling prize-winning pier seemed like a victory for community goodwill, lottery money and visionary design – until it went bust and was sold off for a mere £60,000. Now it’s shut…

It all looked so promising. Hastings pier, fire-wrecked – seemingly doomed, like fellow structures around the seaside towns of Britain, to perpetual failure – was gloriously rescued. Public money joined forces with community enterprise in a pioneering and exemplary case of what David Cameron used to call the Big Society. The Heritage Lottery Fund put up £13m, and more than 3,000 individuals bought shares totalling £590,000. A handsome new deck and superstructure were installed, clear where it had previously been cluttered, described by its architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan as “a canvas where people bring the colour.” The 2017 Stirling prize, awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects for the best building project of the year, went to the renovation.

It was a great open space, pregnant with possibility, on which temporary constructions could be built to serve whatever events – music, markets, parties – might be desired. At the same time it was uncrowded, a place to wander, breathe the sea air and take in the sweeping views of a town which, tatty at the edges, doesn’t know how beautiful it is. It was to be sociable – the “town square that Hastings doesn’t have”, as dRMM’s Alex de Rijke put it. The style of the architecture was plain, relying on the beauty of the deck’s bare boards, with a few playful twists. It aimed not to obstruct the experience of air, view and sea.

You’re not selling a corner shop. It’s Hastings pier, a Stirling winner, yet they seemed hell-bent on pushing one buyer

Following the news that Hastings Pier will remain closed past March, I update residents in my open letter below

Continue reading...