Attractions industry news

21 Feb 2018

Stirling Prize-winning Hastings Pier up for sale

The RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Hastings Pier, designed by architecture studio dRMM, has
been put up for sale.

Property agent GVA has been instructed to offer the iconic structure to the market after the Hastings Pier Charity, which runs the asset, entered administration in November 2017.

The 280m-long (918ft), Grade II listed Victorian pier, originally opened in 1872, was virtually destroyed by fire in 2010, but was eventually rebuilt by dRMM at a cost of £14.2m (US$19.8m, €16m). They created a substantial open pier deck for large-scale concerts, markets and public gatherings; a timber-clad central hub facility with educational rooms, history exhibitions, a café and a viewing platform; and a restaurant and bar.

The pier reopened in April 2016 and was named the winner of British architecture's most prestigious accolade last year.

The unusual funding model behind the restoration – which saw 3,000 local shareholders buy a £100 stake in the project in addition to Heritage Lottery Funding – was hailed by the Stirling Prize judges as an example of how “local communities working with architects can make a huge difference” when creating unique public assets.

However, the Hastings Pier Charity’s three-year business plan to reach self-funding status – which would have seen new temporary venue added and other additions made at a cost of £800,000 (US$1.1m, €904,000) – was rejected by the major stakeholders, and the charity pledged not to ask the community to cover operational costs.

Administrator Smith & Williamson has now instructed GVA to find a buyer.

“Hastings Pier represents a unique opportunity to acquire and develop a comprehensively rebuilt and renowned seaside pier in the historical town of Hastings on the Sussex coast,” said Richard Baldwin of GVA.

“The pier has undergone a remarkable transformation, and now represents a modern, flexible, public leisure destination and venue, which retains a blend of both Victorian and modern architecture, refinement and charm. The pier is unique, and offers a custodian the opportunity to acquire a piece of Britain’s seaside heritage, with great potential as a leisure destination.”

Speaking last December, dRMM partner Alex de Rijke told the Architects’ Journal, “We are hopeful that the administrator Smith & Williamson and the community will galvanise to ensure the pier continues to serve as the social and spatial landmark of Hastings that it is.

“A pier is an expensive structure to maintain and a difficult business to run. But the Hastings community stakeholders are imaginative and determined people, and dRMM will certainly do whatever we can to help devise ways for the pier to generate more revenue.”

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