News that Hastings Pier has been designated by the borough council as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) has been warmly welcomed by campaigners.
The application for the pier to be recognised as an ACV was made by The Friends of Hastings Pier earlier this year, it was then up to Hastings Borough Council (HBC) officials to consider the matter under their delegated powers.
The news has been warmly welcomed by supporters of Friends of Hastings Pier (FOHP), the group that fought a lengthy battle at the beginning of the year to try to secure the future of the pier in community ownership. FOHP mounted a bid to buy it out of administration but that bid ultimately failed when, in June, administrators chose to sell the award winning Victorian structure to Sheikh Abid Gulzar, the owner of Eastbourne Pier.
Following the council’s decision to classify the pier as an ACV Mr Gulzar now has eight weeks to appeal the council’s decision.
Meanwhile FOHP is planning an informal meeting on the December 1st to see where it goes next. High on the agenda for that meeting will be a discussion on reports that maintenance and engineering staff are no longer working on the pier. Another group has been set up on Facebook called ‘Where Do We Go From Pier’ behind it is Peter Fairless who has tirelessly campaigned against the decision made by administrators Smith & Williamson to sell the pier to Mr Gulzar.
Find links to these Facebook groups by following these links at the bottom of the page.
Hastings In Focus has asked for a comment from Mr Gulzar on the issue of the pier being granted ACV status and on the position of the engineering staff but so far we have not received a response.
Asset of Community Value
During the £14m rebuilding process Hastings Pier was designated as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) but that designation only lasts for five years and by the time the pier fell in to administration at the end of last year its ACV status had lapsed and much to the disappointment of campaigners HBC decided it could not designate ACV status while the pier was subject to administration
An ACV acts as the first stage in identifying and nominating buildings or other assets such as land that have a have a main use or purpose in “furthering the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.”
Having been listed as an ACV with HBC, the community has effectively won the right to be told if the the pier is listed for sale at any time within the next five years. The community can then, if it chooses, enact the Community Right to Bid, which puts a moratorium period of six months in place to allow community groups to determine if they can raise the finance to buy the pier.
Definitions of an ACV include:
A building or other land is an asset of community value if its main use has recently been or is presently used to further the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community and could do so in the future. The Localism Act states that ‘social interests’ include cultural, recreational and sporting interests.
A number of community organisations have the right to nominate land and buildings they believe should be included on the list, these include parish councils,
neighbourhood forums, unconstituted community groups of at least 21 members and not-for-private-profit organisations including charities.
Community organisations also have to have a local connection, which means their activities are wholly or partly concerned with the area.
If a community organisation nominates land or buildings that meet the definition of an ACV then a local authority must include the asset on its list. Assets remain on the list for at least five years. If the council decides that the nomination doesn’t meet the criteria, then they must write to the group who nominated the asset and provide an explanation. They must also keep a list of unsuccessful nominations for at least five years. Landowners can ask local authorities to review the inclusion of an asset on the list, and this triggers an appeal to an independent body, called a First Tier Tribunal.
Links to Hastings Pier Facebook groups can be found by follwing these links…