Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
The room’s name is now covered over, without the necessary consent

The name-plate over the entrance to the Birch room has now been covered over, without the necessary consent.

Carry on regardless at Hastings Pier?

Breaches of planning consent on Hastings Pier have been known for many months.  Following coverage of this in HOT, there are four more big signs on the Deck building, there without permission. The Deck doors have new lettering over them, without permission. The inscription for the Birch Room has similarly been obliterated without permission.  For Bernard McGinley, this looks increasingly like a slight to Hastings, its people, the council and Hastings Pier. Looking at the continuing mess, he wonders if it’s time to resave the pier.

The pier changed hands in the summer of 2018. Rapidly a shed was put down near the gates, to sell ice cream. Eventually in March 2019 (case HS/FA/18/00900) retrospective planning permission was given, but the shed does not comply with the terms of the approval, having windows on both sides that were not shown on the plans. Additionally the connexions to both the pier decking and the drainage system were problematical.  Hastings Borough Council (HBC) reported early in 2019:

A site visit to the Pier identified that the waste drainage pipe to the ice cream kiosk was not currently connected to the main drainage system.  The water supply to the kiosk wash hand basin and sink was not turned on so no waste water could discharge down the pipework at this time.

The cavalier approach of the owner, Lions Group, to matters of planning regulation has continued.

The quality of the Deck exterior is literally being lost sight of.

The quality of the Deck exterior is literally being lost sight of.

Works without consent

It bears repetition that as all of Hastings Pier is a Grade 2 listed building, works to any of it need Listed Building Consent (LBC). Otherwise, criminal charges under section 9 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 are possible. This applies to the signage and other fixtures. The sheds got LBC permission (application HS/LB/18/00732) but the speakers and lights and café signage did not.

Now there are amusements signs too, and new lettering, and scrappy primer painting on the pier railings, all without consent. As the minutes of the HBC planning committee meeting of 1 May recorded, approving the slots:

The Principal Planner added that any signage would require separate planning permission…

Deadlines, eventually

As is often mentioned and often ignored this building was the national winner of the Stirling Prize (formerly ‘Building of the Year Award’) in 2017, awarded for excellence by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and presented to ‘the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year’. Hastings should be proud of this achievement. Instead a council report softpedalled it and brought in an unknown planning concept:

Clearly the essence of the listing refers to its support columns and associated framework.

(Planning committee agenda, 6 March 2019, p25)

All the while, the pier is being systematically disfigured.

HBC long pursued ‘dialogue’ with the owner as its preferred method of proceeding, though it also knew of most of these breaches of planning control, even as new ones arose. On 2 August they finally acted and sent the owner a letter detailing 10 separate breaches, and requiring ‘regularisation’. The various courses of action (such as removal of fixtures, or retrospective application) remain unclear for the present. Another scenario could involve drawn-out deadlines and ultimatums.    

At present there are no planning applications or LBC application in prospect.  

The pier owner got planning permission for gaming machines in the two main rooms of the Deck building but not the shop space in-between. Had they wanted that, the Lions Group could have put it in their application, and easily got it — but they did not (see the ‘slots’ case, HS/FA/18/00896.)

Opportunities missed

While Hastings has at times sweltered, the Deck café-bar (upstairs) has been closed nearly all summer. Nearby, the Goat Ledge café on the Warrior Square seafront is doing a roaring trade. The Gritti Palace on the old Hastings Pier was another well-run attempt to cater for thirsty customers with a liking for being beside the sea on long summer afternoons and evenings.

Newish signage on the building of the year.

Newish signage on the building of the year.

Given the pier’s much-stated need for revenue it is odd that the Deck’s catering premises have gone unused.  Reportedly this was to change, but it has not.  Similarly missing an opportunity, the other sheds (with planning permission since early March) never arrived to be made use of in the summer season.  

For many, this continued negative treatment of the pier and the planning process looks like cocking a snook, and less than neighbourly. Asked to comment, the owner’s agent said that due to matters beyond his control he was at present unable to.

The shantytown look

All these changes and/or breaches seem a strange way to appreciate ‘a flagship pier’, which is tacky and getting tackier. (The same bird droppings have been on the Deck staircase for months.) Enforcement and rectification remain in prospect, though the details are unknown except to the principal parties.

A new problem is that lately some of the landward railings of the Pier have been repainted messily in dark red primer paint, with gold on the gate finials.  The final colour scheme is unknown.

steps 350Following the major restoration of the Pier by dRMM (c.2013-16) there was an application made to confirm formally that the conditions of the planning permission had been complied with. The case reference was HS/CD/14/00927: Discharge of conditions 4 & 5 (balustrade details) of Planning Permission HS/FA/11/00341 and Listed Building Consent HS/LB/11/00342 Hastings Pier.

The HBC development manager was clear in his final delegated report of 11 June 2015:

The existing balustrade will be painted Fir Green. This is a traditional colour for painted metal work and is considered acceptable. 

I recommend that the submitted details are approved.

They were,  and the decision was notified that same day.

It should follow that painting the railings any other colour is a breach, unless there is an approved revision to the condition concerning the balustrades. (Similarly, the sheds’ appearance requires details in advance of ‘paint types, colours and finishes’.)  However,the Knightsbridge ‘stripey house’ case of a few years ago appears to have weakened councils’ powers in this regard. (The HBC conservation officer was unavailable to confirm this, or the status of the Conservation Management Plan for the pier that may or may not exist.)

Further along, the Deck building steadily accumulates more signage and screw holes. The Birch Room, its inscription now  obliterated, is named jointly after Eugenius Birch, who innovatively designed the Pier in 1872, and Jeremy Birch who led the council until 2015 and worked noticeably hard to improve Hastings and St Leonards. Like them, the pier deserves better treatment than it has had recently.

lions amusements 600

Seaward view of the Deck building.

Posted 21:07 Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019 In: Home Ground


  1. Nick Terdre

    In reply to Emma Ridout’s latest comment, Bernard has addressed the points raised relating to his latest article, so let me take up the questions of HOT’s journalism in general.

    You say, “I thought that HOT was about celebrating our special town…” It does – we have plenty of coverage about the good things happening here. Taking a look at the current home page, most of the articles fall into this category – celebrating the Bohemia Walled Garden, various musical, literary and artistic events, charitable and fundraising events.

    There are also reports and notices on local groups’ and people’s involvement in wider issues such as climate change, and the local angle on political happenings. It’s far from total coverage of what’s going on in town, but considering how few we are, it’s a reasonable contribution.

    But that can’t be the entirety of a local publication’s remit – if it wants to do a good job it must also scrutinise the acts and decisions of the elected authorities, which clearly have a big influence on the life of the town, and of private players managing assets relevant to the public.

    This is not because we have a built-in bias against the council or anyone else – HOT long ago decided not to have positions as a group on this or that matter. We subscribe to the prevailing liberal values — we’re not as a group pro or anti the Labour Party, Heart of Hastings or Sea Change Sussex, we see our role as providing relevant information on which people can make their own judgments. Any views expressed in articles are the writer’s own, not HOT’s.

    The fate of the pier is a matter close to many people’s hearts, even though it is now privately owned. So it is natural to cover what is going on there, and if there are breaches of planning rules, that is a matter of public interest. We didn’t make them up, we reported them. Now the council is taking enforcement action.

    This doesn’t amount to a campaign against the owner — if the pier management announced a programme of investment, or came and talked to us about how they are looking after the pier, that would also be valid news which we would happily report.

    Let me also take up Emma’s repeated assertion that I deliberately published her name in the article I wrote answering some of the questions and criticisms aimed at HOT when she had asked for it to be kept private. That, as I have explained several times, was a mistake on my part, as I wasn’t aware that the message was intended to be private – there’s nothing in it that says so. That wish was expressed in a separate message which I didn’t see.

    I didn’t write that article, as Emma put it, “in order to score points,” but to respond to some of the criticisms and accusations being leveled against us. She asked for answers and there they were!

    Emma’s comment was, by the way, ridiculously long — 3,000 words. Several readers have complained that it clogs up the comments column. We published it so that there could be no complaints that we were ignoring her questions and criticisms.

    Now we have responded, though however many answers we produce, it never seems to be enough. We’ve been round the block several times on this matter, and everyone has had their say. The debate has become sterile, so we have decided, with the urging of some of our readers who feel we have let it go on too long, to draw a line under this comments column.

    The next article on the pier, whenever it comes, will be open for comments and we’ll take it from there.

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 @ 16:11

  2. Bernard McGinley

    The so-long monologue by Emma Ridout is again a diversion from what was reported in HOT:  that the owner of the Pier is in multiple breach of the planning laws, and that the Pier is not well managed.  Slots were given permission in part because the Pier needed to make money. Having an empty café-bar all summer is not making money.  The conclusion was that Hastings deserves better.

    The question is asked ‘How does Hastings Pier’s turnover compared to another local business apply to planning?’  Because she and I agree that the pier is ‘a commercial operation’, and because the incompetence on display is common to both the pier and the business.  The pier planning applications were models of incompetence, and their implementation worse.  Presumably the pier’s revenue has been pitiful: in the Deck building, 2p coins from a few kids.  The turnover failure and the planning breaches are symptomatic of the same problem. There is a clear need for new management.  

    The best response to Emma Ridout is to refer back to the ‘Carry on regardless’ story and its many comments.  The statement that ‘Slots where slots shouldn’t be’ was my first piece about Hastings Pier shows a certain lack of research. Prior to that there was ‘Planners back slot proposal for central Pier rooms’ and  ‘Planning committee proves decisive for pier and Stade’.

    There was no listed building consent for the Deck change of use because no physical changes were proposed, according to the application papers:   ‘No internal structural or cosmetic changes needed . . . The internal and external design of the award winning structure will remain unchanged.’  In practice it turned out otherwise. Why not take up these procedural matters with HBC, whose officers are now pursuing enforcement? ‘Dialogue’ between Mr Gulzar and the Council went on for a long time, with little to show for it.  It is suggested I should have written ‘If in doubt the pier should consult the council first’. But why didn’t they? And act on the advice given?

    Enforcement action has its risks and costs.  Unfortunately, repeatedly, Mr Gulzar gives undertakings, then does nothing or (as above) does something else.  So there are reasons to suppose he might not comply.  His proposal to the Council in February to remove signage is one instance:  it didn’t happen.  Reportedly the Pier railings are being repainted as they previously were, in authorised fir green, but that looks doubtful too.  (Additionally the quality of the workmanship to date is abysmal.) 

    In writing about these matters I spoke to the Council, the Fire Service, and with Lions Group.   As I reported:

    Asked to comment, the owner’s agent said that due to matters beyond his control he was at present unable to.

    (For those interested, a new report includes the pier and gives further background on how we got to the present circumstances:  ‘Protecting Community Assets Inquiry:  Interim Report’ (Practical Governance, September 2019).)

    Contrary to the Ridout suggestion, dialogue in HOT is widespread.  Some of the reader comments have been downright abusive, and were published anyway.  So it’s patently untrue that HOT is not open to hearing an alternative point of view. 

    The existence of breaches was slowly acknowledged, but the insistence that they are ‘minor breaches’ is mistaken. For instance, the wooden exterior of the Deck has had many screws casually chew it up.  Will the exterior look the same when the many cheap panels (see HOT photos) are removed? I doubt it, and yet the acting Chair at the May meeting of the HBC Planning Committee insisted that ‘the external appearance must be preserved’.  Damage is being done to what was officially the best new building in the UK.

    ‘Slots’ is a generic term for gaming machines.  They don’t have permission to be in use in the central area.  If they are too big then let them be turned off until the proper permission has been obtained — but there’s no sign of that, or of any retrospective applications.  Mr Gulzar seems to regard the law as optional. His record is frankly bad, which is why his business skills are in doubt. Emma Ridout writes ‘If they don’t collect [the gaming machines], then Mr Gulzar will apply for planning permission’.  Is she representing him therefore?  

    Anyone has the right to comment on a private business.  Mr Gulzar has a tic of finding the previous management lacking.  For instance, on 12 January 2019 (‘Message from the Chairman’) he tweeted: 

    The business model of Hastings Pier before I bought it was very poor, that is obvious to everybody

    Now other things are obvious, increasingly so.

    Does her concern about ‘other peoples livelihoods’ extend to the people who could work there (and enjoy doing so) if it were better managed?

    The suggestion that I was continuing to blind her (or anyone) with planning case numbers to hammer home a message is frankly worrying.  There are three relevant Pier cases, and the references were given so that anyone could check or verify my comments: the opposite of pulling-the-wool.  How blind is that?  My views were clear from the pieces I wrote and there were no unfacts.   

    The complainant confuses a Birch Room directional sign with its name inscribed over the door.  One is not a substitute for the other. Obliterating the name with ‘Lions Amusements ENTRANCE’ shows a disrespect (or casual contempt) for Hastings history.  Was advice sought from the Conservation Officer?

    Mr Gulzar’s intent, to criminally flout or otherwise, was never mentioned.  I did however point out that ‘criminal charges . . . were possible’. As the much-admired Historic England put it:

    It is an offence to carry out works that require listed building consent without such a consent being obtained.

    Being neither a judge nor a jury, it’s preposterous to say that I’m making out Mr Gulzar to be a criminal.   I’m just writing the facts — which is what Emma Ridout advocated.

    The Pier has been treated shabbily, particularly since June 2018, and is ‘failing to celebrate our special town’.  Among the comments on the recent Pier applications, there was this in April, by someone I don’t know, who wrote :

    Hastings Pier has deteriorated to a jumbled mess of inappropriateness and reduced to national laughing-stock.  Even film crews and tabloids newspapers scramble to communicate the next shift in this sorry tale.

    Mr Gulzar had a year to prepare for this year’s summer season, and he failed, in diverse ways.  The pier deserves better treatment than this.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Thursday, Sep 19, 2019 @ 15:59

  3. Emma ridout

    Comment for Bernard McGinley and Nick Terdre.

    Thanks for your reply, Bernard. However, you haven’t really addressed most of my concerns.

    HOT claims to invite debate, but I’m not sure that’s the case here. You don’t seem to be open to hearing an alternative point of view. Instead you use slightly hostile dismissive language to belittle my thoughts, whilst you continue to blind me with planning case numbers to hammer home your message, which is essentially, you are right, and I am wrong! Although, maybe this is HOT’s idea of respectful debate?

    You state that I’m creating a diversion. A diversion from what? This is a discussion, the sharing of a differing opinion to yours. You may not agree, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean my opinion is any less valid than yours.

    No one is disputing the fact that there are some planning breaches. As you quite rightly point out, HBC wrote to Mr Gulzar detailing about 10 planning breaches. Sounds terrible put like that, doesn’t it? But in my opinion, you are making a mountain out of a molehill for some reason, and this is the reason why I say that:

    The planning breaches are pretty benign in the great scheme of things. Some were resolved very quickly, such as the removal of the yoga banner from the front railings.

    The red primer is just that, part of the ongoing pier maintenance. Agreed, there’s primer paint splattered on the pavement outside the pier, that doesn’t look good, but it’s not a breach of planning law. And there’s no reason to believe the final coat of paint won’t be fir green. I suspect it states what colours can be used in the land registry/freehold documents.

    The landward railing finials were painted gold in 2016, so doubt that will be an issue either. Gold is a Eugenius Birch Heritage colour.

    Agreed, the family amusement machines in the central part of the family amusement building shouldn’t be there. I explain my thoughts on the relevance of LBC for the central building further down

    This is semantics, but the machines, positioned ‘where they shouldn’t be’, are not slots, otherwise known as slot machines, one armed bandits, fruit machines or gambling machines. They are pretty harmless family amusement machines. That was my point. I’m not the unreasonable idiot that you are trying to make me out to be at the start of your reply. But surely the question is, why are they there? Did you endeavour to find out before publishing your first article?

    The reason why the machines are there: They were too wide to fit through the doors. Probably why the fire doors were removed… see it all starts to fit together, and make sense when one starts to investigate more deeply, doesn’t it!? Now waiting for the supplier to collect. If they don’t collect them, then Mr Gulzar will apply for planning permission. That should just be a formality as the building itself has been granted change of use. Pier management would like to have that space to use as a cafe, they don’t want the machines there either. I know this because I used an old fashioned method of communication, I spoke to them face to face about it. But like any business, they are fully entitled to change their mind at any point.

    HBC and the pier management are in dialogue about the breaches. There is no reason to believe Mr Gulzar won’t comply, or that HBC won’t do their job properly.

    Planning and listed building consent is there to ensure the special architectural and historic interest of the pier, or any listed building, isn’t destroyed. Hastings Pier is in the planning system, and is being monitored. So are you just a demanding control freak, who expects everything in life to be absolutely perfect first time round? Whatever you are, I feel that
    you are being utterly unreasonable, and for some reason, you are ignoring the bigger picture. Let’s face it, not everything in life runs smoothly, or is perfect. That brings me nicely on to you.

    You are writing about a private business, and you are playing with other peoples livelihoods. You use very strong language. In my opinion, you are purposefully fear mongering, making out that Mr Gulzar has intent to criminally ‘flout’ the law at every opportunity. That, in my mind, is irresponsible reporting, because it’s just your perception, not fact, and it stirs up negative emotion. Was that your intent?

    The obliteration of the Birch room sign is yet another dramatic sensationalistic statement. There’s still a Birch Room sign, you can see it in one of the photos in your article.

    There’s no positive outcome from your articles, is there? I thought HOT was about celebrating our special town, not finding fault and disrespecting it, as you have. This is why I’m a little baffled. Why not just write the facts? Why the unreasonable, angry, disapproving finger wagging voice?

    Let’s put your role into some kind of context. From where I’m sitting, you seem to be overstepping your authority. You are just a volunteer reporter for a local online rag. You are not representing the community via FOHP, the self appointed official voice of the people. You are reporting purely in a ‘journalistic’ capacity for HOT, a community online newspaper. As such HOT abides by the Impress standard code of ethics . ‘Trust in journalism’ the HOT website says. So are you compliant, and are you behaving ethically?

    Your first article ‘ slots where slots shouldn’t be’ was highly critical about pier management, yet you didn’t pay them the courtesy of asking them for a comment. You published your article anyway. That’s why I wrote my first comment to HOT, I sent a direct message via Facebook messenger chat. HOT went on to use that private message to create an article, without my knowledge, or consent. It was called ‘answering some of the critics’. Not some ‘critics’, just me! And here you are compounding that issue by quoting a heavily edited version of the same private message, in order to score points. I explicitly told HOT that I didn’t want to be in a published article. Is this another breach of ethics? This time one surrounding trust, and my right to privacy.

    I believe strongly in fair representation, which I feel is all the more important when reporting on a subject that is highly emotive, such as the pier. Unless promoting some kind of agenda, where one side of a particular version of events is presented, most news articles show balance. Are you abusing your position to publicly promote your own belief and opinions, which are also shared by your editor? Community activists working together to discredit a private business man, who bought what is perceived, by some, as a community asset.

    It’s odd that comments challenging your articles are considered ‘critics’ rather than people opening up debate. Surely the real critic here is you, and HOT. You have been highly critical about Mr Gulzar, the pier management team and their ability to run a business. How does Hastings Pier’s turnover compared to another local business apply to planning? What are your articles about? Planning, or discrediting the pier owner? It’s not clear. Maybe it’s both?!

    Transparency is important, yet you have never disclosed the fact that you were strongly opposed to the change of use, from visitor centre, to family amusement room. Saying it’s all online for people to read is a tad weak. Other peoples comments, and objections, are irrelevant here as they’re not the ones writing an article for public circulation, you are. It’s important to disclose such information as it shows integrity, and your personal bias about the subject you are writing about. It allows the reader to gauge tone.

    We both agree that Hastings Pier itself is a grade II listed structure. Why is it listed? Because it has special architectural and historic interest that needs to be preserved for future generations. It’s listing is well documented, and you can find the listing on Historic England’s website.

    We both agree that Historic England doesn’t list new buildings, because as you said, the clue is in the name Historic!

    You have also stated that Historic England’s comments, which I quoted in my comment to you and Nick below, are secondary to the important fact of listing, so not relevant. Yet, on the other hand you are saying that any internal alterations to this new building would require listed building consent, because Hastings Pier in its entirety is listed. But it can’t be both, can it?

    It’s important to understand the meaning of a listing, and what is actually listed. For example, Hastings Pier’s listing was recently revised to include the pier’s new Ekki hardwood timber decking. So it’s not quite as black and white as you are making out. Why the need to revise the listing if the pier is already listed in its entirety? So, what you’re saying makes no sense.

    What makes more sense is that there are specific parts of Hastings Pier that have special architectural and historical interest, and are the primary reasons for the listing.

    The new central building, and wooden kiosks are not considered to have special architectural or historic interest by Historic England. However, the timber cladding on the outside of the central building has historical interest. The wood is reclaimed from the original fire damaged pier.

    We can both agree that any external alterations to this building MAY be subject to listed building consent. Historic England state that changes that will alter the special architectural or historic interest to that timber, will need to be managed.

    Can you provide a copy of the listed building consent for the change of use from visitor centre to family amusement room? Does it exist? The answer is, no you can’t, because listed building consent wasn’t required. See below. So why are you claiming listed building consent is required for everything on the pier? Your articles are misleading the general public, aren’t they?!

    This is from HBC’s website, re listed buildings:

    Do you need consent?

    Each building is different and so there are no sweeping rules for what you can or can’t do without consent. Many buildings are very flexible but consent is needed for anything that might risk detracting from what makes that building special.

    This is what Historic England says about the listing:

    The significance in the pier lies primarily in the historic cast iron substructure and screw piles beneath the pier deck, as well as the remaining Edwardian pavilion. The timber cladding on the central building is also of historical interest because it was reclaimed from the fire damaged pier.

    To test as to whether listed building consent is required, is if works of demolition, alteration, or extension would affect the special architectural or historic interest, therefore if any of the proposals affect the special interest of the pier, the substructure and Edwardian pavilion, then listed building consent would be required.

    This is Historic England’s comment, quoted in the planning consultation for the change of use from visitor centre to family amusement room.

    Historic England – no objection

    Do not consider the proposals to require a specific consultation response given its nature. Have noted in recent correspondence regarding the revised listing of the Pier, that the significance of the Pier lies primarily in the cast iron sub structure and screw piles beneath the Pier deck as well as the remaining Edwardian Pavilion, and not the existing visitor centre.

    The recent correspondence between Historic England and HBC is all on my previous comment. They are not my notes, they are Historic England’s own words.

    Why is this relevant? The role of Historic England is to preserve buildings that have special architectural or historical interest. They decide which buildings go on the Heritage list. They ensure these buildings get into the planning system, to ensure those buildings are maintained appropriately so future generations can enjoy the buildings, as we do today. They also provide guidance to local authorities as to what needs listed building consent, and what doesn’t.

    Historic England have made it abundantly clear to HBC that they do not consider that the new central building on the pier has any special architectural or historic interest. Soz dRMM! They go on to say this includes any buildings constructed post 2016. So the kiosks and the wooden ‘cabins’, when they finally arrive, will also fall into this category.

    So common sense tells you that any alterations to the inside of the central building, and the kiosks wouldn’t require listed building consent, providing it doesn’t alter the special architectural or historic appearance of the pier. This is why I said it’s down to interpretation.

    For example: If Mr Gulzar wanted to put a sign up inside the central building would it change the special architectural or historic interest appearance of the pier as a whole? I would argue, no. You are arguing it would. This is where we disagree. The interpretation of Historic England’s words, and the meaning of them. Please correct me if I have misunderstood you.

    Neither you or I are experts in this though, are we? I owned a listed building in Brighton, so have some first hand knowledge. You write about it, so claim to know about LBC. But as we both know planning permission was granted and no listed building consent was required. What does that tell you?

    Let’s look at HBC’s ‘permission with conditions document’ sent to the pier management:

    Notes to applicant:

    Point 3. The applicant is advised that any EXTERNAL alterations MAY require planning and/or listed building consent.

    If we now look at the planning committee document,

    Point 5, Determining issues
    c) the following are excepts from ‘impact on the pier as a listed structure’

    Clearly the essence of the listing refers to its support columns and associated framework. The listing acknowledges the walkways buildings and their uses above although the significance of the pier lies primarily in the historic cast iron substructure and screw piles, together with the remaining Edwardian pavilion building. The pier was not noted for a sense of space, albeit that the walkways did allow the public to walk around the pier and view the surrounding coastline. As the proposals do not involve external alterations, and the change of use will not detrimentally affect the special interest of the pier in terms of reason for its listing, Listed building consent is not required.

    The recent award the Stirling prize, given to Hastings Pier by the Royal Institute of British architects in 2017, noted that its sense of space assisted the landing appear a sense of calmness and delight, setting it apart from other piers. Nevertheless, this is clearly not why the structure was listed nor does it form part of its intrinsic quality, as far as its listed status is concerned. Moreover the award does not consider in its assessment for future maintenance and hence life or longevity of the pier. Therefore, whilst the award is gratefully received, It can only be given little weight in the consideration of this application.

    So in terms of your article, ‘Carry on regardless at Hastings pier’ you clearly state:

    There are four more big signs on the Deck building, there without permission.

    The Deck doors have new lettering over them, without permission.

    The inscription for the Birch Room has similarly been obliterated without permission. 

    For Bernard McGinley, this looks increasingly like a slight to Hastings, its people, the council and Hastings Pier. Looking at the continuing mess, he wonders if it’s time to resave the pier.

    You have written such a dramatic sweeping statement here, which suggests all these changes have taken place without permission. You essentially make out Mr Gulzar is a criminal.

    Now, you may be correct for the external part of the central building because HBC said planning/LBC may be required for external changes. Historic England that said alterations will need to be managed. But this actually hinges on whether HBC and Historic England view the changes will alter the special architectural or historic interest of the pier, or not. We are talking about a pier which is a commercial operation. It isn’t unreasonable to have an external sign. Unless the new external signs alter or detract from the special architectural or historic interest listed building consent won’t be required. But as they are covering part of the timber cladding there is a possibility. If that’s the case then Mr Gulzar will need to seek retrospective listed building consent. But it’s hardly the crime of the century.

    Surely a more reasoned statement would have been… If in doubt the pier should consult the council first. Not your full blown furious claims and accusations, which are designed to purposefully fire people up and spark a negative emotion.

    As for the Birch Room sign, in my opinion, listed building consent would not be required because the building that it’s in is new, so not covered by the listing. Plus, an internal sign will have absolutely no impact on the special architectural or historic interest of the pier as a whole. This is of course a matter of interpretation.

    So, to conclude, I believe your articles are purposefully misleading the public. Maybe you should write to Historic England to ask for clarification, and report back with your findings?

    Comment by Emma ridout — Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019 @ 15:37

  4. Bernard McGinley

    Vehemence is not evidence, and the evidence of Mr Smith is not evidence either. His mentions of ‘prison sentences’ and ‘irrelevant’ are inventions, while ‘neglect’ is a serious misrepresentation. Untruths and alternative facts abound. The alleged non sequitur is actually an alleged inaccuracy, that doesn’t exist. It can be presented as:


    It is and it is.

    He has a touching obsession with qualifications. As the great Hollywood line nearly has it: ‘We don’t need no stinking qualifications.’ No claims were made based on qualifications, or the laughable presenting-as-an-academic. Following looking & confirming, what I asserted was agreed with by HBC officers, who are now pursuing enforcement action against the Pier. Are they qualified? Are they charlatans too? Or just biased?

    If the Deck building is not Listed, Mr Smith must explain why HBC have insisted on the need for Listed Building Consent for alterations there. He must also explain why Mr Gulzar submitted (successfully) a planning application for Listed Building Consent. The Planning Committee report for case HS/LB/18/00732 (like HS/FA/18/00900 and HS/FA/18/00896) repeatedly refers to the Pier as a listed structure | building. Other applications regarding signage, speakers and lights were made by Mr Gulzar, but then withdrawn on 8 February 2019. The letter said:

    . . . our maintenance team will take down the signage et al and put them into storage until the necessary time that they are allowed.

    Both the taking down and the permission never happened. So the ‘claim that Mr Gulzar is repeatedly flouting listed building consent and cocking a snook at the community’ has substance and is far from ‘desperate’.

    The committee reports for the same three Pier applications said that the ‘essence’ of Listing was the Victorian substructure, but ‘essence’ like ‘emphasis’ is not a meaningful term in planning law. ALL of Hastings Pier was made a listed building in 1976, and the updated citation notes that the Pier

    in 2017 was awarded both an RIBA National Award and the Stirling Prize, the UK’s top architectural award.

    Historic England don’t need to evaluate the Pier for Listing because it already has it. The setting of a Listed Building is also protected: ‘The surroundings in which a heritage asset is experienced’. Historic England’s remit for designation however does not include new buildings, which are usually left for 30 years before assessment. There was no contradiction – and no ‘irrelevant’ – in what I wrote.

    HBC’s Conservation Officer wrote about Pier application HS/FA/18/00900 on 26 November 2018:

    . . . no context has been provided regarding the owner’s longer term plan for the buildings on the pier. It would be helpful to understand what the long term vision for the pier is, and how these temporary structures [5 large garden sheds] fit into that long term vision.

    The long empty summer on the Pier showed that there was no vision, and not much of an earnings stream either. Mr Smith mentions ‘Mr Gulzar’s alleged claim to be a professional business man’? Does he not claim to be that? Apologies if so.

    The acknowledgement by Mr Smith that Mr Gulzar is indeed ‘in breech’ is welcome, whether it required qualifications or not.

    Repeatedly the Smith suggestion is that sustained and systematic disfiguring of the Pier (inaccurately summarised) amounts to ‘trivial and minor irregularities . . . just a routine matter’. This is not seriously maintainable about the centrepiece of the Borough, which has national recognition. It’s strange how despite all the maintenance mentioned, that that months-old birdshit is still there near the top of the Deck’s internal staircase.

    This argument is not with me but with the Council, who are now pursuing enforcement action for the many breaches. The Planning Committee minutes for 1 May 2019 record:

    The Principal Planner added that any signage would require separate planning permission.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 17:48

  5. Jeanie Moreau

    Local Resident
    Your comments are a confusing combination of here-say, vicious put downs & spin. Why the dramatics over one article relating to planning tecnicalicties ? You describe the writers work as “moaning articles about such trivialities”, then invest time & trouble remaining on this page to debate these trivialities.

    Your argument resorts to spiteful put downs:
    “busybodies putting their nose in where its really isn’t needed”
    “why Bernard McGinley needs to spend so much of his life writing moaning articles about such trivialities which is really what they are . One of life’s jobsworths , it does mention the council find him an annoyance and you can see why. “
    “Sit out and enjoy the sea air which is perhaps what Bernard needs to do.”

    You refer to community groups to spin an individual’s opinion & research about planning matters into some two camp, two tribe community conflict issue which is absurd.

    You use overly dramatic inflammatory language “It just seems like a witch hunt against him”.
    Definition of witch hunt. 1 : a searching out for persecution of persons accused of witchcraft. 2 : the searching out and deliberate harassment of those (such as political opponents) with unpopular views.

    The definition could be used to describe the manner in which certain people on this page are attacking Mr McGinley for his views. Is this a poorly veiled campaign to silence any further articles from Mr McGinley on the pier ?

    Comment by Jeanie Moreau — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 16:08

  6. Dobbs

    Local Resident –

    Where are the untruths on this page ? Please stick to the comment guidelines & be concise & factual in your response.

    Same as our moonlit alley way charmer Mr Smith if you lecture about harassment do not in the same comment &/or same page harass. It is basic stuff, if you want to win a debate do not resort to low blows.

    Comment by Dobbs — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 12:39

  7. Oli Smith


    You are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Mr McGinley is misleading you and the readers by making a false claim to support his divisive agenda which was clearly flagged for you with his question “Is it time to re save the pier?”

    The whole of the pier is not listed. Specifically not the visitor centre, therefore, his premise is bunk. He implies throughout that the pier isn’t being maintained, however, the best he can come up with is his subjective opinion that the railings (also not listed) are not primed to his satisfaction.

    He alluded to possible criminal charges (criminal charges, as opposed to civil cases, can, and offer do lead to imprisonments whereas civil charges don’t). It’s all hyped up tosh.

    His other supporting evidence of it not being maintained and in need of rescuing from the evil grip of the maniac in charge is that some slot machines need moving a few yards and a drawing of the ice cream hut needs a very minor update. Holy Jesus, are we safe in our beds at night?

    And he drives a gold car!!! God save us!

    These are not examples of material neglect of the pier but they are certainly thinly veiled, divisively suggested comments by a person who clearly hadn’t the time or the respect to include supplementary information from either the Lions Group or HBC.

    […] In this case Mr McGinley is presuming to have a greater say in whether the visitor centre is listed than the statutory bodies English Herirage, Historic England, HBC Planning dept etc who’s responsibility it is to list and protect.

    He is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. He’s not qualified or knowledgeable enough to present himself as an expert so, in my opinion, he should apologise for his piece and stop being a shameless charlatan.

    Comment by Oli Smith — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 11:44

  8. Local Resident

    In reply to Mrs Doubtfire – so is it ok for derogatory comments and untruths to be made against Mr Gulzar ? It just seems like a witch hunt against him by a certain group of the community that did not want him to purchase the Pier. What is their agenda behind that ? Many of the community are happy myself included that it was purchased by someone that runs another Pier so has experience in the upkeep of the structure, the important bit not whether the paint is the wrong colour or there is a fruit machine in the wrong place. Just seems like a few busybodies putting their nose in where its really isn’t needed , nothing better to do with their time I guess. What could be done with that time is getting down there and enjoying it . What is this moaning , nit picking actually achieving ? All the times I have been on over this summer it has been busy with locals, tourists and fisherman . That’s what Hastings needs isn’t it ? Also employing a fair amount of staff , again another bonus for Hastings .

    Comment by Local Resident — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 11:18

  9. Ms.Doubtfire

    The guidelines for debate on this online journal have been seriously breached.
    To refer to Mr. McGinley as a charlatan is insulting in the extreme. Where have these obnoxious people come from? Never before have I seen such extreme vitriol and unacceptable comments displayed in this paper.
    Time for this to cease. Mr.McGinley has reported with great accuracy what is happening to our pier. The entire structure is a Listed Building and as such this council should take steps to ensure that the guidlines for such a building are followed. The central building was lauded for its uniqueness and as such there is no question that it was ever intended to exclude it from Listed Building status.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 @ 10:13

  10. Dobbs

    “Can I please remind Mr Smith of another HOT guideline for those replying to letters:
    Be respectful of others. Strongly held opinions are welcome, but remember, there will always be others who disagree with you. A case is made by arguing for it, not by abusing or being unpleasant to others.

    Could I also suggest another one:
    Make a clear distinction between fact and opinion. As the comments section is to encourage debate, writers should respect the wider readership by making this distinction where possible: for example, a writer might like to make up their own definitions of words and phrases but this can be confusing for others.”

    Comment by Dobbs — Monday, Sep 9, 2019 @ 21:43

  11. Dobbs

    Exhaustive work reading through Mr Smith’s comments & taking his points seriously due to their highly belligerent goading tone. If you lecture about harassment do not in the same comment &/or same page harass. It is basic stuff, if you want to win a debate do not resort to low blows.

    Comment by Dobbs — Monday, Sep 9, 2019 @ 17:40

  12. Oli Smith

    Concise: Primer coat on some railings not up to Mr McGinley’s expectations. Yes, “primer coat”. A couple of very small windows on a temporary shed not included in planning application, a few slot machines in the wrong place for the time being and one out of the three, very closely grouped signs for the Birch room no longer visible!!!!! Non of this is remotely associated with or by the Grade 2 listed building status of the substructure.

    Jeez, I wouldn’t want to bump into Mr Gulzar up a dark alley.

    Comment by Oli Smith — Monday, Sep 9, 2019 @ 15:39

  13. Local Resident

    What I really am not getting is why Bernard McGinley needs to spend so much of his life writing moaning articles about such trivialities which is really what they are . One of life’s jobsworths , it does mention the council find him an annoyance and you can see why. The Pier has an owner that is maintaining it , he hasn’t gone tits up in that first year like HPC . The fisherman are on there enjoying it , you can have a walk along , nice coffee , fish and chips and icecream . Sit out and enjoy the sea air which is perhaps what Bernard needs to do . To criticise about it really is not helping Hastings , as I say it is in all our interests to support it. There are many more serious problems in Hastings other than whether a fruit machine is in the wrong place.

    Comment by Local Resident — Monday, Sep 9, 2019 @ 10:40

  14. Oli Smith

    Bobby Ball

    If you find the relentless harassment of an individual and his staff funny then that’s for you to resolve within your own heart.

    Non sequitur: (n) a conclusion drawn from a false premise.

    The false premise is the incorrect statement that the visitor centre is covered by the Grade 2 listed building designation.

    McGinley’s conclusion, in the round, or at least the conclusion he appears to be attempting to conjure in the reader would be that the pier, under the ownership of Mr relative to the previous owners is being neglected and his leading question “is it time to re save the pier” and references to “criminal charges” is all supported by incorrect claims that these minor planning irregularities amount to neglect.

    They don’t. With the exception of his “poorly primed railings” (also new and unlisted) comment, they are minor operational matters and not signs of neglect to the substructure.

    Mr McGinley has conveniently failed to research the regular engineering work and maintenance to the substructure but that’s hardly surprising as it would show him for what he is. A charlatan.

    Comment by Oli Smith — Monday, Sep 9, 2019 @ 10:03

  15. Bobby Hall

    One of the HOT guidelines is to be concise. Here is a short, and hopefully useful, quotation that goes some way to clarifying the meaning of ‘non sequitur’ (something that appears to be preoccupying one of the letter writers and perhaps confusing others).

    “A non sequitur is a conclusion or reply that doesn’t follow logically from the previous statement. You’ve probably heard an example of a non sequitur before, therefore bunny rabbits are way cuter than chipmunks. Non sequiturs are often used for comedic effect in movies, novels, and TV shows.”

    So it’s not something that is wrong, unclear, confusing, or incoherent on its own but must be so in the context of a preceding statement by the writer. However, the insistent use of this term by one letter writer certainly adds to the ‘comedic effect’ of his various letters – for which I am grateful.

    Comment by Bobby Hall — Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 @ 22:09

  16. Jeanie Moreau

    A fairground rifle range has now appeared on the pier with pot shot arguments fired at HOT. Poorly sighted they miss every time.

    A few examples from the scattered littering of misspent slugs veering off topic –

    Mr Smith fires off – “Planning issues, especially trivial and minor irregularities like this are just a routine matter between the local council and the person or business involved. Such trivial ones as these barely warrant a discussion, let alone two articles in a newspaper. It’s really none of your business at all. Yes. He’s in breech temporarily at a very low level but get a grip. Have you no shame? Referring to potential prison sentences is not only dishonest but it’s wholly exaggerating the seriousness of what’s actually happening here so why? What’s your agenda?”

    Prison sentences were never mentioned, why does Mr Smith spin the argument so dishonestly ? What is his agenda ?

    Mr Smith fires off – “Underlying all this nonsense in your ‘is it time to re save the pier?’ divisive scribblings is a relative argument about his abilities and rights compared to the previous, allegedly better stewards of this piece of private property’s abilities. If that’s your real argument then let’s discuss their failed business model with its massive losses despite regular charity dollops of cash which they frittered away with abandon before sneaking off in the night without so much as a bye your leave and £500k of unpaid debts. And you want to go back?”

    The argument now spins to the historical owners, who at no point have been mentioned by the HOT writer. This off topic reference reveals Mr Smith’s own divisive grudge argument.

    Whatever next for weekend pier amusements ? Bumper cars ? Off target loaded balls thrown at the coconut shy ?

    Comment by Jeanie Moreau — Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 @ 12:25

  17. Dobbs

    Thank you Mr McGinley for your well researched story & calm patient responses to comments. You have provided us with all necessary meat & potatoes for case. Some of the heated hysterical comments here sit in sharp contrast, they seem muddled creating a wild ‘whats left in the back of the fridge drawer’ frantic tossed salad responses. Limp flaccid & at times lazy below the belt argument against carefully presented facts. This obsession with qualifications, what do the HBC councillors on the committee have other than experience — planning degrees at Oxbridge & Harvard ? Mr McGinley has experience as shown from his insight covering varying planning issues over many years. Why do Smith & Ridout single out this lone matter to attack Mr McGinley over & in such vitriolic fashion ? What are their own qualifications to be spokespeople on planning matters in particular the pier ? How are they best informed about any programme of maintenance for the pier, are they formally overseeing maintenance arrangements ? In what capacity are they appointed to speak for Lions Management ? How many HBC pier planning meetings have they attended, or any other HBC planning meetings? Are they just online critics fuelling the pier debate with their end-of-the-pier candy floss (large, fluffy, hard-to-consume & lacking real substance) knowledge of planning matters. Unlike Mr McGinley these critics have skipped their homework & appear to lack any proper understanding of journalism.

    Comment by Dobbs — Sunday, Sep 8, 2019 @ 01:24

  18. Oli Smith


    From Lofty Academic Posturing to Personal Insults and Rambling Nonsense.

    Firstly Mr McGinley, you cannot excuse your total lack of qualifications or credentials as a planning advisor or expert – as anyone reading the articles may have assumed you would be – by claiming that “in the republic of letters, qualifications do not matter” (presumably referring to the comments section here) because you actually wrote the original articles themselves and inaccurately based your premise and arguments on your prejudices rather than simple fundamental truth. The visitor centre is not a Grade 2 listed structure.

    You set yourself up as capable to judge another person and you have been found seriously wanting in your supposed area of expertise and authority to do so.

    1. You have refused to describe your qualifications so it’s fair to assume that you have none.

    2. Your article began with a non sequitur. It hardly needed identifying but here goes darling. The following statement by you is false, incorrect, misleading and divisive considering the high feelings already running regarding the pier but that’s no doubt what is intended by penning this spurious article

    “It bears repetition that as all of Hastings Pier is a Grade 2 listed building, works to any of it need Listed Building Consent (LBC). Otherwise, criminal charges under section 9 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 are possible. ” and despite the blatant inaccuracy of this statement having been brought to your attention, you repeat it in your reply to comments.

    You repeat this false statement again and again in your reply below. Check those pants for flames man…!

    As a person who presented as an academic who researches thoroughly, to do this once is bad enough but to do it twice suggests that you have no more regard for the planning laws than the person who you seek to attack. You attacked Mr Gulzar’s integrity yet showed none yourself.

    In April, due to repeated attempts by agitators to include the new visitor centre in the listing (I assume that was you, Wilkins, Hurrel etc) HBC’s planning department sought definitive advice from Historic England’s planning expert (name redacted) on the listed building status of the new Visitor Centre, who I think we can safely assume is far more qualified than yourself. You are fully aware of this but have chosen to ignore that definition for your own ends. This moves you from “man of dubious qualifications doing his best to sound clever” to “man of dubious qualifications, ignoring the facts to make a dubious point.”

    English Herritage wrote to HBC

    “Subject – re Hastings Pier amended listing – Advice sought.”

    “Many thanks for your updates on Hastings Pier… we aim to get to a point, whereby your council can deal with routine matters without our involvement.

    We agree that the significance of the pier lies primarily within the cast iron sub-structure and screw piles beneath the deck as well as the remaining Edwardian pavilion.

    In our view, it is not the intention of the listing to designate the recently built visitor centre by dRMM

    Does the recently built visitor centre require listed building consent…..?

    … In our view it doesn’t add any historic or architectural…. (sorry dRMM) value blah blah

    Is listed building consent required for internal or external changes to the visitor centre?

    … Therefore, if any of the proposed changes effect the special architectural or historic interest of the pier, the substructure or the Edwardian pavilion then yes ”

    Put simply: The visitor centre is not included in the listing of the pier’s Grade 2 listing and as such, does not require listed building consent if any proposed works have no impact on its architectural, historic interest or to the substructure.

    Slice it any way you wish but if you resist the masculine temptation to over-rule qualified, experts employed by Historic England, this makes your personal claim that Mr Gulzar is flouting listed building consent and cocking a snook at the community a bit of desperate doesn’t it.

    3. In your 4th para in your letter below, in you own words, you repeat this false claim about the whole structure being listed by dismiss Historic England’s credentials to advise and their opinions as “irrelevant” and then rather strangely you go on to contradict yourself by stating that building only become eligible for listed building status 30 years or more after they have been built so we have to wonder whether you even understand your own definitions and distinctions.

    Can we have your final answer please Mr McGinley?

    4. To state that an LBC application was submitted and then withdrawn as circumstantial evidence to support your claim or wish that it were actually a listed building is farcical, especially when there’s ill informed numpties publishing nonsense left right and centre.

    You accuse mine and Emma’s comments as a diversion (hardly worth responding to) and then go on to give your lengthy opinion on Mr Gulzar’s alleged claim to be a professional business man? This sounds like a convenient diversion to the problems with your own argument and lack of integrity about planning to me. Now we’ve clearly established that you’re not a professional planning advisor and a suspiciously poor researcher, can we ask what qualifications and credentials you have, a CV maybe, to advise Mr G on how to run a Victorian pier without gobbling up public money or diverting much needed charity funds away from the truly needy?

    Underlying all this nonsense in your “is it time to re save the pier?” divisive scribblings is a relative argument about his abilities and rights compared to the previous, allegedly better stewards of this piece of private property’s abilities. If that’s your real argument then let’s discuss their failed business model with its massive losses despite regular charity dollops of cash which they frittered away with abandon before sneaking off in the night without so much as a bye your leave and £500k of unpaid debts. And you want to go back?

    Planning issues, especially trivial and minor irregularities like this are just a routine matter between the local council and the person or business involved. Such trivial ones as these barely warrant a discussion, let alone two articles in a newspaper. It’s really none of your business at all. Yes. He’s in breech temporarily at a very low level but get a grip. Have you no shame? Referring to potential prison sentences is not only dishonest but it’s wholly exaggerating the seriousness of what’s actually happening here so why? What’s your agenda?

    You say the pier isn’t being maintained and support this by saying that some priming paint on a railing was sloppily applied, one name plate out of three has been covered, a couple of small windows on a temporary shed weren’t included in a drawing and some temporary gaming machines are in the wrong place. This is not maintenance. This is just operational stuff. That kind of lame distraction conveniently ignores the fact that routine maintenance visits by qualified engineers to look after the structure take place doesn’t it? It conveniently ignores the fact that the shanty type sheds were initially installed by your lot and then illegally painted.

    Mr Mc Ginley – are you for real?

    Sent from my iPad

    Comment by Oli Smith — Saturday, Sep 7, 2019 @ 17:27

  19. Bernard McGinley

    There’s less to this than meets the eye. The frothy and lengthy Ridout critique is a diversion. Which of the facts are said to be ‘facts’? Instances of ‘facts’ are this person’s ‘The slot machines are in the right place’ [No they are not] and ‘Has there actually been a breach?’ [Yes] (both from HOT’s recent article, ‘Slot machines on the pier: answering some of the critics’).

    One more time: ALL of Hastings Pier is a Grade 2 listed building, and has protections in law. There are breaches of planning permission and Listed Building Consent there, which is why HBC are now pursuing enforcement action against the owner, because persistent flouting of those requirements has consequences. The published assertions of planning breaches are corroborated by the Council. Is that HBC bias?

    The Deck building is part of the listing. HBC were clear in the Planning Committee Report (HS/FA/18/00896) on gaming machines where it was made clear (p10) that external changes are subject to Listed Building Consent (LBC). Furthermore the Pier owner made LBC applications last winter, before withdrawing them, so he is well aware of regulatory requirements, even if he chooses not to observe them.

    Historic England’s thoughts/comments and asides are all secondary to this important fact of Listing. As the name suggests, Historic England’s interest is in old buildings not new ones. (Their references to ‘historic interest’ and ‘historical interest’ show this.) It is also not bias not to mention that new buildings are usually considered eligible for listing only after 30 years. Hastings Pier was Pier of the Year 2017, and national winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize that same year: by any standard it is a major new building, and deserves careful treatment. Because the Pier (all of it) is already Listed, planning law does not allow the mistreatment that has occurred. Historic England’s preferences and emphases are neither here nor there, because all of the Pier is listed.

    In the three recent Pier cases, Historic England made quite a number of statements. Regarding the sheds cases (HS/FA/18/00900 and HS/LB/18/00732), an Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas wrote to HBC to say that it was for the Council to determine the application, adding:

    The application is poor in describing the effect of the proposed changes upon the designated heritage assets, both the grade II listed pier and the contribution that it makes to the conservation area.
    . . .
    We think in considering the current proposals you need to take account of the cabins effect on the historic character and hence significance of the pier.

    Fortunately for the applicant, these comments were advisory not mandatory.

    For the slots case (HS/FA/18/00896), Historic England commented:

    in our view you do not need to notify or consult us on this application under the relevant statutory provisions, details of which are attached.

    So it’s true that there was a great deal that I ‘failed to mention’, including what the scores of objections to each of the three cases had to say. They remain posted and readable.

    Mr Gulzar purports to be a professional businessman, but he is not a very good or successful businessman. (His record in Eastbourne alone shows this.) The revenue stream he could have had on the Pier all summer did not happen. The Deck café-bar sat dusty and neglected, closed nearly every day. Four of the large sheds that had planning permission since early March have still not arrived. This represents a major loss of Pier earnings. (Down the road, the Goat Ledge café was rammed.)

    Pier management is noticeably bad. For instance, though mentioned in HOT many weeks ago, the same birdshit is still there at the top of the Deck building internal staircase, months old. Again, information on forthcoming attractions or even opening hours is not made available, failing to build a customer base. Another indication is that the recent repainting of the railings has been noticeably slapdash and unnecessary: the subsequent stated intention to restore the Pier to its original fir green is unpersuasive given the gold now there.

    Very recently the internal firedoors in the Deck building were removed. Given the fire at Mr Gulzar’s Chatsworth Hotel (Eastbourne) in January 2008, and the extensively detailed Fire Service Enforcement Notice (Notice ESFRS/EA/001/E/16) that was served on his nearby Mansion Lions Hotel in February 2016, and also the fire on Hastings Pier in November 2018, he could have been much more safety-minded. (Additionally both his Piers were acquired after major fires.) After more than a week of hot weather, the firedoors were reinstated, but using only half the allowed screws, which again compromises safety, and again is a breach of Listed Building Consent.

    The articles about planning permission and related breaches were to draw attention to the deteriorating condition of Hastings Pier. That is not bias. HBC pursuing enforcement is not bias. Indignation about ‘suggesting he [Mr Gulzar] is flouting the law and obliterating name plates’ is misplaced when he is doing exactly that. The suggestion that this journalistic truth is the high road to hostility is offensive. Nowhere was there ‘permission to others to be abusive on social media’. The coverage is not manipulative either, though some of the responses have been. Accusations of bias (including through ‘facts’) have no substance.

    Is Mr Gulzar beyond criticism for some reason? Strange, when his record is a noticeably poor one. Those facts are available too.
    * * *
    As for Mr Smith’s grievances: in the republic of letters, qualifications do not matter, and no claims regarding qualifications were made. This is a non-issue therefore, and (as above) a distraction from the subject discussed. The commenter here might just as well ask if the Council are qualified to pursue enforcement for the sundry Pier breaches, which is what they are doing. Or is he saying that these offences do not exist unless Mr Gulzar admits to them (on previous form, unlikely) or until a court of law finds for HBC?

    The alleged non sequitur remains unidentified.

    It was neither the writer of the Pier articles nor HOT that used the various terms of praise cited. The commenter should perhaps take up the matter with those who did. The array of positions mentioned (fastidious, vexatious, etc.) does not include ‘informed opinion’, which the offending article was, with corroboration ensuing.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Friday, Sep 6, 2019 @ 19:22

  20. Punch and Judy

    Dear Olly Beak (comment 2), Why make a gory furore over this story? You are supposed to be a wise owl, but youve shouted at poor Mr B.
    The pier got an architecture award for no architecture. Now its got slot machines but no fun. It wasnt like that in 1066 – we woz there!
    So apologise to nice Mr B and don’t call him a vexatious complainant – its an insult council hit-squads use to shut anyone up who asks a question. He only write articles because he can’t get a straight answer. We doesnt know Mrs Gulzar, but We knows the council. You complaind about Peter Chowney twice. So aren’t you a vexatious complainant? Mr B never said he was an expert. You write an article instead. Maybe you don’t have time.
    Anyway, you’ve all missed the point. A pier should have a Punch and Judy Show – but WE havent been asked. WE want our country back! We asked baby, Mr Crocodile, Joey the Clown, the Skeleton, the Doctor and the Costable and they all agree. Sooty and Sweep agree and Mr Corbett. That’s 11 local jobs.

    Comment by Punch and Judy — Friday, Sep 6, 2019 @ 07:51

  21. Jeanie Moreau

    Thank you Mr Ginley for yet another excellent well researched planning story. Clear & concise cutting through the layers of pier guano, inspiring healthy debate. Reading your stories is a breath of fresh air in sharp contrast with venturing onto Hastings Pier, now a pantomime of Emperors New Clothes (matinee only, no evening performances available).

    “Well, I am ready,” replied the Emperor. “Does it not suit me well?” And then he turned again to the mirror, for he wanted it to appear as if he contemplated his adornment with great interest.
    The two chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stooped down with their hands toward the floor, just as if they were picking up the mantle; then they pretended to be holding something in the air. They did not dare to let it be noticed that they saw nothing.
    So the Emperor went in procession under the rich canopy, and every one in the streets said, “How incomparable are the Emperor’s new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!” No one would let it be perceived that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was not fit for his office, or was very stupid. No clothes of the Emperor’s had ever had such a success as these.
    “But he has nothing on!” a little child cried out at last.
    “Just hear what that innocent says!” said the father: and one whispered to another what the child had said.

    Comment by Jeanie Moreau — Wednesday, Sep 4, 2019 @ 14:04

  22. Oli Smith

    Is Mr McGinley qualified to pass judgement in a newspaper and be presented as an expert? Is this his own piece or was it co written with another well known vexatious planning objector?

    The article appears to begin with a serious non sequitur that makes most of his subsequent comments and opinions highly misleading and devisive.

    Can we get a clear answer from the editor on his qualifications please. I recall that he was previously defended as being highly professional and fastidious or something along those lines but again, that would appear to be just an opinion.



    Comment by Oli Smith — Tuesday, Sep 3, 2019 @ 08:07

  23. Emma Ridout

    This is a comment for Bernard McGinley and Nick Terdre. Whilst McGinley’s article is full of ‘facts’ what is the motivation behind the recent articles surrounding planning permission?

    I sent Nick Terdre a private message on FB messenger chat asking just this. Plus a series of other questions. Some of which he responded to 3 weeks later very publicly. Was expecting a respectful response via FB messenger chat, our method of communication. I was told by Nick that the public could view our ‘private’ dialogue. Suggests Nick hasn’t a clue how FB messenger works. Slightly worrying for all I would have thought.

    I raised the question of bias… and I raised the question, does this type of reporting give permission to others to be abusive on social media? All responses have been incredibly defensive. Why?

    Well a little bit of digging about on the internet and it reveals some very interesting ‘facts’ about what Historic England have to say about the central pier building. Here are their thoughts on a thread on What do they about the conversation from visitor centre to family amusement room.
    Dated 3rd April 2019.

    ‘We agree that the significance in the pier lies primarily in the historic cast iron substructure and screw piles beneath the pier deck, as well as the remaining Edwardian pavilion

    In our view it is not the intention of the listing to designate the recently built visitor centre by dRMM

    In our view the visitor centre does not contribute to the special architectural or historic interest of the pier as a listed structure

    In our view the new structures, post 2016 do not currently contribute to the special architectural or historical interest of the pier

    The test as to whether listed building consent is required, is if works of demolition, alteration or extension would affect the special architectural or historic interest therefore if any of the proposals do affect the special interest of the pier, the substructure and Edwardian pavilion, then listed building consent would be required. I note the construction of the cross-laminated Visitor centre re-used timber that survived from the pier fire, I would suggest any potential changes to this therefore would need to be understood and managed.

    We would advise that listed building pier consent is required to change the external appearance if the proposals affect the special interest of the pier’

    It is agreed that McGinley is incredibly thorough in his search for facts, and the presentation of those facts. So why has McGinley failed to mention any of Historic England’s thoughts/comments? Is it because they are at odds with his own belief? Does he have a particular agenda? Is he indeed biased about this subject?! Maybe McGinley can tell us why he omitted this from his thoroughly researched articles?

    And this brings me back to my original question about what was the motivation behind these recent articles about planning permission?! Historic England, have given clear guidelines. So why is McGinley making something that is pretty benign in the great scheme of things, into a terrible crime. He is painting a very negative picture of Mr Gulzar by suggesting he is flouting the law and obliterating name plates. Why the use of that type of language that leads the reader in one direction only. And is that to make people feel appalled by Mr Gulzar’s actions? Are these articles designed to stir up emotions to wind up the public? Is it responsible reporting? It’s about interpretation isn’t it?!

    What are your thoughts Nick and Bernard?

    Comment by Emma Ridout — Sunday, Sep 1, 2019 @ 13:34

  24. Local Resident

    In reply to Ms Doubtfire – as explained twice now my only reason for posting here was to highlight the fact of using ‘Sheikh’ in the manner that it was is offensive to our fellow residents of Indian heritage. That didn’t need a comment from anyone but both yourself and Bolshie felt the need to. Bolshie for some reason then decided to bring Brett Mclean in to this and then the Charitable resident wrote a very hate filled post about Brett Mclean and myself. Nothing to do with Mr Mc Ginley’s article , it therefore is in fact those people that your post should be directed to and not myself. The other article from another Local Resident (no 13) and Ken Davis have made positive comments about the Pier . Surely that’s what we should all be doing as residents of Hastings to help the Pier to flourish under the new ownership rather than this negative un-necessary nitpicking .

    Comment by Local Resident — Saturday, Aug 31, 2019 @ 15:05

  25. Ms.Doubtfire

    We live in a democratic society don’t we? so why does Local Resident continue with this diatribe of insults against some commentators on this website?
    Enough is enough – time to call a halt to these meaningless postings. The importance of Mr.McGinley’s article is being lost and we must not allow this. The pier is a far too important an issue to be undermined and bogged down by something so trivial. Move on Local Resident.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Saturday, Aug 31, 2019 @ 08:46

  26. ken davis

    I think all these changes by the owner are wonderful because they point out so many of the absurdities in the planning system. One clear misunderstanding is that changes can be made to listed buildings provided they are fully reversible i.e provided they do not damage the historic fabric. Since the historic fabric is very largely below the deck level it is hard to see how changes such as signage damage historic fabric. Furthermore, the very nature of piers historically is much to do with kitsch so things such as gold painted animals and decorative signage are very much in keeping with the spirit of historic pier design. Tacky it may be in puristic and functional design terms but it somehow seems to fit with the kiss me quick hats and candy floss aspect of a seaside town.

    Comment by ken davis — Saturday, Aug 31, 2019 @ 08:23

  27. Local Resident

    In reply to Charitable resident – what a patronising response that was . I have used the ‘local resident’ name as I have read some of the nasty comments made across some of the facebook sites about the Pier owner and Brett McLean and actually didn’t want to have my name bought into this just for pointing out that the ‘Sheikh’ comment is disrespectful to the Indian residents of our town. Why do you/ Bolshie / Ms Doubtfire not post under your real names ! You write ‘malicious’ intent. The definition of malicious is intending to do harm .Using a lord title is certainly not malicious and it is Peer not Pier . Was the curry favour comment deliberate ! You pity me and I have warped and skewed views , what awful things to write. This article was regarding planning consent on the Pier so why does a personal attack on Brett Mclean have to be bought into it. For reference I have visited the Pier a few times over this summer , had a good coffee/ fish and chips and icecream , served by pleasant members of staff and sat out on the seats installed by the new owner watching the world go by. It has been lovely and just what I want from the Pier.

    Comment by Local Resident — Friday, Aug 30, 2019 @ 10:28

  28. Charitable resident

    In reply to “Local Resident”, it is most sad that you equate using a meaningless name on an internet forum here with the malicious pretence to be a pier of the realm, when in fact one has no business whatsoever in the House of Lords.

    McLean’s fake title tries to curry favour with people and is an attempt to exert the influence and power of the House of Lords by a simple Hastings resident, where there absolutely isn’t any power of influence from The House at all. It is bluff, and an attempt to pretend to be important in order to get one’s way.

    “Bolshie” conveys no such pretence, is a name such as your chosen “local resident”, and is merely a name on the internet with no utility beyond this page – and it is quite revealing of your perception of the world that you see no difference between the two.

    I pity you for your stance, and indeed on the basis of this skewed view of reality, one would have to question your warped views on all matters, sadly…

    Comment by Charitable resident — Thursday, Aug 29, 2019 @ 18:43

  29. Local Resident

    In reply to Bolshie – In reply to your question on Brett Mclean , my post was solely on your ‘Sheikh’ comment and not related to Brett Mclean in any way so do understand why do you need to ask me a question about him. What I will answer though is Brett Mclean is able in this free world to go by whatever name he wishes and what business is this of yours. You go by the name Bolshie here , clearly not your name but how you wish to address yourself !

    Comment by Local Resident — Thursday, Aug 29, 2019 @ 13:51

  30. Local Resident

    In reply to Bolshie – Mr Gulzar’s first name is Abid , his surname is Gulzar and his family name is Sheikh . This is not a self imposed title. Have a google and read up about Indian names as you obviously have no understanding of this. I reiterate that you are being disrespectful to the Indian community in the town and your comments need removing.

    Comment by Local Resident — Thursday, Aug 29, 2019 @ 11:37

  31. Eye on the ball

    I walked on the pier last week only to find a man sitting on a bench at the end of the pier smoking a cigarette. I thought this was not allowed since the last pier burned down. No-one was checking and there was no one aroind to tell. I find this very sad.

    Comment by Eye on the ball — Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019 @ 21:58

  32. Bolshie

    Following the comment by the “Local Resident” concerning my reference to the name “Sheikh.” This is not his first name at all. It is a self appointed title. If you consider I am incorrect then lets see a copy of his birth certificate. Not anything else as it more than likely he has attached this “Sheikh” to his name by deed poll.
    yes I am very aware a “Sheikh” is of the Arab decent.
    As you have raised this perhaps as you seem to know “Local Resident” about this being his first name and not a title. How about his associate “Lord” Brett Mclean who sometimes speaks for Sheikh Abid Gulzar ( lets get him name right -eh ). Now I can’t find any references in Who’s Who or Debretts Peerage for this “Lord” Brett man. Perhaps as you have corrected me about the “Sheikh” you could enlighten me about this other titled gentleman?

    Comment by Bolshie — Monday, Aug 26, 2019 @ 12:38

  33. Ms.Doubtfire

    Hang on a minute Local Resident – look on any website any you will see that the owner of our pier is referred to as Sheikh abid Gulzar – and you are the first to comment suggesting this is incorrect….nobody disputes that this gentleman is of Indian descent – but it is a title he appears to have adopted. So you may be unhappy with this but clearly Mr. Gulzar is not as I am unaware that he has ever complained about being called Sheikh Abid Gulzar. Whatever your views, how about the obliteration of the name of the Birch Room? This is surely the ultimate insult to the people of Hastings.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Friday, Aug 23, 2019 @ 17:56

  34. Local Resident

    In reply to Bolshie – Sheikh is Mr Gulzar’s family name not a title. He is of Indian decent not Arab decent. This therefore needs removing from your comment please as is disrespectful to the Indian members of our community.

    Comment by Local Resident — Friday, Aug 23, 2019 @ 15:12

  35. Bolshie

    Once again Bernard’s constructive analysis of how various abuses and flouting of signage, slot machines along with planning permissions; is a direct reflection on this owner of the pier.
    Since this “Sheikh” took it over there has been a conveyor belt of issues that do not appear to phase him at all. He will do what and how he wants in general. And because it is the pier he knows how far he can carry on regardless of what the council have authorised in the planning permissions.

    On the HBC side of things, I can see they will be reluctant to take him on for fear of cost, results and how long it will take to deal with the issues at hand. Enforcement will be taking advice from the Legal Dept who I would suspect will be very hesitant to endorse any legal action.
    I think we have to accept these issues and others forthcoming will be continual throughout the current ownership.
    When you look back to the disastrous HBC deal with Panama registered Ravenclaw Investments, the costs of the CPO to regain ownership. Followed by HBC losing an expensive court case over one of the businesses who sued them.
    Will this pier ever see itself free of controversy and discontent.

    Comment by Bolshie — Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 @ 10:35

  36. Ms.Doubtfire

    The obliteration of the Birch room inscription is the final insult to the people of Hastings. As pointed out in this excellent article by Bernard McGinley this room was named in recognition of Eugenius Birch, the architect who designed the original pier and Jeremy Birch the leader of Hastings council until his untimely death on 6 May 2015. What an insult to this man who endeavoured to make Hastings a town to be proud of – what an insult to all those who strived so hard to save our pier from the ravages of the fire which nearly destroyed it in 2010.
    The new owner of the pier appears to be able to flout all planning regulations and one has to wonder how the current leader of this council is able to salve his conscience when he witnesses what is happening right under his nose.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 @ 07:54

  37. Local Resident

    While I believe our Pier should be used much more and the Upper Deck Cafe should be open all summer, I do not agree that it is getting too tacky to have some colour and a few amusements. That is what a Pier is for isn’t it?. We are at the seaside after all. It should be combined with the lovely new, modern structure. Let’s have some more gold please and more things going on such as music, dancing, dinning, films, outdoor keep fit and walks. and lots of things for children.
    At the lovely original cafe/bar all the staff seem to be working really hard to make a success of it; and what is offensive about the hut selling ice cream?. It’s the structure which is listed and won an award isn’t it?. But surely it’s not a problem having a hut with double windows? selling ice cream.
    Yes OK, paint the railings dark green, but SOME gold would be good. For example, the little huts, look much better now they are not all black any more. I hope the Pier can survive and flourish. And I hope Hastings in general can cheer up. Think back to when the then named Jerwood Gallery was going to be built; and all the opposition to that. And now look at what a brilliant place that is and how far and wide people come to visit it. Finally, while writing, I love the Ferris Wheel at Rock a Nore and especially when it is lit up at night!

    Comment by Local Resident — Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 @ 07:46

  38. Julia Van Coevorden

    Re the signage referred to in Bernard’s excellent, factual article (of yesterday Wed 21 August 201 in HOT) at / on / in the Visitor Centre, an excerpt from my notes on the planning application meeting to install the slot machines in the VC on Wed 1st May ‘19 at Muriel Matters House …

    “ … At this point I think it was one of the male planning officers who said that – Adverts / signage would need another application.

    Cllr Davies said that restrictions could be placed on signage.”

    The flouting of Listed Building Consent, if HBC planning consent, of health and safety, of insurances, of lack of regular maintenance to a metal structure standing in salt water and subject to the powers of the elements 24/7 … all these are, as the preface to the article says, a slight to the people of Hastings, the town, the council and the Pier. And to all the people who worked, campaigned, fundraised to save it and having saved it, worked as volunteers, after its re-opening in May 2016, to make it the community-serving asset it became by June 2018. The community service aspect of the design and architectural intention is part of what earned our Pier the RIBA Stirling Prize.
    If a guidebook on holding two fingers up to a Council, a Listed building and a town and its townsfolk were to be published; the track record of the ownership of Hastings Pier since June 15th 2018 would surely furnish all that was needed.

    Comment by Julia Van Coevorden — Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 @ 06:43

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