Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

On the left: recent modern lighting following the construction of the Stirling Prize-winning pier 2017 — and on the right, the new, plastic, fake heritage lampposts

Council planners recommend retrospective approval of fake olde lampposts for the Pier

Civic pride apparently knows no beginning when it comes to Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and the Pier, supposedly the town’s central attraction. Retrospective planning application HS/LB/24/00047 is to be considered by the Planning Committee on Wednesday 5 June, but the companion case (HS/FA/24/00046) not also being considered — and what of the many existing breaches of Listed Building Consent there? The planners’ complacency or complicity is concerning, as is a false statement regarding enforcement action. Bernard McGinley reports.

Pier abuse is frequently reported in HOT, most recently here. Now a retrospective application is being considered on 5 June by the planning committee. HS/LB/24/00047 is for:

Retrospective application for lattice beam replacement, new conrete [sic] jacket on column 219 and new lamp posts | Hastings Pier, White Rock, Hastings, TN34 1JY

The ‘LB’ refers to Listed Building Consent, as the Pier is a Listed Building, In 2017 it was awarded the Stirling Prize by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The RIBA Stirling Prize 2017 is referred to in the committee report as ‘a design award’ — showing again that HBC has no civic pride. The Stirling Prize ‘is awarded to the UK’s best new building’. It is presented to ‘the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year’. Other local authorities would be highly pleased with the honour — but not Mugsborough.

Predictably the officers’ Recommendation is: Grant Listed Building Consent.

In February 2024 the HBC Conservation Officer decided:

Objection — less than substantial harm

but in April this became:

I can confirm that I now have no objection to the proposals for Hastings Pier.

The lampposts are supposedly symmetrically arranged, but they are not.

Lack of Enforcement

The officers’ committee report states:

There are also a number of unauthorised structures and uses on the Pier which are subject of an enforcement case and do not form part of the consideration of this application.

The Pier sits within the Eversfield Place Conservation Area and forms part of the setting of the White Rock, Town Centre, Warrior Square and Old Town Conservation Areas.

There is no such enforcement case.

A report to the Council of Pier planning breaches was neither acknowledged nor acted on. A lack of meaningful enforcement indicates how inept HBC are. The last Enforcement Notices relating to the Pier were in 2020. 

The Deck building, centre of the Pier

Since March, Pier sheds and kiosks have been without permission (see case HS/FA/18/00900 (part retrospective)). There is unauthorised change of use to the Deck building. Similarly, the curved Pavilion is being altered at the back without permission. There are storage containers strewn around, unauthorised signs, and unauthorised adverts.

The more modern lampposts (see photos above) are not covered by planning application. The fake olde lampposts are plastic, and wobble.  There are no 19th- or 20th-century structures on the Pier platform for them to be in keeping with. There is no reason for a Conservation Area to be subjected to plastic (‘resin’) lampposts.  Design guidance is standardly against tawdry additions such as this.


It is odd that case HS/FA/24/00046 

Retrospective application for lattice beam replacement, new concrete jacket on column 219 and new lamp posts on the decking of the pier. | Hastings Pier, White Rock, Hastings, TN34 1JY

is not being considered alongside HS/LB/24/00047 (whose structural aspects are uncontentious).  When HS/FA/24/00046 will be decided is not known.

The modern-looking lampposts on the Pier are not a consideration for either case. Neither are the many enforcement matters. Planning breaches and applications for the same specific place are however interrelated.

‘in keeping’

When the Pier was destroyed by fire in 2010, Council Leader Jeremy Birch took soundings on whether local people wanted a traditional pier or a modern pier to replace it. The consensus was to have a modern pier, and the dRMM building was the realisation of that.

The current committee report indicates a lack of grasp:

Officers do not consider that the character or significance of any of these later buildings overrides the Victorian character and history of the pier and therefore a Victorian style of lamp post is considered to be acceptable in principle . . . officers consider that the Victorian-style of lamp column provided is in keeping with the character of this Victorian pier and is authentic as it is evidenced within the heritage statement.

What Victorian character?  The heritage statement is largely self-serving bluster and falsehood about a retrospective application for Listed Building Consent: 

8.3  The changes that have been undertaken have entirely preserved the aesthetic value of the pier.

This is not true, and under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Area) Act 1990, works without consent are a criminal offence. The heritage statement cites policies and criteria that it does not meet (including the National Planning Policy Framework). Hastings Pier’s modern significance is as the winner of the national architectural Oscar, the RIBA Stirling Prize, 2017. Meanwhile the structure continues to decline and be mistreated, including by the lack of meaningful enforcement action.

The Committee meeting is on Wednesday 5 June at 6 p.m. Comments on the cases can still be emailed to The meeting will be livestreamed from the Council’s website.

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Posted 20:00 Saturday, Jun 1, 2024 In: Home Ground

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