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No Listed Building Consent for this on the RIBA Stirling Prize winner

Pier neglect by the Council damages the town’s attractiveness and ‘offer’

Hastings Pier is a slum. Supervision rests with Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and its Enforcement team, no doubt hardpressed and under-resourced. The Pier is of exceptional importance to the town’s economy and reputation however. Bernard McGinley reports.

Top and front of the Deck building

Hastings Pier’s owner, Sheikh Abid Gulzar, seems to take the view that the planning system is an optional or belated extra. So it was with the lampposts put up without permission last year. He seems to take a similar view about Eastbourne Council requirements, the taxman, the Employment Tribunal, Companies House. and road traffic legislation.

Pier tat


In 2024, planning applications were submitted regarding the Pier’s unlawful lampposts, HS/FA/24/00046 and HS/LB/24/00047. (The second is for Listed Building Consent.) The structural aspect of the cases is uncontroversial.

The Council’s Senior Conservation Officer was widely thought to do a good job. Recently though there seems to have been a  loss of interest. Regarding these cases the assessment in May was:

I can confirm that I now have no objection to the proposals for Hastings Pier, as set out in the amended plans on applications HS/FA/24/00046 and HS/LB/24/00047.

The acceptance of fake-olde, plastic, wobbly lampposts next to the RIBA Stirling Prize winner 2017 is very surprising. Now the Pier increasingly looks like a shanty town. There has been unauthorised work done inside the Deck building. Additionally the Deck building has a rough new sign on it (see top), that lacks permission.

Other parts of the Pier are also abused. The big sheds’ permission expired months ago under the condition 1 of approval of case HS/FA/18/00900, (part retrospective) but they’re still there. Some of the other kiosks also lack permission.

Behind the Pavilion

The barbed wire on the railings was reported years ago but no action was ever taken. Now the back of the curved Pavilion building is being adapted as well, without permission. There’s unauthorised signage too. This is cheap looking, and a bastardisation of the town’s alleged showpiece.  (Repeatedly the Council’s reports on the Pier have treated winning the national architectural Oscar as a dirty little secret. It isn’t.)   

Council Enforcement seem to not know what they’re doing. Perhaps it’s the Pier backlog. Will they do anything? They have an extensive toolbox to work from. The last Enforcement Notices relating to the Pier were in 2020.  

Volte-face in Hollington

St Anne's, Chambers Road, Hollington (detail)

St Anne’s, Chambers Road, Hollington (detail)

Meanwhile, over in Hollington, another application for the demolition of St Anne’s church-turned-gym (case ref HS/FA/24/00239) was reported in HOT as (in effect) contradictory and scandalous. Suddenly it was ‘made invalid’ by the Council.

An architect suggested this was because the U-turn in Conservation Officer assessment would cause significant embarrassment to the Council. How could an application for demolition go from the Pevsner-listed building being of great merit and possible future listing, to a finding of ‘no objection — no harm’? This raises concerns about standards in the planning department.

Will the new-look Council do or say anything? Its first meeting of members is on Wednesday 22 May.

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Posted 20:41 Sunday, May 19, 2024 In: Home Ground


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  1. Bernard McGinley

    A council spokesperson said:
    ‘Hastings Borough Council’s Planning Enforcement team are following their processes and are investigating the issues raised’.

    Comment by Bernard McGinley — Friday, May 24, 2024 @ 18:09

  2. Kenneth G Davis

    Bernard is absolutely right of course and the planning department needs a complete overhaul. The people of, and the place of Hastings itself, deserve a much better service. At the moment it is all too process driven and does not look to the end result either in terms of quality, or consistency or time. There are some easy wins to be had but all have been rejected or ignored in the past.

    Comment by Kenneth G Davis — Thursday, May 23, 2024 @ 18:15

  3. Richard Heritage

    Excellent expose Bernard on this issue. Roger B more or less confirms why HBC Enforcement is not too eager to go after the Sheik over these pier violations. His reputation is often a major reluctance for various authorities to pursue cases. They know it will be hard work with doubt he will pay. And of course the Sheikh knows through years of experience how far he can go. He knows he can do what he wants and get away with it. No doubt HBC’s legal department don’t want to deal with him.
    Where was Enforcement with the years of decay with the Battle Road arches. Or the land subsidence at the Undercliff development site in 2006 when the developer walked away. I think it is fair to say they only want the easy issues to chase.

    Comment by Richard Heritage — Tuesday, May 21, 2024 @ 09:29

  4. Roger Burton

    Gulzar is serially evasive, and has been avoiding his responsibilities at every level for too many years but gets away with it.

    For instance, he was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000 after being found guilty of damaging a protected conservation site.,his%20hotels%2C%20the%20department%20said.

    His company, Lions Hastings Pier Ltd, went into liquidation owing up to £300,000. Among the creditors are gas and electric companies, former employees, a bank, a council and several small businesses.

    He’s been fined for not paying legally due charges (his employees’ PAYE and NI contributions).

    The record is atrocious and continues to get worse.

    Comment by Roger Burton — Monday, May 20, 2024 @ 06:53

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