The historic Hastings Pier has been awarded with the prestigious Stirling RIBA architecture prize, following a multi-million pound restoration and inspiring display of public support. We are delighted to have been part of the collaborative funding process to restore the iconic pier, by hosting their community share offer in 2016 to open up ownership to the crowd.
Following years of decline and neglect under increasingly poor ownership, Hastings Pier, which was originally opened in 1872, finally came to a close in 2008. With an already inevitable future looming on the horizon, a catastrophic fire followed in 2010, clearing the top deck of any remaining construction and highlighting the dilapidated structure looming below.
The appalling state of the structure and enormous engineering challenges that lay ahead were not enough to dampen the community’s spirit, as thousands of people gathered to the cause to begin the huge task of creating and designing a new pier for the enjoyment of many generations to come.
Through community support and lottery funding, the pier was transformed into the People’s Pier – owned by 3,000 people from Hastings and beyond. However, despite this multi-million pound renovation, there was still a need to boost reserve funds in order to have a smooth first few years whilst building business. And, beyond the money, there was the simple fact that lots more people wanted to become owners too!
So, the team behind the People’s Pier turned to Crowdfunder to open up the opportunity once again, by running a community shares campaign – a great way to raise investment from the very people which a project intends to benefit.
Dave Boyle, Director of The Community Shares Company, says…
‘Community Shares are a way for people to take control of the things that matter in their lives and to work together in order to achieve things that they can’t on their own. Feeling powerful by coming together is good for communities and good for people’s wellbeing… In terms of iconic buildings – they need to work great, not just look great. The Stirling Prize panel recognised that community shares enabled this community to make the Pier their own, which in turn underpins the business.’
When the community of Hastings first set out to restore their pier, they had a big vision to not only address the issue of the pier being shut to the public, but to also create a strong and uniting bond through collaborative ownership. Collaboration between the community, the Council, the engineers and the architect has meant that they have now been able to deliver a truly memorable experience to those who visit the pier.
The culmination of 8 years of engagement from the local community, who have put endless amounts of energy into sorting the pier out, has now been rewarded with the highest accolade, as they have just been announced winners of the 2017 RIBA Stirling prize for the best building in the UK. Praised by the judges for their impressive display of local support and use of sustainable materials, this public endeavour is set to inspire councils and communities alike.
Huge congratulations to all involved in this wonderful journey of public morale, that truly tells the story of the kind of change that can be activated through public support. When communities take ownership of the things that matter most to them, they become stronger – so don’t just follow the crowd, be the crowd.
You can view their Crowdfunder project here.