IMG_20160124_0842132016 is proving to be an important year for Hastings and St Leonards – we take a look ahead at a few of the exciting things coming up.

Hastings Pier opens: Mid April

The finishing touches of the £14.2m refurbishment of Hastings Pier are due to be completed over the coming weeks, with the last planking finished by the end of February. After that, the remaining work will be internal (and therefore not at the mercy of the weather). The intention that it will be “fully operational by mid April”, according to Simon Opie, the Hastings Pier Charity CEO. Plans include farmers’ markets, an outdoor cinema, live music events, art installations and night sky watching. There’s also a gala celebration planned for Saturday 21st May, and a Summer Circus from 5th to 29th August.

Pay with a Hastings 50p piece: Spring

The Royal Mint will be releasing several new coins this year, one of which commemorates the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Others include a Beatrix Potter 50p, and £2 coins commemorating William Shakespeare and the Great Fire of London. Coin collectors will also be able to buy a special “uncirculated” version of the Hastings 50p, in a souvenir pack priced £10, from the Tourist Information Centre on Breeds Place.

Cycle through Alexandra Park: Spring

The hotly debated cycle path got the go-ahead on 4th January, after alterations were made following public consultation. These included changing the route so it no longer passes in front of the café, and maximising the numbers of signs, bollards, finger posts and surface markings to ensure safety concerns are fully considered and addressed. There will also be a review after the path has been in operation for six months, to see if further alterations are needed.

Planning decision for the Observer Building: May/June

Good news for the once-derelict newspaper building: long(ish) may its current activities continue. On 23rd December, the council granted retrospective planning permission for temporary use of the basement, ground floor and first floor as an art gallery, studio space, bar, café and cinema. Looking to the longer term, the Flint Group have amended their initial planning application for the building following public consultation, reducing the vertical extension from seven storeys to five, and the number of student rooms from 250 to 232. A decision from the council is expected around the end of May. Give your feedback at observerbuildinghastings.co.uk.

Enjoy ROOT1066: September

This new contemporary arts festival commemorates the 950th anniversary of the battle of Hastings. It will run throughout September, culminating on the first weekend of October. Events include a mass forging by blacksmiths from across the country, a community diary day, a “feast of the dead” featuring a unique menu inspired by Anglo-Saxon/Norman food, as well as spoken word activities, theatre, photography and much more.

Vote on the Hastings BID: Autumn

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are business-led and business-funded schemes to improve defined commercial areas. In Hastings, it’s likely that if the BID is voted in, businesses will be asked to pay a 1.25% levy (with exceptions made for charities, shopping mall tenants). BID members would decide how to spend the money raised, which could be as much as £1m, and so far the main priority identified is to put on more events. The next consultation meeting is on Wednesday 24th February at 6pm (venue to be confirmed). Find out more at: 1066towncentres.co.uk.

Thanks to reader Angela Fox for this photograph of the pier and seafront.