SUPPORTERS of Bognor Regis Pier are set to take control of a building for the first time.
The pier trust has been given the right to occupy the detached property on the historic structure by its owner, John Ayers.
Work will begin soon to make it a base for the trust and the Friends of Bognor Regis Pier.
The trust, supported by the Observer, wants the building to become a meeting place and a site for raising money and awareness of its goal to bring the pier back into community ownership.
It has until August 6 to make a bid for £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a sustainable future for the present pier.
Some 50 backers enjoyed the Friends’ second coffee morning at the Regis Centre last Wednesday. Seven of them became Friends to take the total to 280.
Mrs Malpas said: “I’m delighted people are getting more involved with what is happening. We need this sort of gathering to think about what else we can do.
“If every member gets someone else to join, we have doubled our numbers and, if they get two people to join, we will have more than 1,000.”
One of those at the morning was Silverston Avenue resident Wilf Archer. Mr Archer, 81, said: “The pier is part of the town’s regeneration. The pier trust are very ambitious, which is brilliant. The amount of progress they are making is inspiring.”
Marvyn Turrell, the trust’s vice-chairman, said: “The pier is so important to the future of Bognor. If you regenerate the pier, you regenerate the town.
“There is a real strength of feeling about what we are doing, which I am very pleased about.”
The next coffee morning is on March 4 in the Regis Centre. Some tickets are left for the Friends’ Murder on the Titanic night at 7.30pm on March 14 at the centre.
Priced £10, they can be bought from Unique Promotions in The Arcade.
n Bognor Pier Trust is about to ask the Heritage Lottery Fund for £10,000 for an engineer’s report on the pier to help its main application.