THE campaign to preserve the 137-year-old Hythe pier has passed a “key milestone” by having its charitable aims recognised by the taxman.
The Hythe Pier Heritage Association (HPHA) has successfully applied to HMRC to become a charitable community benefits society, which it says will help its bid to transform the structure in Prospect Place into a “vibrant facility”.
The status makes it easier for the association to issue shares, reorganise, and for its members to have equal voting rights.
As reported in the A&T, it is working with Blue Funnel which owns the historic pier, from which the ferry embarks for Southampton. The service was nearly axed by its previous owner, White Horse, before being bought out last year.
HPHA chair Peter King said: “This is a significant achievement and a key milestone in our development as we move towards the start of the project to preserve, protect, restore and redevelop Hythe Pier. We now have the structure in place and the charitable status that we need.
“We are working with Blue Funnel Ferries to finalise an agreement that will confer legal status on us and allow the restoration project to commence in spring 2019.
“This campaign began two years ago amidst great uncertainty, with the very future of the pier train and ferry being in real doubt.
“Throughout this period we have remained consistent and clear about our objectives. We want to secure a long-term future for the pier, the historic railway and the associated buildings and structures. We want to create a vibrant facility for public benefit.”