The owner of Hastings Pier has confirmed he will open the gates next week.
The pier has been closed since December 2018 to allow time for repairs which owner Sheikh Abid Gulzar said were ‘essential’ following a fire in November.
Last week the pier’s opening was said to be delayed until after Easter.
But today (March 26) Mr Gulzar has announced the landmark will open on Monday (April 1).
He has asked the community to “bear with him” in his bid to make the iconic site a huge success.
Mr Gulzar said: “I was, is and will always be very confident about the successful future of Hastings Pier.
“We have advertised both for staff and people interested in hiring our units at the weekend and we were swamped by the response, which is very pleasing.
“I understand and respect that the people of Hastings want to see the pier open again, and none more so than I.
“It has been a difficult period but the time for negativity has gone and I must look forward to make this pier a success.
“I said when I bought it that I would make it a success and I will.
“Make no mistake, Sustaining the Pier was never going to be easy but I was and remain happy to take on the challenge.”
Mr Gulzar, who also owns Eastbourne Pier, said: “I want to hear from people who want to join me in making the pier work, not those who just want to moan.
“Look at Eastbourne Pier, which I bought three years ago. It is beautiful and the town loves it.
“I politely remind people of the troubled past of Hastings Pier and the fact that it went into administration.
“Everyone must understand this. The business model of Hastings Pier before I bought it was very poor, that is obvious to everyone.
“But that is all in the past. I want to focus on the present and indeed the future. The pier is reopening and it will be there for the people to visit, enjoy and also to respect.
“I am 73 and I will put my heart and soul into making the pier a success. I want the town to join me to achieve that.”
Reacting to the announcement, the Friends of Hastings Pier said: “We are delighted to hear the pier is reopening on Monday and look forward to Mr Gulzar unveiling his plans for it.”
Amber Rudd MP also commented, saying: “It would be terrific news if the pier re-opens safely next week, well in time for Easter which has been my priority.
“I know this will be hugely welcome news for residents.”