Beach hut owners could lose their site licences if new locations refused
- Credit: East Suffolk Council
Beach hut owners could face having their huts removed from the seafront if plans to relocate them to new sites are refused.
East Suffolk Council said the site licences for the huts - currently on the prom near Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion because of erosion to the shore - will "reluctantly be terminated on the basis that no safe and viable location remains".
An extraordinary meeting of the council's planning committee on Monday, March 7 will consider proposals to move the 44 huts to South Beach, Clifflands, Manor End, Golf Road, and south of the pier for safety reasons.
The council said for the past three years it has been in regular consultation with beach hut owners as it has sought new locations and thoroughly explored all reasonable options, including beach platforms.
It added: "However, it is now clear that there is no safe option for their return to the beach and the temporary solution, which impacts on other users of the promenade, is not a viable permanent option."
Steve Gallant, council leader, said: “Safety is our absolute, number one priority and we have been clear to beach hut owners about this throughout a three-year examination of all options.
“The levels of erosion mean it is simply not possible for huts to return to the beach and their relocation to the promenade was only ever going to be temporary given the considerable disruption caused to other visitors.
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“We have now identified a number of alternative locations. However, they are subject to consideration by the planning committee and no guarantees can be made about the outcome of this process. Therefore, the possibility remains, as has been communicated regularly to beach hut owners, that licences may need to be revoked.
“This is clearly the last thing that we or anyone wants to happen, however, there is simply no other viable alternative, and we will absolutely not, ever, compromise on safety. Fundamentally, this comes down to the aggressive changes in beach conditions which are affecting great swathes of the Suffolk coast.
“We are working as hard as we possibly can to support everyone affected and we have every sympathy with the beach hut owners. They have been consulted throughout this process and we want to take their wishes into consideration as much as possible. But there is, sadly, only so much we can do when faced with the impacts and effects of coastal erosion.”
Objections have poured in over the plans - nearly 150 in relation to all the proposed new sites.
The proposal to extend the beach platform south of the pier to add six huts to the current 16 is recommended for approval by the district councillors but not by Felixstowe Town Council. Both authorities recommend approval for 18 huts on the beach at Clifflands, though the town council says hut owners must be warned of the risk of storm damage.
While district planners recommend approval of 18 huts at the top of the Golf Road cliffs, the town council is against because of the loss of seven to 16 trees.
Proposals for 16 huts in front of the sea wall at Manor End are supported by the town council but district planners advise refusal because of the loss of vegetated shingle habitat.
As yet hut owners do not know where they would be moved and consultation is ongoing.