Moving beach huts would 'harm heritage' of resort where craze started
- Credit: Archant
Proposals to move beach huts blocking a seaside prom have drawn criticism from owners and residents who claim it will harm the resort's heritage.
Opponents claim the area near Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion was where the beach hut craze started in Victorian times.
The huts at the centre of the dispute used to stand on the beach next to the theatre.
However, the 55 huts were moved onto the prom nearly four years ago after the shore suffered severe erosion, and East Suffolk Council has been desperately searching for a new permanent site for them ever since.
The huts block half of a busy area of prom used by walkers, cyclists and the chalet owners, and also for events such as the annual historic car rally and Art on the Prom.
Now the council wants to move 16 of the huts to the south seafront - in front of the sea wall at Martello Park.
Enthusiasts though believe the huts should stay near the Spa Pavilion.
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Francis Law, of Tomline Road, Felixstowe, said: "Huts have been present on this site since at least 1891, making it the very first location of the modern beach hut in the whole of the United Kingdom.
"Surely East Suffolk Council should be focusing on preserving and maximising the great heritage of Felixstowe in this regard, especially in these post-Covid staycation boom times, rather than seeking to banish these beach huts and their families, friends and rental guests to the far ends of the town?"
Hut owner Ruth Dugdall-Marshall is objecting and feels the huts' re-location is "being rushed through, without due consideration for the historical and heritage aspect of having beach huts in the Spa area" and there was no clear or convincing justification.
She added: "They are part of the Spa area's DNA. To remove beach huts from this area would forever change the look of Felixstowe, and would forever change the vista of the conservation area."
Other hut owners have complained about the move, especially the distance to the new site.
Felixstowe Town Council has recommended the plans are approved.
The re-sited huts would stand in front of Martello Tower P but a heritage report for the council said the "degree of harm (to the monument) is considered to be at the low end of less than substantial".