Fury over beach hut lease proposal

OWNERS of some of the most expensive wooden huts in the country are concerned that their rents will go up after being told a long-term lease will replace their annual licence fee.

OWNERS of some of the most expensive wooden huts in the country are concerned that their rents will go up after being told a long-term lease will replace their annual licence fee.

Beach hut owners in Southwold have received a letter from Waveney District Council stating it is intending to substitute its yearly renewable fee with a new rent charge and long-term lease, possibly of up to 30 years, from April next year.

The hut owners currently pay the council an annual one-off sum of £250 for each seafront hut, which have been selling for up to £40,000 and adorn the latest edition cover of The Rough Guide to Britain.

One of the 248 beach hut owners, who did not want to be named, said the letter had left many fearing they would be driven away because they could not afford to stay.


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"My feeling is that Waveney District Council, in their greed, are trying to change the face of Southwold and get the people off," he added.

Dr Slim Dinsdale, chairman of Southwold Beach Hut Owners Association and owner of a beach hut for 20 years, said: "In principle a lease is better as long as the terms are acceptable as renewable fees could be terminated by either side with only three months notice.

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"A 30-year lease would give the owners greater security of tenure but at a price and that gives owners concern."

He also felt the council had gone back on their word for sending out letters before consulting with him over the final proposal, but was happy they could come to an acceptable agreement at a meeting next week.

He said: "It was a pity but the feeling came across that Waveney was treating the association with contempt. But any bad feelings are water under the bridge and I am looking forward to a constructive and positive meeting with them."

David Holland, spokesman for the council, said: "The letter is only a way of forewarning that we are intending to offer long-term leases instead of annual licence fees to owners.

"Costs and length of leases will be negotiated with the Association based on figures recommended by the district valuer because we do not want to be accused of plucking figures out of the air."

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