Legal threat over beach hut rent hike

BEACH hut owners in Southwold are threatening legal action amid an ongoing row over "outrageous" annual rent increases of up to five times the current fee.

BEACH hut owners in Southwold are threatening legal action amid an ongoing row over "outrageous" annual rent increases of up to five times the current fee.

Southwold Beach Hut Owners' Association has been negotiating with Waveney District Council after it was announced last year that a 30-year lease and annual rent fee would replace the current yearly licence fee of up to £250.

The council's valuer has proposed rents should be raised to between £475 for the lowest band huts and to £1,300 for the highest band huts - which have been sold for up to £40,000 - over the next three years.

But SBHOA chairman, Dr Slim Dinsdale, has instructed their solicitors to mount a legal challenge before the present licence system ends this month.


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Dr Dinsdale, who lives near Bungay, said: "It's just utterly outrageous. The majority of hut owners do not have vast incomes - they are people on fixed incomes and any increases will be quite devastating for them.

"If the rent goes up by too much it will bring a lot of huts onto the market and have a knock on effect for Southwold and decrease their value and any revenue Waveney may get from their 'Jewel in the Crown'."

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Keith Wilkinson, 70, who lives in Spexhall, near Halesworth, has had a hut in his family for 40 years and is hoping to pass it on to his children and grandchildren.

He said: "It is completely ridiculous. If the rents go up we may have to get rid of it. I do not want to as the whole concept of being retired is that one hopes to go down there and sit and have a cup of coffee and read the paper."

Chartered surveyor and hut owner Jeff Fuller, said his hut had been in the family since the 1950s and is of huge sentimental value.

"Beach huts don't go onto the market very often and when they do, people from outside the area are prepared to pay a lot of money," he said.

Under the new proposals, owners of huts in Band A - huts mostly north of the pier - will pay either £475 or £700, Band B huts owners will have to shell out £910 and Band C huts - those at Gun Hill - will be getting a bill for £1,300.

The association has offered the council a £450 annual rent with the £200 increase stepped over five years for the huts in Band C, with the same relative increase for other band huts.

A spokesman for the council said: "Negotiations are confidential and continuing and we do not want to say anything that would pre-empt a decision."

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