Decision made on controversial Lowestoft beach huts
- Credit: East Suffolk Council
Bold new beach huts which have divided opinion over their striking designs have been given the go-ahead by planners this afternoon.
East Suffolk Council's planning north committee voted by six votes to three to approve the £2.6million plans, put in by the authority itself to replace old concrete huts on Jubilee Parade with 72 modern alternatives.
The 'marmite' designs have sparked widespread debate within the county and nationally, with some hailing their modern look while others have likened them to "shipping containers".
Why do they look like that?
The committee meeting heard that the designs had been carefully thought out. The angled design has been planned so that when they are in place they face partly southwards, in order to benefit from more sunshine through the day, with the tips facing eastwards in a nod to Lowestoft's position as England's most easterly point.
From afar they are meant to resemble a wave.
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Jerene Irwin, architect and agent on behalf of East Suffolk Council said: "The proposed design may seem very different in how they look to a traditional beach hut but they are fundamentally the same.
"We believe that the variety and the fact that these ones do look different will add to the diversity of the seafront area that the residents are rightly proud of, and we believe that this can positively contribute to the regeneration of the area.
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"Beach huts are special to people and these ones are specially designed for this specific location."
What did the decision-makers think?
Much like the public, the designs have divided opinion among the councillors deciding on the proposal.
Councillor Norman Brooks said they were "innovative", explaining: "I think we as East Suffolk are forward looking - we have got really ambitious plans to bring Lowestoft town centre up to date and I think is is a part of it".
However Councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said: "People love them or loathe them and we cannot ignore that - it seems such a shame when we are putting money into the area to go with something so controversial when we could choose a design the majority of people are happy with."
Kirkley and Pakefield ward councillor Peter Byatt recognised both sides of the debate and even suggested a mix of old and new style huts, but said "we should embrace this opportunity to be bold and creative".
What has the public said?
Among the public representations were 25 objections and nine supporters Some felt the designs were "exciting and unusual" and "innovative and contemporary".
However, others were less complimentary, dubbing them "ugly and unsuitable", "eye-jarring" and "awful".
Why are they needed?
The authority was forced to close 58 concrete chalet beach huts back in 2016 because they were no longer deemed safe.
They were bulldozed last year and stabilisation work to the cliffs has been ongoing since then.to prepare the area for the new beach huts.
The development features 10 which are wheelchair accessible, while additional space for people to sit in front of them means the promenade should not be blocked by those occupying them.
The plans were originally to be decided at last month's committee, but had to be deferred to May because the public consultation had not concluded by the date of the meeting.