New beach hut sites to meet soaring demand in Lowestoft
PLANS for 36 new beach huts look set to be approved for Pakefield beach to help meet soaring demand.
An application to create sites for the huts on the promenade off Pakefield Road has been submitted by Waveney District Council which has come under growing pressure to provide more in the Lowestoft area.
With about 500 names on the waiting list – and people facing an average wait of up to 15 years – the council's development control committee is due to discuss the proposals on Tuesday.
A report to members, compiled by council officers, says the 36 beach hut sites 'would be available for lease by the public' and that the occupiers 'would be responsible for providing their own beach huts'.
The plots would all be let on a seasonal basis from April to October.
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Although there have been three objections from people living in Borrow Road, Pakefield Road and Wilson Road, citing concerns about the appearance of the huts, the use of the promenade and parking, the application is being recommended for approval.
The report states: 'The plot sizes are all two metres by two metres and it is indicated that the beach huts would all follow the design set out in the application. The lessees will provide their own beach huts but these factors mean that all the huts would have a consistent appearance.'
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It adds: 'It is proposed to position the beach hut sites on the existing promenade, along the landward edge. The promenade is six to seven metres wide in this area and there are no existing structures.
'The appearance of the huts is considered to be acceptable and a co-ordinated colour scheme could be applied via the conditions of the lease. The proposals to prevent matters are considered to be sufficient to allow the tourism benefits of this proposal to outweigh potential harm.
'Approval is recommended with a planning condition to control maximum size of the beach huts.'
Speaking ahead of the meeting, a Waveney spokesman told The Journal that in Lowestoft there were currently 144 beach hut sites and 194 seasonal lets, but this was failing to keep up with demand.
The spokesman said: 'There are currently circa 500 names on the waiting list for beach huts – 130 for sites and 370 for huts. The average wait is 10 to 15 years for a site or hut to become available.'
As well as the longer lets, there are also 30 weekly-let beach huts in Lowestoft, but the council said it was 'looking to reduce' this for next year to release more huts to people on the seasonal waiting list.
The proposals follow similar applications by Waveney to provide new beach huts in Southwold where the fierce demand for them has seen some of the wooden chalets exchanging hands for more than �40,000.
There have also been calls – voiced on The Journal's Postbox page – for a change to the lease system in Lowestoft, amid complaints that some people are sub-letting huts or passing them to friends or relatives, rather than freeing them up to those on the waiting list.
The Waveney spokesman added: 'The creation of additional sites allows customers to have an opportunity to have a site. Building permanent huts is not an option therefore to reduce the waiting lists the 'sites' option is the most sensible.
'The waiting lists are managed, and when a hut or site becomes available the customer(s) at the top of the list are contacted and the site/hut offered. If a customer declines a site or hut due to its location we move down the list.
'If a customer refuses a site or hut three times they are moved to the bottom of the list.
'Sub-letting is not authorised. If we can prove this has taken place we will terminate the agreement and go to the waiting list to fill the hut. This last happened last summer where we were able to prove sub-letting took place and evicted the occupier.'