Should more beach huts be sited at The Dip?
PUBLISHED: 16:46 19 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:46 19 October 2018
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Proposals to put a row of 17 beach huts on land at The Dip in Old Felixstowe to generate more income for Suffolk Coastal council have received more than 20 objections.
The project will see the boatpark area on the left hand side as you walk down the slipway towards the prom turned into a beach hut area.
Land on the right – currently an unused stepped-concrete area next to the toilets – will be turned into parking for watersports enthusiasts.
The district council has twice put forward plans for the area in Cliff Road but not proceeded with either.
It hopes its third go at utilising the area will overcome previous objections.
However, nearby residents are furious – and fear the development will worsen parking problems in the area.
In summer, people illegally park on the grass verges along Cliff Road, causing danger while pulling on and off, rather than use nearby pay-and-display car parks.
One of the objecting residents, John Elsey wrote to the council: “I note that you are now making provision for a handful of parking spaces adjacent to the new beach hut site to be shared by the new hut users and the windsurfers.
“This is purely paying lip service to an already serious parking problem.
“Your attempts to support your application by suggesting that a successful application will bring much needed revenue to the local authority, thereby helping the taxpayer, is really derisory.
“This last summer season has shown that visitors are now choosing to park illegally in Cliff Road, rather than pay to park in the two car parks at the Cliff Top and at Brackenbury.
“Only when the verges along Cliff Road are full will motorists think about the car parks. If you were really concerned about revenue you would do something about filling up your car parks.
“Motorists mistakenly believe they can park on the verges so long as no part of their vehicle is on the single yellow line – once a few do this then everyone else follows in the belief that is legal. Motorists are now driving up and down Cliff Road waiting for a space to become available whilst the car parks remain relatively empty.
“There was a time when permanent ‘No parking on the Grass Verge’ signs were in place along Cliff Road. They have long since gone and then the police would place temporary No Waiting signs along the length of Cliff Road.
“Times have changed and parking is no longer a priority for the police.”
Other residents expressed similar concerns.
One major worry is that there could be an accident involving people getting in and out of the illegally parked cars.
Felixstowe Town Council has “strongly welcomed” the beach huts and watersport parking project.
Neil Cockshaw, programmes and partnerships manager for economic services at Suffolk Coastal, said previous problems with implementing plans for the beach huts had arisen because of objections from windsurfers who used the boatpark, and who paid the council up to £500 a year to use it.
After a series of meetings with the windsurfer group representatives to find a compromise solution that would allow the windsurfers (and other water sports users) to continue to use the area as a launch point into the sea, whilet allowing Suffolk Coastal to move forward with its plans to provide more beach huts, the latest planning application was drawn up.
The key change to the amended application was the creation of a new vehicle access and parking area of eight spaces for watersports users.
Mr Cockshaw felt the addition of 17 beach huts would not generate extra parking pressures as there are two nearby car parks.
He said: “Concerns have previously been raised regarding existing parking issues on Cliff Road, particularly the parking of cars on the roadside verge in this area. The verge is part of the highway and therefore it is subject to the same parking restrictions as the road and it is not a permitted parking area.
“This stretch of Cliff Road has a daytime parking restriction with a single yellow line between 8am-7pm from May to September.
“This is a civil parking enforcement matter and not something that the district council presently has control over. In the near future, civil parking enforcement will become the district council’s responsibility and the existing issues will be reviewed at that time.”
Suffolk Coastal’s planning team said: “Faced with reducing central government support, SCDC is under increasing pressure to improve the income it generates to maintain the extent and quality of core services, and has a responsibility to reduce the financial burden of its taxpayers by maximising potential income opportunities.
“As a result the East Suffolk Business plan contains the specific action to ‘Increase the number of beach huts provided in the District by at least 10% by 2019.’ In practice this means approximately 100 new huts by 2019.
“Therefore, a comprehensive review of the beach hut service has been undertaken to fully understand how the portfolio operates, to identify any service efficiencies and to consider further income generation opportunities.
“In addition, the council is faced with the need to consider long term options for the relocation of some beach huts from other areas of the seafront of Felixstowe, where changing beach levels dictate that existing huts placed on the sand are no longer a sustainable option. This site may provide one of many options for the relocation of huts.”
Suffolk Coastal councillors are expected to make a decision this autumn.