December 13 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
A planning loophole has led to fears that Budleigh’s beach hut owners could be left paying for an empty patch of land during the winter, or be forced to apply for planning permission.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) decided earlier this year that its beach huts and hut sites, which before were only available during the summer months, would now be rented all year round, with hut owners’ fees increased accordingly.
However, when Budleigh councillor Tom Wright asked in July if the year-round huts would need planning permission, EDDC said they would have to look into it, and hut owners are still waiting for an answer.
This led one Budleigh resident, who has rented a plot for her beach huts next to the East End Café for 30 years, to contact the council, and she was surprised by the response.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said: “I had heard that a fisherman’s hut was being planned at the western end of the beach so, out of curiosity, I rang the planning enforcers to see if I needed planning permission for my plot. The lady checked with her colleagues and she said yes.”
“I was surprised. I could face having to rent an eight by six plot all year round without being allowed to put anything on it.”
In response, an EDDC spokesman said that a decision had not yet been reached.
He said: “Since the original decision to assist those beach hut hirers who wanted to use their huts beyond the summer season by allowing year-round access, a planning anomaly has come to light.
“This could potentially have an impact on people who hire EDDC huts and also those who put their own huts on council-owned pitches.
“Officers are currently investigating the options to find a pragmatic solution to this problem that would avoid putting hirers to any trouble or additional expense.
“Once this solution has been identified and agreed, we will be contacting all our beach hut customers to explain what will happen next.”
Councillor Wright said: “EDDC is looking into planning implications of extending the beach hut season, and will take into account any comments made by the relevant authorities, such the Heritage Coast and Natural England.
“It might be that more consideration should have been given. Perhaps in hindsight there might have been more consultation to the relevant authorities.”
Budleigh town mayor Steve Hall added that he had asked town clerk Jo Vanstone to chase the matter up with EDDC.