Monday, May 5, 2014
District bosses’ attempts to rubber stamp year-round beach huts on Budleigh seafront have been strongly opposed by town councillors.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) said at the beginning of 2013 that the huts would move from summer-only to year-round use, with an associated hike in fees.
Initially EDDC did not think planning permission was needed, but after questions from Budleigh councillor Tom Wright the authority conceded there was an ‘anomaly’.
Now, after more than a year and with the huts having already spent one storm-ravaged winter on the beach, the formal planning application has appeared, and Budleigh Salterton Town Council has been given the chance to have its say.
Councillor Alan Jones said: “Many people come to Budleigh Salterton in winter, mainly to walk along the seafront and enjoy the seafront.
“Walking behind a lot of structures certainly takes some of the pleasure away, and if they are going to go somewhere else to spend their money I don’t think this is very good for the town.”
Councillor Tom Wright supported Cllr Jones’s view, and also questioned EDDC’s assessment of the risk to year-round huts from weather.
He said: “During the winter months we have lost the amenity of that wonderful uninterrupted view that does bring many people to Budleigh.
“In [EDDC’s] flood assessment it says they have not taken into account wave effect. I was down there when the huts were being moved about [by storms] and the waves were coming up and floating the beach huts.
“The huts to the west of Steamer Steps are also in danger of cliff fall, which is another ground for them being unsustainable, letting people sit under cliffs which are at risk of falling and have fallen this year.”
Councillor Wright added that the initial approach for year-round huts had been made by 10 of the tenants.
Councillors also raised concerns that EDDC would be unable to enforce the conditions of their planning permission with hut owners, and questioned how it would work in practice.
Councillor Courtney Richards said: “If a hut owner wants to take their hut down, do they have to apply for permission, and again to put it back up?
“This is an ill-thought-out application from EDDC. They have not thought through what they are doing and have bunged something together in embarrassment when [the anomaly] was pointed out to them.”
Members of the town council’s planning committee voted to object to the scheme, with concerns also raised about the huts’ effect on the Jurassic Coast and East Devon Area of Natural Beauty.
A final decision on planning permission will be made by councillors on EDDC’s development management committee.