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Walmer beach huts protest continues against Dover District Council

By Emily Stott

Nine of the controversial beach huts on Walmer seafront have been removed – but objectors say it is still not enough.

It was announced on Monday that nine of the 20 beach huts would go after complaints to the district council and yesterday (Saturday) Cranes came to lift the sheds and tae them away.

Residents protesting against beach huts on the Strand
Residents protesting against beach huts on the Strand

The main concerns are the cluttered “eyesore” appearance and the £1,200 annual rent – four times the rent of the present fishermen’s huts.

MP for Deal and Dover Charlie Elphicke has welcomed the decision after he wrote to the council complaining the huts were placed too close together.

The huts were removed on Saturday
The huts were removed on Saturday

Mr Elphicke said: “I am pleased the district council has made this decision to ensure beach huts on Walmer seafront are more in character with the area.

“This is a victory for all those who care about the beachscape of the beautiful Walmer seafront.”

However, most residents are not satisfied, with more than 400 people signing a petition for a row of huts to be removed, which means a further four would need to go.

Joanna Thomson protesting against beach huts
Joanna Thomson protesting against beach huts

Joanna Thomson, owner of the Coast House Bed and Breakfast in Deal, has been leading the petition. She said: “It’s a great start because it shows they are listening but most people would like to see a row of them taken away.”

Mrs Thomson also explained that residents believed the application was not handled fairly and they planned to refer the issue to the Local Government Ombudsman. She said: “We think there’s a false statement in the planning application.

“The application form which was submitted in autumn last year shows Roger Walton, who is Dover District Council’s officer for environmental and corporate assets, applied on behalf of the council, and where he’s supposed to declare if he is a member of staff he said ‘No’.

“The other thing that has come up is that if they’re changing the huts, they should re-apply for planning permission, in which case we would all be much more on the ball.”

Mrs Thomson will submit the petition to Walmer parish and district councillor Pat Heath.

Nigel Collor, portfolio holder for property, visited on Monday morning and the decision was made to remove some of the huts.

A DDC spokesman said: “The remaining 11 huts are being relocated to make the most of the sea views. Particular regard is being paid to the views from the seating area of the Seafront Café. The council was not aware of the petition until Tuesday, but has already decided to remove more huts than the petition requires.

“The council recognizes that the scale of the changes means that the current permission may need to be revised as soon as possible but, in light of the strength of feeling and the upcoming events on Walmer Green, the council decided to act.”

Michael Allsopp's picture posted on Facebook naming Walmer 'Shedville'
Michael Allsopp's picture posted on Facebook naming Walmer 'Shedville'

With regards to DDC’s Roger Walton, the spokesman said: “The form has been completed correctly. A member of staff only has to declare they are an employee when they are applying for planning permission in a personal capacity.”

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