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Folkestone's beach hut scheme to help regenerate the coastline gets planning permission

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Plans to transform the look of Folkestone's coastline by installing 80 new wooden beach huts have been approved.

Planning permission was granted last night to tear down 44 chalets between Folkestone harbour and Sandgate. They have fallen into disrepair and been subjected to vandalism over the years.

The beach hut scheme has now been approved by the planning committee
The beach hut scheme has now been approved by the planning committee

A further 35 of the current huts are due to be renovated - including the tiered chalets - with new roofs, doors and windows.

The proposal, first announced last year, also includes installing 80 wooden huts, similar to ones found in other seaside towns, such as Dover and Whitstable, resulting in a total of 115 beach chalets along Marine Parade.

Improvements are also to be made to the surrounding coastal park, including fixing the surface water drainage, cracked supporting walls, collapsed banks, failing steps, broken handrails and numerous surface trip hazards.

The scheme was approved unanimously by members of Folkestone and Hythe District Council's (FHDC) planning committee.

It was held virtually by Zoom and streamed on Youtube.

The tiered huts will escape demolition
The tiered huts will escape demolition

The decision was expected to be made in March, but that meeting was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Member Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee (Con) said of the project: "It's going to be a benefit to the district.

"It's a great addition and attraction for our area."

Cllr Jackie Mead (Lab) added that beach huts are a "great amenity" to people and hoped that a private landlord will not be considered to deal with letting them to tenants.

The scheme was put to the council by trustees of Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds, a charity made up of councillors which looks after parks in the town and who are landlords of the chalets.

The charity’s first draft of the proposal planned for a higher proportion of the existing huts to be torn down; 58 were to be demolished and only 16 to be retained.

Cllr David Wimble during the virtual planning meeting
Cllr David Wimble during the virtual planning meeting

As part of this plan, 120 new wooden huts were to be installed.

But the U-turn was inspired by intervention of councillors at a full council meeting in November who argued for a higher number of existing huts to be kept.

At the same meeting, councillors approved a loan of £500,000 to the Parks and Pleasure Grounds charity to kickstart the project.

The charity says it is expected to see a return of more than £2m over the next 25 years through chalet rental costs and it is understood more than 100 people are on a waiting list to rent one.

Previous tenants were asked to remove their belongings in January this year as the council worked on the regeneration plans.

It is not known when work will start on the scheme.

At the same meeting, plans to build a new sports hall in New Romney were approved, while a beach front housing scheme was rejected.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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