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Decision on beach hut scheme postponed as Folkestone council cancels all meetings

A key decision on whether to overhaul the look of Folkestone's seafront has been postponed.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in keeping with government advice, Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) has cancelled all planned meetings at the Civic Centre, in Castle Hill Avenue.

The new plans would see 80 new huts installed
The new plans would see 80 new huts installed

This include's tonight's planning meeting, which among other items on the agenda included the application for the divisive beach chalet scheme.

The proposals outline plans to demolish 44 beach huts along Marine Parade and renovate 35 of the existing ones.

Plans also included installing 80 more - resulting in a total of 115 chalets along the stretch of beach from Folkestone to Sandgate.

The plans were first announced last year and have been put forward by trustees of the Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds (FPPG), 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.

These huts are expected to escape demolition
These huts are expected to escape demolition

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

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

Some also hit out at the concept of wooden huts.

At the same meeting a loan for half a million pounds from FHDC to the parks and pleasure grounds charity was approved, to kick-start the scheme.

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.

The application also includes plans to improve the surrounding infrastructure, which has fallen into disrepair over the years.

The recreation ground in New Romney
The recreation ground in New Romney

Work will include fixing the surface water drainage, cracked supporting walls, collapsed banks, failing steps, broken handrails and numerous surface trip hazards.

Ramps will be improved to allow disabled access to a large number of the huts, and engineering work will repair four land slips that have occurred close to the Lower Leas coastal park.

In January, all tenants were told to remove their belongings from the huts as the council prepared for the renovation work.

But following the cancellation of tonight's meeting, it is not known when it will now be put to the planning committee for a decision.

Other items on tonight's agenda included the erection of a community hall and sports pavilion on the recreation ground in Station Road, New Romney. Permission was also being sough to build 34 homes and a new play area on the same land.

A decision on creating 20 new homes and parking provisions in the Coast Drive Car Park in Coast Drive, Greatstone was also expected to be made.

All three applications were recommended for approval.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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