Published: 09:59, 27 November 2020
| Updated: 10:01, 27 November 2020
More than 100 new beach huts could be built along the coast - with council bosses hoping to raise £2 million from the sales.
Demand has “gone bonkers” during the pandemic and the huts are expected to “go like hot cakes”.
Canterbury City Council is looking to use the profits from the scheme to help plug its £9 million financial black hole.
Plans show the cash-strapped authority wants to build 20 of the seafront structures off Marine Parade in Tankerton, 10 further along the coast in Western Esplanade, Herne Bay, and 84 along East Cliff Promenade, Beltinge.
Spokesman Rob Davies says the city council wants to capitalize on the staycation market, which has boomed since the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Our finances are in a perilous state,” he explained.
“One of our key approaches has been to look for income-raising opportunities, which will reduce the level of savings we need to find and help us retain vital front-line services such as rough sleeper work and reducing homelessness.
“The plan for new beach huts is therefore a commercial project to bring in income, as well as meeting the demand we know exists.
"Even taking into account the build costs, we would expect to make a healthy profit, which would help us balance the books in the next couple of years.
“We are absolutely certain that local residents would support us in pursuing income-generating projects like this, rather than having to cut services more and more.”
Should the proposals be given the go-ahead, the huts are expected to be ready for next summer and be sold on the open market.
Mr Davies believes the new-builds will “go like hot cakes” due to the recent surge in popularity of holidays along the Kent coast.
The seaside properties have recently been selling in Herne Bay for about £16,000, while in Whitstable they have tended to fetch fees in the region of £25,000.
Heron councillor Andrew Cook, who also chairs Herne Bay Beach Hut Owners’ Association, says the town has seen prices rise by as much as 30%.
“Over the Covid period, the prices have gone up dramatically because people can’t holiday abroad and spend fortunes flying all over the world,” he said.
“These people – who are local – have a lot of disposable income to spend now.
“Beforehand people would be choosy – but now they’re buying anything because everyone’s desperate to get their hands on a beach hut. It’s gone bonkers.”
Cllr Cook – who estimates that there are about 260 huts in the town – also says owners have been approached directly by individuals wanting to buy or hire their beach boltholes.
The council is bidding to add the 10 properties in Western Esplanade to a line of huts below Albany Drive.
Drawings also reveal that the 84 planned for East Cliff will be built to the east of Herne Bay Sailing Club in phases over three years.
Meanwhile, the new properties in Tankerton are earmarked for land in between two existing rows of beach huts along the seafront.
Cllr Cook continued: “It’s the most luxurious thing to have when you can’t go anywhere.
“We had waiting lists already, but they’ve got phenomenally large this year. Maybe now that there have been breakthroughs with vaccines, we’ll see the prices level off a little.”