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Herne Bay B&B owner’s anger as flats bid snubbed


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A furious B&B owner has branded a decision to reject his plans to transform his struggling business into flats a “joke”.

Nick Coffin wanted to convert Evening Tide guesthouse in Central Parade, Herne Bay, into four homes in February, after battling to turn a profit over the past two years.

Evening Tide owner Nick Coffin
Evening Tide owner Nick Coffin

While the businessman blames the drop in trade in part on Covid and the subsequent fall in European tourist numbers, he believes the rise of Airbnb has squeezed him most.

“People get flats and stuff now on Airbnb, that’s why this kind of business isn’t good any more,” Mr Coffin argued.

“Business is up and down. Basically, it’s only worth opening Fridays, Saturdays and holidays.

“I want to change it into four properties that will be full for 12 months a year, rather than having empty rooms for seven months a year.

“I’m not really making any money, but I’m not making a loss on it. If I had a mortgage I’d be in serious trouble.”

Airbnb searches show the number of Herne Bay properties advertised on its site has swelled to almost 100, while there are now just eight traditional B&Bs in the town.

KentOnline analysis shows there are more than 700 Airbnbs available further along the coast in Thanet, which recorded a 450% increase in the holiday lets between 2016 and 2019.

Evening Tide guest house in Central Parade, Herne Bay
Evening Tide guest house in Central Parade, Herne Bay

Evening Tide has also been marketed by estate agency Wilbee and Son for almost £900,000 over the 18 months, with a sale failing to materialise.

However, officials from the local authority say they refused Mr Coffin’s proposals as he “failed to demonstrate he made every reasonable effort to first secure the use of the building for cultural, tourism, economic or community uses”.

Mr Coffin believes the decision is unfair, as another B&B two doors down from his was given the go-ahead to be converted into a house in 2012.

“I know the score – you need to have these things on the market for a year to see if they’ll sell,” Mr Coffin continued.

“I had it on the market for a year and a half.”

He also claims he had only three hours to put his case across to the council.

“I was away on the day the decision was issued and at 2pm, I got an email from my architects saying the council was going to refuse it because of marketing by 5pm,” he said.

"People get flats and stuff now on Airbnb, that’s why this kind of business isn’t good any more..."

“They turned it down without giving me any opportunity to get an expert marketing report.

“I’ve got to go to appeal, and I will get it.

“Why am I being told I can’t do it?”

Despite the setback, Mr Coffin stresses he will press ahead with plans to close Evening Tide in September, adding: “The council can’t force me to run a business I can’t make any money out of.”

Outlining the reason for the council’s decision, spokesman Rob Davies said: “No details as to how the current facility has been managed, marketed or operated have been provided.

“In the absence of this information, the applicant failed to satisfactorily demonstrate that the tourist accommodation in this location is no longer needed.

“They failed to demonstrate that they have made every reasonable effort to first secure the use of the building for cultural, tourism, economic or community uses.”

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