Published: 06:00, 25 June 2021
| Updated: 15:32, 25 June 2021
Plans to invest nearly a million pounds in creating a 'coastal destination' on Romney Marsh have been revealed.
The project was unveiled in a new report which outlines a proposal to add more than 100 beach huts, toilet and changing facilities, holiday lets, a cafe and concession stand in the Coast Drive car park, in Littlestone.
Better car parking facilities are also planned, as well as public realm improvements that will "create a true visitor destination".
The scheme was discussed by members of Folkestone and Hythe District Council's cabinet.
Cllr David Wimble (Ind) said: "There is not a single person in New Romney who is not behind this. They all think it is an excellent idea."
Cllr David Godfrey (Con) said it will be a great attraction that will improve the area and attract visitors.
Around 28 chalets already line the seafront at Littlestone-on-Sea, close to the New Romney Sea Cadet building.
But this new scheme would allow for an extra 108 colourful beach huts to be installed, with a boardwalk laid out in front of them.
The huts would be staggered so that each one had a view of the sea.
A new modern toilet facility is also planned, with a proposed cafe or kiosk also included in the design to "bring in revenue and to further the offering at the site".
Improved parking layout is also required - allowing for 72 spaces - plus new bins and signs, with the potential to add solar panels to bring in green energy.
A drawing of the project, plus a layout of the masterplan, was included within the cabinet report.
Subject to planning permission, it is hoped the scheme would be in place by summer 2022.
The total cost of the project is anticipated to be £893,000.
Existing allocated council funding of £375,000 would go towards the project, and the additional £518,000 needed is proposed to be added to the borrowing in the financial year 2021/22.
The council hopes it will see a return of nearly £2 million over 25 years.
The cabinet report stated: "The Marsh coastal areas are much loved throughout the summer season and welcome large numbers of tourists as well as providing recreational space to local residents.
"Like all areas of Folkestone and Hythe’s district, numbers have increased year on year and increasingly during the pandemic.
"Managing these numbers, whilst actively promoting and supporting the areas moving forward is important.
"The investment into Coast Drive Car Park will create a coastal destination, boost tourism and business on the Marsh whilst providing an important revenue stream into the council.
"This project shows an investment into the Marsh by the council and with the proposed long term actions presents an exciting opportunity for not just the Marsh but the whole district."
Other locations - St Mary’s Bay car park and Fisherman’s Beach in Hythe - were also considered for the scheme, but Littlestone was considered the best option, the report states.
"The investment into Coast Drive Car Park will create a coastal destination.."
The project would follow a similar development in Folkestone, where its existing beach huts were renovated and additional wooden ones added.
This scheme currently has 100% occupancy rates with a waiting list of over 800 people.
Last year, plans to build 20 new houses in the Coast Drive car park were rejected by members of Folkestone & Hythe council's planning committee.
Objectors said the scheme would have an impact on neighbours, the environment and tourism, as essential beach car parking spaces would be lost.