Published: 06:00, 07 September 2021
| Updated: 15:06, 07 September 2021
A council’s money-spinning bid to build more than 100 beach huts along the coast is set to receive the green light – despite dozens of objections.
Twenty of the seafront structures are planned for a plot in Tankerton, while 10 more are being eyed up further along the coast in Western Esplanade, Herne Bay, and 84 in East Cliff Promenade, Beltinge.
The projects are part of attempts by the cash-strapped authority to try to plug a financial black hole caused largely by the pandemic.
But the Tankerton scheme has been opposed by 95 residents, with just one voicing support for the scheme, amid fears it will spark a rise in the number of rats in the area.
“Control of the rat population last summer was inadequate,” hut owner Glyn Levis said.
“They were appearing throughout the day running between huts, resulting in a potential increase in Weil’s disease, which is particularly unpleasant for children.
“More huts would provide more accommodation for the animals, exacerbating an already rising problem.
“I understand that there is a market for further beach huts but I believe that more time should be spent on researching the potential of other sites that would have less impact on the current site.”
Fellow locals also voice fears that the addition of the huts will lead to overcrowding, present a fire risk and trigger an increase in anti-social behaviour.
One Marine Parade resident argues the project will end up “destroying a beautiful space”.
Hut owner Christine Todd added: “Parking is impossible at times.
“On several occasions I have had to return home to Canterbury because I simply cannot park in the immediate vicinity and, as I get older, I cannot walk great distances when parking farther away.
“Extra beach huts will mean more traffic and parking chaos.”
However, all three beach hut projects have been recommended for approval by city council officers ahead of tonight’s planning committee meeting.
“Concerns that beach hut owners will lose their view and have reduced space between huts are not material planning considerations,” they explained.
“Likewise, the suggestion that additional beach huts will result in increased anti-social behaviour, crime, litter and rats cannot be assumed.
“The provision of additional huts will not materially increase the number of people using the beach and local area.
“The proposed developments would make better use of the land and provide tourism facilities in a sustainable location.”
Drawings show the new properties in Marine Parade, Tankerton, are earmarked for land in between two existing rows of beach huts along the seafront.
The authority wants to add the 10 structures in Western Esplanade to a line of huts below Albany Drive.
Meanwhile, the 84 planned for East Cliff will be built to the east of Herne Bay Sailing Club in phases over three years.
When the plans were first revealed last year, city council spokesman Rob Davies told KentOnline the authority was hoping to capitalise on the growing staycation market.
“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...”
Calling it a “commercial project to bring in income”, he said: “Our finances are in a perilous state.
“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.
“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.”
Councillors will vote on the projects on Thursday.