Members of East Beach Residents Association (EBRA), The Littlehampton Society (TLS), and Protect Coastal Sussex (PCS) wrote to Arun District Council’s chief executive James Hassett to outline their concerns.
They relate to plans for up to 17 new huts to the west of the existing ones on Littlehampton seafront. A number of these could also be placed in the gaps between huts.
A formal planning application has not yet been submitted because Arun District Council’s Economy Committee asked officers to redesign the scheme to make the huts accessible.
Similar plans for 20 huts were refused last year and, in a letter to ADC, Lawrence Haas and Faye Christensen said: “Why this proposal has resurfaced is perplexing to many.
“It was rejected only last April because it conflicts with multiple policies and related concerns raised in many objections.
“While beach huts are nominally ‘popular’, residents and visitors are aware that actual use of beach huts is seasonal, low, highly excluding, and privileged.
“As a reasonable alternative, many would be happy if ADC used a portion of that money to focus on opportunities to improve the provision of disabled access beach huts.”
Residents believe the huts would block sea views from the promenade and would take too long to be profitable – nine years according to ADC’s own business plan.
In response Arun’s director of place, Karl Roberts, argued that new beach huts would ‘provide income for the council’ and ‘generate footfall and economic benefit for the location’ at a time of shrinking government funding.
“Clearly in Littlehampton’s case this supports the local economy of what remains a tourist destination,” Mr Roberts said.
According to the council, ‘beach huts remain in high demand’ and the authority now operates a closed waiting list.
The residents have suggested placing any new, accessible huts nearer to The Beach café to reduce their impact on views and move them closer to facilities.
Mr Roberts said this would not be possible because one area is included in the café lease and another has been deemed ‘less stable’ by the council’s engineers.
But the residents were left dissatisfied by the response, saying: “We ask council officers to avoid spending any more time and money pushing this unwelcome proposal further.
“More creative approaches are necessary.”
One resident criticised the decision to spend ‘£200,000 of our taxpayers’ money’ at a time when many families are struggling with the cost of living.
Jane Wood, owner and builder of East Beach Café, called the proposal ‘awful’.
Chairman of the East Beach Residents Association, David Warne, claimed the existing huts are ‘rarely used’.
“It might be an idea for the council to conduct a six month survey over the summer period to establish usage,” he said, “They could then withdraw the leases for those very rarely used and rent them out on a daily basis.”
But Mr Roberts explained that the council has already explored improving income from existing huts and hopes to now build more in Littlehampton and other locations.