On Monday (January 11), Rother District Council cabinet members approved plans to lease a Victorian-built and Grade II listed seaside shelter to Bexhill Heritage, following an extensive programme of repairs and restoration costing almost £60,000.
In taking the lease Bexhill Heritage will assist in the restoration work and in the long term plans to bring the shelter back to its original use as a bandstand.
In approving the lease, cabinet members praised the work of the group. Council leader Doug Oliver said: “The wonderful thing about the heritage group is the craft and meticulous way they attend to the shelters.
“I watch them down there on occasion and they really are very skilled and have a lot of passion in what they are doing.”
Jay Brewerton added: “Bexhill Heritage, what a fantastic group. A really strong, dedicated group of volunteers who are protecting the heritage of Bexhill.
“They have really contributed thousands of hours to protecting many assets across the town and I am really proud of them and really proud that some of them are my friends.
“They really deserve to be commended, especially by all the comments we’ve had here tonight.”
According to council papers, the shelter – which sits near Channel View East and Bexhill Sailing Club – is in need of significant and immediate repairs. These repairs alone would be expected to cost the council around £61,000.
While a full restoration would normally be expected to cost more than these repairs, Bexhill Heritage has offered to support the council’s project.
Bexhill Heritage’s contribution to the restoration will be to provide labour through its network of volunteers.
According to the council, the value of the labour contribution is estimated to be around 1,500 hours, equivalent to a value of £31,000 of costs that will be avoided by utilising Bexhill Heritage volunteers.
As a result, the costs of a full restoration would come in at slightly under £60,000 – cheaper than the simple repairs alone.
During the meeting it was agreed that funding for the work should be drawn from Bexhill’s share of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
While the structure was converted into a seaside shelter in 1906, it had originally been built in 1895 as a bandstand.
The restoration would aim to use the same design and colour scheme as when the building was originally built in 1895. It is also planned for a replica iron ridge crest to be commissioned and installed in 2022.
The project was also welcomed by ward councillor Hazel Timpe (Ind), who said: “The very first conversation I ever had with an officer when I was made a councillor 18 months ago was with Joe Powell and it was about the shelters.
“I am absolutely thrilled that he and his team and Bexhill Heritage have come together and are going to put this forward for us as a focal point of our seafront.
“It is in my ward as well but I am also a member of Bexhill Heritage and I am very, very proud of them [and] two people in particular, Steve and Ray, who have worked so hard on this proposal. It is very professional and I think everyone will be thrilled at the value of the hours they are going to give us. It is like a gift.”