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Radical project could create new beach hut sites at resort

PUBLISHED: 16:00 12 April 2020

Some of the 55 huts stranded on Felixstowe prom since losing their beach sites due to erosion Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Some of the 55 huts stranded on Felixstowe prom since losing their beach sites due to erosion Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Archant

Investigations are taking place into a radical solution to create new beach hut sites at Felixstowe – and remove dozens of huts currently stuck on the prom.

Some 55 huts have been standing on the promenade near the Spa Pavilion for the past two years after erosion by the sea of the sandy shore took away the place where they usually stand.

Owners have been warned that this is not a long-term solution and if new sites cannot be found they will lose their huts.

Now sea defence engineers are looking into a way of creating new “sand platforms” on the beach so the huts can return.

The idea has not been used at a UK seaside before and will involve using huge interlocking removable concrete blocks as a wall and then filling the area between the wall and prom with sand.

East Suffolk Council is keen to conduct a trial between two groynes near the Spa in order to assess whether the plan will work.

A report by the council’s engineers said since the erosion in 2018 the sand which disappeared seems to have largely returned, but they cannot be certain that the situation will continue.

“Various solutions have been considered from building timber platforms on the beach to large scale constructions at other sites to create banks of new huts, none which are simple to engineer, and all are relatively costly,” said the research document.

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“While the option to build wooden platforms is also being progressed, these would be a permanent structure on the beach, subject to planning and at initial considerable capital cost, with a maximum 20-year lifespan.

“Seeking other solutions to retaining the sand platform, in such a way that the structure does not impact on the work of coastal management practices was therefore forefront to any solution.

“The most favoured solution is one that has not been used for this purpose in any coastal location in the UK.”

It had been hoped to conduct a trial this summer with one bay between groynes used for a traditional sand platform and the other with the interlocking wall – though neither with huts on at this stage – and to closely monitor what happens for several months.

The report said: “The simplicity of this proposal is that the blocks are a temporary structure and can be easily removed and stored, should works need to take place to the wall; and can be rebuilt or even removed and stored over the winter period if they are moved by the action of the waves.

“The interlocking block option is therefore the most preferred by the council at this stage, but it is felt that it must be tested, prior to huts being put back on the beach.”

Beach hut owners whose huts are currently on the prom have been told that keeping them on the walkway is not a not a long-term solution. Officers have working over the past two years to find a variety of options for a longer-term siting of the huts that would normally occupy this stretch of beach.

The council said: “The affected hut owners have been consulted throughout this process and the council seeks to take their wishes into consideration as much as possible.

“Obviously, hut owners are very concerned and upset about this distressing situation. If all other possibilities fail, the final option to consider is revoking the licences of the hut sites at The Spa and asking owners to remove their huts.”


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