Council still open to new ideas to keep beach huts on resort's seafront

Campaigners for Felixstowe beach huts demonstrating outside East Suffolk Council in Lowestoft.

Campaigners for Felixstowe beach huts demonstrating outside East Suffolk Council's Riverside offices in Lowestoft. - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

Community leaders say they are still open to mediation to find a solution to Felixstowe’s promenade beach huts problem, but campaigners have been left angered at the lack of progress.

Forty-four beach huts currently sit on the prom near the Spa Pavilion – a temporary location since 2018 when beach erosion meant they couldn’t stay on the sand despite its historic status as one of the UK’s first beach hut locations, dating back to the 1890s.

New homes have been found for 30 of them, leaving 14 without a site. Licences for all 44 have been terminated.

The beach huts on the prom in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS

The beach huts on the promenade in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

East Suffolk Council debated the current situation after receiving an online petition of more than 4,180 signatures.

The authority voted to acknowledge the disappointment at no viable solutions being found to put the huts back on the beach, but said it was open to mediation to try to find fresh ideas for solutions.

Representatives on behalf of the beach hut owners who demonstrated outside the meeting said it was “an absolute disgrace” and came out feeling like they “had not been listened to”.

TV personality and conservation campaigner Griff Rhys Jones tweeted his "utter astonishment" that the council were continuing to pursue the removal of the huts despite heritage advice not to from three separate national bodies.

Felixstowe beach hut owner Ruth Dugdall-Marshall

Felixstowe beach hut owner Ruth Dugdall-Marshall - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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Ruth Dugdall, author and campaigner said: “The history was not mentioned, the conservation was not mentioned – there were things that were said in that room that implied it was just about 44 beach hut owners, or the 14 huts that don’t have homes – totally missing the fact we are there for 4,000 people who signed the petition.

“The reason we are in the media now is because people care about those beach huts.”

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant

East Suffolk Council leader Steve Gallant - Credit: East Suffolk Council

Steve Gallant, council leader and a Felixstowe ward councillor, said the huts could not stay on the promenade as it is a designated highway and there is no planning permission allowing them to be there.

“The last thing I want is to disappoint anybody, that’s the reality of it. But we are where we are,” he said.

“We have done four years of this and we have got to the end of the road.

“I absolutely welcome and support the heritage that beach huts bring but we need to do that in a way that  is not going to impact on the amenity of the wider population.”

The plaque on Felixstowe beach huts. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS

The plaque on Felixstowe beach huts. Picture: JASON NOBLE LDRS - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

Mr Gallant said the huts were having a detrimental effect on other prom users.

Campaigners are continuing to pursue a judicial review lodged at the start of the month.