Owners in battle over beach huts

WE will fight them on the beaches!That was the cry today from Ipswich's angry beach hut owners who are planning to wage war to keep their seaside chalets on Felixstowe seafront.

WE will fight them on the beaches!

That was the cry today from Ipswich's angry beach hut owners who are planning to wage war to keep their seaside chalets on Felixstowe seafront.

Fifty-eight hut owners – most from Ipswich – have been told they will be evicted next spring as part of a project for a multi-million pound housing development with some leisure facilities.

But the hut owners cannot understand why they are being kicked off the site – and believe it is simply so their huts do not spoil the seaview of the new homes.

The council, meanwhile, plans to replace the huts with seashore plants.

Now the owners are taking legal advice, setting up a public meeting, and talking to Ipswich MP Chris Mole as they start their campaign – which is being backed by The Evening Star – to stay put.

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"There is no good reason why the council should move our huts, which provide pleasure to dozens of families and have been part of the traditional seaside scene on that site for more than 70 years," said campaign leader Jim Butters. Mr Butters has owned a hut on the seafront for 65 years.

"I believe Suffolk Coastal simply wants to provide a nice seaview for the people who will live in the houses – although the properties will probably have to be built on stilts to avoid flooding and should see over the huts anyway.

"It is ridiculous that they should do this – taking away an amenity for many people to replace it with a few plants.

"They cannot build on our strip of shingle and whatever they put there will be ruined by the sea when the winter storms arrive and the waves wash across there – we know it will happen because we have seen the damage done to the huts."

The row of huts stand on the seaward side of the sea wall in front of Manor Terrace and the council plans to replace it with coastal grasses.

"I don't think what the council is saying is good enough and I think we have good grounds to fight them in this issue and make them change their mind," said Mr Butters, 89, of Montgomery Road, Ipswich.

He has been refused access by the council to the names of the other hut owners and is appealing for them to contact him on 01473 686616.

In the mid-1980s the Manor End was home to 1,000 huts, but despite a campaign the majority were evicted to make way for other schemes on the 17-acre south seafront, all of which failed to come to fruition.

David Smith, project cabinet member, said many people would have fond memories of the hut site and be disappointed, but the development would regenerate Felixstowe as a resort.

"We have tried to give as much advance notice as possible, and the redevelopment of this site has been a goal for many years, so I do not think anyone can be surprised that it may now become a reality," he said.

Weblink: www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk