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Tooth and nail fight for huts

PUBLISHED: 17:15 13 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:05 03 March 2010

BAFFLED beach hut owners cannot understand why they are set to lose their cherished chalets - and say they will fight tooth and nail to keep them.

Around 70 huts - most of them owned by Ipswich families - are to be evicted as part of a major tourist attraction and homes development.

BAFFLED beach hut owners cannot understand why they are set to lose their cherished chalets – and say they will fight tooth and nail to keep them.

Around 70 huts – most of them owned by Ipswich families – are to be evicted as part of a major tourist attraction and homes development.

The huts are the last remaining of 1,000 which used to stand on Felixstowe's south seafront site.

But council chiefs say they must go too as part of the development of the area as their sites will be needed for gardens and walkways.

The huts stand in a row on the seaward-side of the sea wall and each winter suffer a buffeting with several having been lost to the waves over the years.

Jim Butters, former chairman of the now defunct Felixstowe Beach Hut Owners' Association, said it was "disgraceful" and unfair that Suffolk Coastal was to evict the huts, which are now more popular than for many years.

"None of us can understand it and we will fight all the way to keep our sites – there is no reason we can see to take them away," said Mr Butters, of Ipswich.

"The only reason I can think of for shifting them is because they might harm the sea views from the new houses or not look nice. But they will be well below the windows of the houses, and they are part of the seafront scene.

"We are effectively under notice to leave the site and are just waiting for a final date. It is very sad indeed."

Mr Butters, who has had a hut on the site since 1949, said the gaps in the row where huts had been lost or people had already gone were not being filled.

"There has been a beach hut community at that end of Felixstowe for probably 80 years and it brings great benefits to the town – few people visit without spending a quid or two at local shops and kiosks," he said.

"I pay £360 a year for my site and all we get is a water tap shared by all the hut owners. Even so, you would think Suffolk Coastal would be glad of the income.

"I can no longer go down there but my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all go down and have a marvellous time at the hut, and on the beach and in the sea.

"There is still a wonderful community feeling among the hut owners. There is never any arguments or bad language and everyone looks out for each other."

Assistant director of planning and leisure Tony Osmanski told a public meeting that the hut sites would have to go but owners would be kept informed at every step of the way. Officers were looking to see if some of the owners could have their huts moved to other vacant sites elsewhere at the resort.

The conceptual designs for the multi-million pound project have received mixed views. Many people have been outraged at the prospect of 175 homes being built with few new tourist attractions.

The scheme would include a timber galleon, pub-restaurant, ampitheatre, new children's play areas and gardens.

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