This report seeks to set out a viable business case for the installation of additional beach huts within Littlehampton. Consent is also sought to proceed to submission of a suitable planning application and to procure the manufacture and installation of beach huts on site. This will ensure the Council secures additional leaseholders and increase service revenue, working towards meeting the known customer demand for access to this popular seaside service.
The Committee received a report from the Property, Estates and Facilities Manager setting out a business case for the installation of additional beach huts within Littlehampton. Details surrounding the extensive consultation undertaken as part of this exercise were explained together with the financial details and implications.
The report set out the background to this project reminding members that at its meeting held on 12 October 2021, the Committee in considering the beach hut review had instructed officers to proceed to review and bring back to it proposals for the siting of additional beach huts at the earliest opportunity. This was that report. Prior to that, the Council had previously submitted a planning application for the siting of an additional 20 huts in March 2021, on the seafront in Littlehampton, but the Committee had voted against the planning officer’s recommendation to approve that application on the grounds that the application contained a lack of accessibility detail and that the development would affect the visual amenities of the locality in conflict with planning policies.
To address the past planning application refusal the report recommended to reduce the number of planned beach huts to install from 20 down to 17. It was further proposed to relocate the bank of 10 beach huts proposed on the western end of the existing run of beach huts to the eastern end. Having consulted with the council’s coastal engineers on this proposal it had been confirmed that the shingle in the eastern location was unstable and was not considered to be a viable option due to the risk of sea damage.
It was confirmed that a further report would be brought to the committee in the next twelve months outlining further beach hut provision options and how accessibility needs would be addressed.
The Committee was being asked to approve proceeding with the procurement and installation of 17 new composite beach huts in locations set out in Appendix 1 to the report. Consent was also sought to proceed to submission of a suitable planning application and to procure the manufacture and installation of beach huts on site. This would ensure that the council secured additional leaseholds and increased service revenue, working towards meeting the known customer demand for the area.
Having received the officer’s presentation, a lengthy debate then took place and varied questions were asked by members.
Concerns were again raised on the location of the beach huts and why these additional huts could not be located elsewhere in the district. It was felt that the proposed location was already at full capacity with beach huts. Members confirmed that they were unhappy with the proposals for several reasons. Firstly, they had been told that it was impossible to have more beach huts towards the eastern end due to unstable shingle, however the western end of the beach which was stable had not been considered. To place 7-8 huts there would be preferable. Another major issue of concern was that the proposals did not include plans to make the huts wheelchair friendly and disabled access was vital as the council needed to be compliant with disability legislations. These views were agreed by the Committee.
Following further discussion, Councillor Walsh proposed an amendment that disabled access be included within the recommendation.
In response, the Property, Estates & Facilities Manager explained how turning the huts into huts with disabled access would cause countless other issues. Reassurance was provided in that work which was underway for all future huts to be installed in other locations would have disabled access included. In response, various Councillors spoke in support for these huts to have disabled access and that this was a need in great and continuing demand. The committee firmly insisted that all new huts should now in the future be built considering all accessibility and sustainability standards.
The Director of Place then drew Members’ attention to the map on page 73 of the agenda, highlighting that if members wanted to see some of these units delivered as accessible, it would be easier to achieve this where there could be a block of new accessible huts. The sacrifice might be that instead of providing 7 huts at this location it may need to reduce to 5 due to changes in design and logistics. The costs as set out in the report, would also be expected to change. The Committee was asked if it wanted to Officers to take this change away to work on prior to a planning application being submitted? It was added that the new location highlighted, was also in close proximity to the car park, public conveniences and another café, which were positives.
discussion, Councillor Walsh then proposed an amendment to
Recommendation 1 which was seconded by Councillor
Staniforth. The amendment is set out
below with additions shown in bold and deletions shown using
(1) Approves proceeding with the procurement and installation of up to 17, on the new composite beach huts including supporting bases in the locations set out at Appendix 1 of this report, subject to the provision of all beach huts in the most western new block being of an accessible design.
The Chair then invited debate on this amendment which saw widespread support but a keenness from members to ensure that there would be no further delay in moving this project forward. Having asked further questions on the likely design of accessible beach huts and costings, it was explained that they were a bespoke design. This change would require a new design, and this would impact the lead in time with members having to accept that another planning application would also have to be submitted. This would impact the delivery of the project, but the full extent of delay would not be known until discussions had been had with the manufacturers.
A recorded vote had been requested. Those voting for the amendment were Councillors Mrs Cooper, Cooper, Dixon, Edwards, Northeast, Roberts, Staniforth, Stanley, Walsh and Yeates (10). Councillor Seex abstained from voting.
The amendment was therefore declared as CARRIED.
The Chair then returned to the substantive recommendations which were proposed by Councillor Cooper and were seconded by Councillor Staniforth.
A recorded vote had been requested. This applied to all three recommendations which were taken on block. Those voting for all three recommendations were Mrs Cooper, Cooper, Dixon, Edwards, Northeast, Roberts, Staniforth, Stanley, Walsh. (9). Councillor Seex voted against the recommendations.
The Committee, therefore
RESOLVED - That
(1) It approves proceeding with the procurement and installation of up to 17 new composite beach huts including supporting bases in the locations set out at Appendix 1 of this report subject to the provision of all beach huts in the most western new block being of an accessible design;
(2) Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Technical Services, to enter into contract for the supply and installation of composite beach huts with the most economically advantageous contractor following the procurement exercise; and
(3) Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Technical Services to submit any necessary planning application(s) for the purpose of installing additional beach huts in Littlehampton.