‘Time they were stopped’: Dorset town divided by beach huts extension – ‘What a mess!’

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Dorset locals are fearing restaurant owning firm Avon Beach Ltd is taking over their promenade. A controversial row of beach huts is at the centre of a fierce battle between locals and the firm.

Seemingly every seaside resort has a promenade.

And most of these promenades have beach huts.

In Christchurch, Dorset, the beach huts are causing a lot of fuss.

Restaurant firm Avon Beach Ltd, which runs the classic wooden huts, has extended 37 of the huts by 6ft in length.

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While this would not be particularly remarkable in and of itself, the extension was done without asking for the council permission.

The company asked for permission after the work was already done.

They also asked permission to extend another 41 huts.

The application had 99 letters of objection.

However, 110 people also supported the plan, with tourists using the huts part of this group.

Some of the 110 people supporting the extension lived as far away as London, Essex, Kent and Leicestershire.

The retrospective planning permission was denied by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.

But of course, some of the huts were already extended, reducing access to the promenade and creating obstructions for locals.

Christchurch residents were vocal against the new extensions.

On the local newspaper website, one user said: “A law unto themselves. Time they were stopped in their tracks before they ruin the place.”

And another added: “It’s about time some of their planning applications were refused. What a mess they have made of that part of the beach! I wish the old cafe was still there.”

Michael Smith, a local resident, said: “This retrospective application is the 21st planning application made by the tenants in the last eight years.

“Several of the applications including this one have been retrospective, indicating a complete disregard for the rules of the lease and the feelings of local residents…

“My main concern is the 75 percent size increase that totally uses the additional promenade width that was paid for out of public funds (our tax) to inflate the profits of the applicant. This cannot be allowed to be upheld.”

Another local, Sophie Morris, said: “I object most strongly to the increase in size of any of the beach huts.

“The promenade in Avon beach is extremely busy and crowded in the summer.

‘It simply does not make sense to significantly increase the size of the beach huts to benefit one sole trader at the inconvenience of everyone else – people who pay council tax which goes towards paying for this public land.”

The situation has escalated, with the Council now launching an enforcement investigation due to “potential breach of planning control”.

A spokesperson for the Council said: “The council is aware a number of the beach huts are unauthorised and there is an open enforcement investigation into this matter.

“The council will need to determine what action is appropriate to take in light of a potential breach of planning control.”

Avon Beach Ltd plans on submitting another application.

A spokesperson said: “We are currently in the process of resubmitting the beach hut planning application and are working closely with the planning department at BCP Council.”
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