Picture Gallery: Southwold beach hut plans could make thousands for Waveney District Council
Seventeen new beach huts could be added to Southwold's seafront under plans which may make thousands of pounds for the district council.
An application to erect seven huts on North Parade, five on Ferry Road, and five near South Green on the promenade, has been submitted by Waveney District Council to help feed a 'high demand' for the colourful wooden chalets.
But the proposals by the authority have prompted concerns among members of the town council, amid fears that Southwold could miss out on the money they bring in.
The mayor of Southwold, John Windell, said he was keen to see any money made from beach huts coming back into the town and invested in a way that benefited local people.
He said: 'There is the potential to make a million-pound profit from the sale of these beach huts – one alone can be sold for �60,000. Southwold Town Council would expect to have a share of that revenue. Last time we were led to believe we would receive a share but it never happened.'
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He also questioned whether freehold land to some beach huts could be taken on by Southwold Town Council to help pay for town assets they acquire under the Localism Bill.
However, a Waveney spokesman said that, if its plans were approved, the revenue generated could be used to fund capital projects in Southwold such as the �700,000 plan to repair the Ladies Walk clifftop pathway.
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The spokesman added: 'There is a demand in the market because there is a lot of rental that goes on by the people that own them and there are still people buying them. We hope we can address that demand and put something back into the town.'
The sky-high prices of Southwold's beach huts – which can cost about �3,000 to build – has prompted national interest in recent years. Such has been the demand that some have sold for up to �100,000 at Gun Hill, making them more expensive than a small family home in some parts of the country.
During the current financial year, the district council made �95,744 by renting out the land to more than 250 huts in the town.
If approved, the new chalets are likely to be built in phases so the market is not swamped by too many coming up for sale at the same time.
Mr Windell said Southwold Town Council backed Waveney's efforts to hand over responsibility for certain local services. But it was not fair or practical for it to hold onto those that made money, and then expect the town council to take on others that had no financial benefit.
'Our basic policy is that we are all in agreement with the divestment programme and that has always included revenue raising assets,' he said. 'However, I don't think it is a good financial model to take back town assets that don't make money. There needs to be a balance, and when it comes to the beach huts there needs to be some agreement on these.'
Suffolk estate agent Durrants is currently advertising Beach Hut 78 on East Cliff with a hefty price tag of �60,000, which comes with half-glazed double doors, a veranda and built in storage cupboard.
But the quaint white and blue chalet has no access to electricity or running water and costs more per square foot than the average family home – with the additional costs of insurance, annual fees and tax payable to Waveney District Council.
Speaking about the beach hut, Roseanne Green, Durrants' Southwold branch manager, said: 'It's in good condition and has been refurbished but a buyer is really paying for the right to place it in that spot.'
Previous high-profile owners of Southwold beach huts have included Chris Evans, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.