PLANS to put beach huts in front of a sea wall, just yards from the site of severe storm damage, have been branded “ludicrous”.
A lack of consultation, coupled with fears about the location of the huts in front of the Gundimore promenade in Mudeford, has led to questions from residents, calling on Christchurch council to go back to the drawing board.
In February, at least 50 of the 120 beach huts at Avon Beach in Mudeford were destroyed by the Valentine’s Day storms.
In Bournemouth, more than 400 huts were damaged with 30 completely destroyed, including the wedding hut at Bournemouth seafront.
Highcliffe resident Bob Hutchings, who owns a lodge at Sandhills caravan park, behind where the huts will stand, said he wrote to Christchurch council’s chief executive David McIntosh around three weeks ago to say it was an awful risk.
He had a letter back saying at that time a final decision had not been taken.
When the Daily Echo asked the council to clarify their plans for proposed beach huts at Gundimore and Friars Cliff at the end of February, the council said they were still reviewing future provision of beach huts.
The work on the beach huts, which will stand between Mudeford Quay and Avon Beach, began yesterday.
It will cost the council £25,000 to build the 11 huts.
But by selling them for around £17,500 each over four years, they expect to make around £167,500 to finance future schemes.
Annual licence fees payable to the council will cost around £617 including VAT.
Mr Hutchings added: “Had they built them a month ago, they wouldn’t be there now. It’s a ludicrous idea. Putting beach huts even nearer the sea just beggars belief.”
Mudeford resident Keith Williamson said: “Where have they been living the last two months? You have only got to look at your photo of the destruction and it’s obvious.
“I would have thought they would put a hold on it.”
The Gundimore beach huts were a contingency plan should proposed huts at Friars Cliff not be built in time for this season.
A previous report, which proposed the use of Gundimore beach, said the location of the huts – on the existing hard standing area to the west of the ‘knuckle’ in the sea wall – would be adjusted to minimise their visibility to the public and Sandhills caravan park users. It also said the site was “acceptable” under the council’s new zoning policy.
n Last month, leader of Christ-church council, Cllr Ray Nottage said the cost of the storm damage could reach as much as £2million.
At a meeting of the full council he said the storm did huge damage to the Christchurch coastline.
The Army were called in to help clear debris from beach huts wrecked by the storm.
Neil Farmer, Strategic Director at Christchurch Council said: “Following the recent storms, an internal review of the original decision to build new beach huts at Gundimore was undertaken.
"Given that the damage to huts at Avon Beach was very localised and was caused by such unprecedented and extreme conditions, the council has decided to go ahead with erecting 11 new huts at Gundimore.
"These huts are being built in advance of the proposed new huts at Friars Cliff.
"The Friars Cliff huts are still being proposed, however the council remains in discussion with the Ministry of Defence regarding these. Gundimore was identified as a reserve site in case of delays.”