Millions of pounds worth of huts could be left empty in Bournemouth
Millions of pounds worth of beach huts could be left lying empty on Bournemouth sea front, locals fear: Tenants say they will be forced to give up cabins to wealthy second-home owners over council plans to double rent
- Bournemouth locals are giving up much-loved beach huts due to a spike in rent
- It is feared rich out-of-towners will snap them up, leaving many huts empty
- ‘Hutters’ fought in vain to persuade the council to reconsider the huge hikes
Millions of pounds worth of beach huts will be left empty by rich out-of-towners as huge rent hikes force locals to give them up, it is feared.
Thousands of beach hut tenants are having their rent almost doubled overnight by a cash-strapped council said to be on the brink of bankruptcy.
‘Hutters’ have fought in vain to get the local authority in Bournemouth, Dorset, to reconsider the huge hikes.
They say many tenants won’t be able to afford to keep their huts which will instead be snapped up by wealthy second home owners from London and the Home Counties.
And because they aren’t local they are likely to only visit the area a few times a year, leaving the huts empty most of the time and ‘destroying the close-knit community of hut owners.’
Millions of pounds worth of beach huts will be left empty by rich out-of-towners as huge rent hikes force locals to give them up, it is feared
Bob Lister, chairman of the Poole Beach Hut Association, said: ‘There’s 1,194 council-owned huts in Poole, so we are being hit harder in terms of the number of tenants that are affected’
There are also concerns these out of towners could sub-let their huts like Airbnb when they are not there.
Under the new pricing scheme, tenants who currently pay £1,300 a year in rent will have to fork out £2,200 by 2027 and others who pay £770 will face an increase of £1,000 over the next five years.
The year-on-year rises would bring in an extra £10m a year for Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council.
Hutters say they are being used by the council as a ‘cash cow’ and with the cost of living crisis.
They feel the council think they must be wealthy because they can afford a beach hut, but many are pensioners who cannot afford a holiday abroad.
Bob Lister, chairman of the Poole Beach Hut Association, said: ‘There’s 1,194 council-owned huts in Poole, so we are being hit harder in terms of the number of tenants that are affected.
‘The council use the word harmonisation to describe this scheme, but there’s no real harmonisation – they’re just using us as cash cows.
‘They’ve said they won’t allow anybody to rent the property from outside the area but we know beach huts are used by people who live elsewhere and have a holiday home here.
Protestors recently campaigned against the rises on their beach huts
Beach hut tenants have expressed fears that millions of pounds worth of seaside huts will be left empty by affluent out of towners
READ MORE: HUTTERS TELL COUNCIL TO ‘SELL OFF’ UNUSED OFFICE BUILDINGS
‘They have no way of challenging if that’s someone’s primary address. I think they will be left empty by people who live in London and just come down for a weekend.
‘There’s one near me that hasn’t been used since August.
‘Instead of locals who maybe live in a flat with no garden – the beach hut is their holiday. They are being priced out of the market.
‘Many of our members are pensioners on fixed incomes and they won’t be able to afford these increases. These are people who can’t afford to go abroad and the beach hut is their holiday – what the council is doing is penalising them.
‘More will be bought up by out of towners, it will destroy the community.’
Bournemouth Beach Hut Association chair Ann Gerrard said: ‘We worked very hard on this but all the suggestions put forward were totally swept to one side. We are not happy.
Hutters say they are being used by the council as a ‘cash cow’ and with the cost of living crisis
READ MORE: DORSET LOCALS SLAM FIRM AS IT LENGTHENS PROMENADE
‘We put forward ideas to cap the increase at ten per cent this year, mainly because of cost-of-living issues.
‘There’s going to be more sub-letting now because people can’t afford them, it’s going to be a very uncomfortable process.’
There are almost 4,000 beach huts across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and up until now tenants have paid varying amounts in annual rents, ranging from £770 to £5,000.
A BCP council spokesman said: ‘In line with our work to harmonise all council services, these plans will see a simple pricing system put in place across the region and will give greater choice for residents wishing to access a beach hut in the future.
‘They also ensure we only allow residents of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to join waiting lists to hire our beach huts – a rule which previously did not exist.
‘Until now there has been a substantial difference in beach hut pricing across BCP which needs addressing to ensure fairness across the three towns, but we recognise these plans need to be introduced over time to reduce that immediate impact and give people the opportunity to plan ahead.
‘Our beach huts have had under investment for a number of years, and these plans will mean around £4.4million of much needed investment goes into our beach huts and their services. This will also include the investment and upgrade of public toilet facilities along the seafront.’
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