America’s Cup beach huts plan put on hold amid fears for birds

Eastney beach huts
Eastney beach huts
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  • Portsmouth City Council told plan for 75 huts could disturb nests
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PLANS to set up scores of new beach huts along Portsmouth’s seafront in time for the America’s Cup World Series have been dashed.

Portsmouth City Council had made preparations to build 75 new huts for visitors in the spring ahead of the sailing spectacle this summer.

We don’t want to do anything that is detrimental to the environment

Councillor Ben Dowling

It came after the authority’s Tory planning boss, Councillor Luke Stubbs, approved the proposals last year in a bid to meet rising demand and generate extra income.

But the council has now been advised by a Hampshire ecologist – whose identity has not been revealed – that it cannot start the work until next winter as construction could disturb and harm bird nesting sites along the seafront.

And Cllr Stubbs says the council has decided to agree as it wants to act responsibly – but admitted it was ‘disappointing’ the new huts couldn’t be put in well before.

Lib Dem planning spokesman Councillor Ben Dowling, said: ‘It’s sensible we have taken advice as we don’t want to do anything that is detrimental to the environment.

‘But it’s very disappointing they won’t be ready for the America’s Cup as it’s a massive event for the city and the beach huts would have provided an important service during that time.

‘It’s so important we get on with working to improve the seafront, as it is the key to the city’s success.’

The council says no specific species of bird is responsible for the hold-up, and instead the expert advice concerns a variety of animals.

Twenty-five beach huts are to be added to the existing line of huts at Esplanade Gardens.

Another 25 will go near the eastern end of the sea wall which runs from St George’s Road, Southsea, towards Canoe Lake, and the same number are also to be put up in a location to be confirmed.

The council has not ruled out the cost of renting beach huts going up as it seeks to make more money to cope with government funding cutbacks.

An application for 100 new beach huts was submitted in 2013, but plans were put on hold as concerns were raised about the fact they would be 4m high. Assurances have been made the new ones will not be overbearing.

The Tory administration has already pledged to spend £100,000 on improvements to the seafront and lobby for extra external funding.

The Lib Dems meanwhile wanted the council to increase its contribution to around £400,000.

Research is also being carried out into whether the council could introduce holiday homes to generate money.

A potential site could be part of a car park owned by the council near Eastney Cruising Association.