Plans for 100 new beach huts pulled after complaints

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PLANS for 100 new beach huts have been withdrawn after the city council admitted it should have let people have their say.

The move was put on hold after Portsmouth’s Lib Dem administration came under fire for pushing ahead despite its draft Seafront Masterplan not having been approved.

A public consultation into the document is still going on and it also needs to be voted through by the full council.

The beach hut scheme, which was illustrated in the masterplan with artists’ impressions, would see new huts and a timber boardwalk built along Eastney Esplanade.

This led some local people to ask if the proposals included in the draft document, which was unveiled in July, are a foregone conclusion regardless of what residents and councillors say.

Now seafront manager David Evans has said even though the beach hut plan was already approved separately, the council would withdraw its planning application until after the vote and consultation.

He said: ‘We have been talking about it for quite some time.

‘The funding was approved by the council earlier this year, because we have more than 200 people on that waiting list.

‘It takes years for people to get a beach hut.

‘We currently have 110, which is a small amount when you consider the seafront we have got. In Brighton they have more than 800, though we’re obviously not suggesting having that many.

‘But like everything else timing is essential with these things.

‘We should have waited until the consultation process had finished.

‘We wanted to get them up and running but we will resubmit the application after the consultation has ended and the plans have been approved by council.’

In a letter to the council local residents John and Valerie Woods wrote: ‘This application should not be allowed to go forward, as it is jumping the gun on the seafront masterplan which has not yet been approved by the full council and which residents were invited to spend time attending presentations on and then submitting their views.

‘At the presentation, all the panellists repeatedly emphasised that ‘nothing was set in stone’ and the purpose of the masterplan was to get people’s views and comments before finalising it.’

Committee member of the East Southsea Neighbourhood Forum, Leon Reis, agreed and said: ‘This should not have been submitted for planning consent while the consultation is supposed to be taking people’s views into account.’