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These are the proposals we consulted on in spring 2015.

The background

We manage and maintain 237 beach huts, 20 beach chalets and 241 beach hut sites (with no beach hut provided) along the coast of East Devon. An additional 70 beach hut sites are provided through formal leases with individuals, who then operate them as a business. These 70 sites will not be affected by these proposals.

The two main reasons for these proposals:

  1. Beach huts are currently hired by individuals who then automatically get to rent them every year until they either choose to give them up or pass away.

    Well over 300 individuals are on waiting lists for one of the beach huts, beach chalets and beach hut sites (one person can be on a waiting list for multiple locations). The waiting lists for most are so long that they are now closed to new applicants. We are looking for ways to enable more people to have a chance to lease a beach hut, chalet or beach hut site.  
  2. The funding that we receive from Government to run all our services is reducing, so we need to find better ways to use the assets that we have.

    The beach huts, beach chalets and beach hut sites service is not something we have to provide. However, it is a service that is valued by residents and visitors alike so we would like to keep providing it. Currently some of the costs are absorbed by the local authority (council tax payers). These expenses include the cost to the council of huts rented in Budleigh Salterton and Seaton being dismantled by us, stored over each winter and re-erected each spring. We also pay the non-domestic rates of between £21 and £90 a year for each of the 498 beach huts and beach hut sites. We feel it is reasonable that users of the service pay these costs.

    We have a responsibility to make sure that public money is spent in the best way possible. If we can collect more from this enterprise than it costs us to provide it, we can also improve our beach hut, chalet and beach hut site service. Any surplus funds would be re-invested in other council services.  

Following a detailed review, Councillors have made recommendations about the future of this service. Changes would not take place until 2016, which gives us time to carry out this consultation and give the changes proper consideration.

Our proposals

We want to know how these proposed changes would affect you and if you have any suggestions on how the proposals could be improved. 

Overarching change - applies to all

This change is proposed for all the beach huts, beach hut sites and beach chalets we own and manage. All existing hire agreements for beach huts, beach hut sites and beach chalets would be terminated. Five-year leases for all of these will go to auction on the open market. A lease is a legal contract to rent something for a certain length of time. Everyone will have the chance to bid, including current hirers. The highest bidders will be successful and will be able to rent the beach hut, beach hut site or beach chalet for five years. After this time, another five-year lease for the site will be offered on the open market.

The exception to this is if the current hirer has had their beach hut, site or chalet for four years or less. If this is the case, then they will have the option to sign up for a five-year lease without it going to auction. When their five-year lease ends, another five year lease will be offered on the open market.   

Changes are proposed at each location in addition to the change above  

A. Budleigh Salterton and Seaton West

What currently happens:

  • Seaton West has 31 beach huts that we hire out at £588 per season, plus 50 sites that we hire out without the hut for £293 per season. Huts have to be put up at the start of the season and taken down at the end. 
  • Budleigh Salterton has 49 beach huts that we hire out at between £531 and £588 per season, plus 93 sites we hire out without the huts for £293 per season. Huts have to be put up at the start of the season and taken down at the end. 

Our proposal for what would happen by April 2016:

  • Don’t forget the overarching change as described above under 'our proposals'.
  • We will lease out the sites for the huts but not the huts themselves. It will be up to the person leasing the site to purchase and look after the hut. The person leasing the site will also have to put up the hut at the beginning of the season and take it down and store it at the end of the season. There are contractors that will do this for a charge of up to about £220. Currently, 93 of our beach hut sites in Budleigh Salterton and 50 of our beach hut sites in Seaton West have this arrangement where the site is rented out but not the hut; so it is not a new concept. The colour, design and size of the beach huts will be specified in the lease. People leasing the sites that previously housed beach huts will be given the option of purchasing the hut that is currently allocated to their site for a one-off charge of about £250.
  • Non-domestic rates will be paid by the occupiers of the beach huts rather than by the council. This will be vary from year to year but in 2014/ 2015 was between £21 and £90 for a year.

B. Seaton East and Beer

What currently happens:

  • Seaton East has 42 sites that we hire out without the hut for £293 a season. Huts have to be put up at the start of the season and taken down at the end. 
  • Beer has 56 sites only that we hire out for between £379 and £536. The beach huts on these can stay up all year round.

Our proposal for what would happen by April 2016:

  • Don’t forget the overarching change as mentioned above under 'our proposals'.
  • Non-domestic rates will be paid by the occupiers of the beach huts rather than by the council. This will be vary from year to year but in 2014/ 2015 was between £21 and £90 for the year.

C. Sidmouth

What currently happens:

  • There are 24 beach huts in Sidmouth that we hire out for £625 a season. These beach huts stay in place all year round.

Our proposal for what would happen by April 2016:

  • Don’t forget the overarching change as mentioned above under 'our proposals'.
  • Non domestic rates will be paid by the occupiers of the beach huts rather than by the council. This will be vary from year to year but in 2014/ 2015 was between £21 and £90 for the year.
  • The beach huts at Jacob’s Ladder are reaching the end of their life. We will look to replace them with improved huts of a better style and design for the location, subject to planning permission. There is considerable demand for beach huts in Sidmouth which cannot currently be met. We will also look into the feasibility of providing an additional 10 huts between the end of the Esplanade and Chit Rocks, subject to planning permission, viability assessment and consultation with local residents. 

D. Exmouth beach huts

What currently happens:

  • There are 117 brick built beach huts in Exmouth that we hire out for £663 a season. These beach huts stay in place all year round. These have the lowest level of demand. Some of the existing huts will be removed as part of future seafront developments in Exmouth. For example, 37 huts will be removed due to the Queen’s Drive development scheme, which will bring a watersports centre and other attractions to Exmouth.

Our proposal for what would happen by April 2016:

  • Don’t forget the overarching change as mentioned above under 'our proposals'.
  • Leaseholders will only be responsible for internal repairs and maintenance of the hut. As these are brick built huts we would remain responsible for external repairs and maintenance.
  • Non-domestic rates will be paid by the occupiers of the beach huts rather than by the council. This will be vary from year to year but in 2014/ 2015 was between £21 and £90 for the year.

E. Exmouth chalets

What currently happens:

  • There are 20 brick built larger beach chalets in Exmouth that we hire out for £1,253 a season. They already pay their own non-domestic rates.

Our proposal for what would happen by April 2016:

  • See the overarching change as mentioned above under 'our proposals'. No other changes are proposed for these beach chalets.