Beach Huts FAQ
Our beach huts are one of the key ingredients that help make the BCP region’s coastline so stunning. We have ambitious plans for our beach huts which we will be revealing over the coming months. We have listed some questions and answers below which will help keep you informed regarding our beach huts plans going forward.
I’ve heard you’re selling off all the beach huts?
Beach huts are very much part of the Council’s long-term plan and we do not intend to reduce the overall number of beach huts along the seafront. Our proposal is not to sell beach huts or their sites to the private sector, but to a company which is owned, or majority-owned by the Council. This allows us greater opportunity to think in a more commercial way, especially around how we use our assets to improve both Council services and our wider beach hut estate.
We will be looking to improve the commercial opportunities offered by the beach huts so that we can generate funds to transform our services.
Why are you doing this?
The seafront is so important to our residents and visitors, and we are always looking at ways to achieve investment and improve the facilities. Approximately half of the beach huts are owned by the Council whereas the rest are privately owned huts where the tenant owns the hut and licences/leases the land from the Council. The Council-owned huts are in need of substantial investment and we have been looking at ways of making the most of commercial opportunities offered by the beach huts to support this and other services. While exploring these options the opportunity to raise additional funds to help fund the Council’s transformation ambitions is also being looked at.
When are you doing this?
Improving the commercial opportunities – and raising funds to invest into services – in this way, as opposed to selling council assets to the private sector is innovative and helps to protect the long-term interests of the local residents. It was approved in principle as part of the Council budget setting process in February 2022.
We are planning to present a report to Cabinet for the formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (a company) for the beach huts in the middle of 2022. If successful, the company would be formed towards the end of 2022.
In the meantime, we are already talking to beach hut users and associations to listen to their feedback, answer questions and keep them informed of our progress.
I currently have a beach hut – what changes am I likely to see?
We’re currently exploring options for how this commercial improvement programme would work. However, this plan is for a company which is owned, or majority-owned, by the Council to manage the beach huts. Therefore any changes and improvements which may come in the future will still involve strategic oversight by the Council with operational decisions made by the company directors.
We expect the beach huts to be managed in a very similar way to how they currently operate. The aim of this programme is to explore how we can use our current beach hut portfolio to take a more commercial approach and ensure we can invest in improvements such as additional services and the beach hut estate itself.
Do you plan to change the beach hut rent as part of these plans?
This approach will allow us to look at lots of different options to improve the commercial opportunities offered by beach huts, including rental structures and harmonisation, so that we can invest in improved services. While we’re still in the early stages of planning how to do this, we don’t have any more detail to offer.
Most beach hut rents have increased in line with the growing demand over the years. As that demand remains high it’s likely rents will continue to increase with the market value, whoever runs the service.
Why is the Council looking to raise funds in this way?
As part of our efforts to make Council services fit for the 21st century, we’re undergoing a huge and ambitious transformation programme. This will involve improvements to services and assets across the conurbation – including the beach hut estate.
Undergoing such an ambitious programme, whilst keeping council tax low, requires raising funds. Rather than look to raise funds by selling assets, the Council has been exploring ways to use its existing asset base more commercially, therefore raising funds but protecting assets in the long term for the next generation by maintaining Council oversight and influence on how they are used.
Will beach hut tenants and their associations be involved when plans are drawn up?
Yes. We are currently working through what the options will be around how this improvement programme will look but are already talking to beach hut associations. Although the programme will be unlikely to have any significant effect on beach hut users, we will still be working closely with beach hut users and any associations to get their views, especially around which services they would like to see improved.
What happens if the Council does not choose to proceed with this programme?
Improving the commercial opportunities – and raising funds to invest into services – in this way, as opposed to selling council assets to the private sector, was approved in principle as part of the Council budget setting process in February. However, the final plans will still need full approval by the Cabinet and Council and part of that process will be a full and robust analysis of the business case and value for money. If the Council chooses not to proceed with this programme, then we would need to look carefully at how we will need to update the budget for 2022/23 and review our improvement and investment plans.