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Formal legal challenge lodged over Felixstowe beach huts row as owners put up blue plaques



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Campaigners fighting to keep beach huts near Felixstowe's Spa Pavilion have lodged a formal legal challenge to East Suffolk Council over its handling of the issue.

And hut owners have stuck blue plaque-style badges on many of the huts to showcase the location's heritage as one of the UK's first spots for static beach huts dating back to 1885.

The council placed 44 huts on the promenade near the theatre several years ago, after beach erosion meant they couldn't stay on the beach itself.

The beach huts on the promenade in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS
The beach huts on the promenade in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS

The council secured new locations for all but 14, but terminated the licences for all 44 huts.

Campaigners say the licences should not have been terminated before the planning committee meeting in March - where two applications for new locations were approved and two were rejected - had decided its outcome.

Now, legal papers have been served to East Suffolk Council calling for a judicial review.

The beach huts on the promenade in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS
The beach huts on the promenade in Felixstowe close to the Spa Pavilion. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS

Julie Downton, secretary of the Felixstowe Beach Hut and Chalet Association, said: “The legal challenge is asking for a judicial review of the decision.

"What we would really like is to go into mediation as a way of trying to make sure 14 people don’t lose a hut, because there are only 30 spaces elsewhere to go.

“The other fact is the historic side of the Spa location being the first beach huts in England to become static.

"Why would Felixstowe want to lose part of its history allowing huts to move from this location?”

The association said there had been no evidence for them to understand the decision as to why other options weren’t possible.

“The ideal solution I would love to achieve is for them to go back on platforms and move to the prom every winter, which they have done every year since 1945. That would be the easiest solution," Ms Downton added.

More than 3,800 people have signed a petition for beach huts to stay, securing a full council debate at the end of the month on the issue.

Suffolk-based actor and comedian Griff Rhys Jones has also lent his voice to the cause, writing on social media: "The huts are an integral and historic part of the effect.

"I beg the council to shelve this proposition, heed the petition, and take seriously the advice of Dr Ferry and the Victorian Society and many others who have noted the excellence of these charming beach huts."

In addition, one of the hut owners has designed a blue plaque-style badge highlighting the beach's history of static beach huts since 1885 - believed to be the first in the UK.

The plaque on Felixstowe beach huts. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS
The plaque on Felixstowe beach huts. Picture: Jason Noble LDRS

Ms Downton said: "There are a lot of local people and there are a lot of visitors who don't understand the history of the huts in this location, so it's highlighting that which we want to do."

A spokesman for East Suffolk Council said: "East Suffolk Council received notification that legal proceedings have been issued on behalf of beach hut owners in Felixstowe at the end of last week.

“We will be writing to acknowledge service of this notification shortly. It would not be appropriate to comment any further while our consideration is pending.

“The council has sought new locations for the beach huts at the Spa Pavilion site, in regular consultation with FBHCA, and has thoroughly explored all reasonable options, including beach platforms.

“There is no safe option for their return to the beach, and the temporary solution, which impacts on other users of the promenade, is not a viable permanent option.”

The council has 21 days to respond to the papers. The council will discuss the matter on May 25.