Alterations made to plans for new beach huts on Lowestoft's Jubilee Parade to accommodate disabled people
Changes have been made to the new beach huts which will be available for sale and hire along Lowestoft's Jubilee Parade, amid fears disabled people could be excluded.
Work is currently under way on the £2.6million scheme for striking new beach huts along the Jubilee Parade, replacing old concrete chalets knocked down last year and cliff stabilisation work.
Plans had originally been for the two-tier scheme to feature the 34 ground level huts for short-term hire, while the 38 upper tier huts would all be sold.
However, after representations by the Waveney Disability Forum, that will now be split across both levels so half of the 72 will be sold on both ground and upper tiers, and half let for short term private hire on both ground and upper tiers.
The change is to accommodate those with physical disabilities or difficulties who may not be able to use the stairs for the upper tier.
The council report to cabinet on Tuesday night said: "Following cabinet approval to develop the beach hut scheme, asset management [team] have also consulted more widely with groups such as the Waveney Disability Forum and feedback has shown that the decision to split the scheme on a horizontal axis and sell huts on the upper deck may exclude potential purchasers of huts who are not able to access the huts due for disability reasons."
Craig Rivett, Conservative deputy leader at East Suffolk Council, said there had already been strong interest in buying beach huts there.
"We are trying to be as accommodating as we can and this is where we feel we have got the best approach," he said.
"Thirty-six huts will be for sale and 36 for short term hire.
"Interest in sales has already been notable when the designs reached national attention at the time, and I have already received enquiries as to how and when they can purchase a beach hut.
"Not only do these beach huts provide an important attraction to the beach, they will also provide important capital and revenue receipts to begin to recover the significant costs already invested in the cliff stability."
The huts are due to be completed by March, with work on a new disabled access beach platform due to begin in the spring and be completed in time for the First Light Festival in the summer.
It is not yet clear when the new huts will first be available for hire.
Planning permission was secured in May and work started in September on the new huts, which gained national attention for their striking designs that divided opinion.
Labour group leader Peter Byatt said: "I really welcome this. I have been down there myself and I see things are moving rather nicely, and also it is really useful that the comments from the Waveney Disability Forum have been listened to."