Plans to modernise beach hut licences and introduce a transfer fee will help to support the council’s seafront services.
Councillors have agreed to introduce the fee, to be charged when beach huts are sold. The plans will also see beach hut licences updated and streamlined.
The proposals, which follow a consultation with beach hut owners, were agreed by the culture, heritage, sport, tourism and economic development committee at a meeting yesterday (9 November.)
The new licence will be introduced on 1 April next year.
Brighton & Hove’s world-famous seafront stretches from Hove Lagoon to Saltdean Undercliff and is enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors each year. The council is responsible for a range of services ranging from maintenance, repairs and enforcing by-laws, to sea safety and the vital lifeguard service.
The current cost of living crisis has put unprecedented pressure on all council budgets including the Seafront Office.
There are 459 beach huts on Hove seafront, all privately owned by Brighton & Hove residents.
The iconic huts are highly sought after and currently sell for around £30,000. Most of the financial value is due to the prime seafront location but until now, when huts were sold, there was no benefit for the local authority. The new transfer fee will see owners paying the council either 10% of the sale price or 4 times the licence fee, whichever is greater.
The new transfer fee, along with the annual £503.60 licence fee, will go towards maintaining the seafront services.
Neighbouring authorities, including Worthing and Adur Council and Rother District Council introduced transfer fee agreements five years ago and charge similar or greater amounts.
Discussions with beach hut owners about plans for the new licences included a consultation which attracted 145 responses (31.5%.) Councillor Alan Robins, lead councillor for heritage and tourism also met with owners at the Hove Beach Hut Association's annual meeting.
Following feedback from the consultation, several changes have been made to the licences. They include extending the requirement to paint the beach huts from annually to every two years, and a commitment to improve communication between the council and beach hut owners.
The new licence also states that the council can only require the hut owners to remove their huts from council land if the land is being re-developed or for public safety reasons.
This provides more certainty for the beach hut owners than the current arrangements.
Hut owners have also been reassured that they can continue to pass down their beach hut, on the event of their death, to a beneficiary who is a resident of Brighton & Hove without paying the transfer fee.
If huts are transferred to family members (who are Brighton & Hove residents) at any other time, the transfer fee of 4 x the licence fee will apply (this is currently £1,678 based on this year’s licence fee).
Councillor Robins said: “The current cost of living crisis means we have to look at ways we can source income fairly and responsibly to support our services.
“Beach huts are sold for an awful lot of money because of their prime position on Hove seafront and our neighbouring councils have had transfer agreements in place for several years.
“The changes we have agreed will modernise and standardise licences helping us to maintain the seafront, which will benefit all residents and visitors, as well as the beach hut owners.”