Third time lucky for beach huts application?

PUBLISHED: 12:30 01 June 2016

Views of Weston sea front, of North Somerset council's beach huts.

Views of Weston sea front, of North Somerset council's beach huts.

Archant

The council has had to withdraw its latest planning application – intended to rectify the breach of its initial planning permission – for the beach huts on Weston-super-Mare seafront.

This is the third planning application to be submitted to North Somerset Council’s own planning department in relation to the huts after the authority admitted making a blunder in its first application and not installing the right size hut.

The council was granted planning permission for 97 huts but installed 24 last summer at a cost of £60,000.
The council has earned £20,000 from rental income in the first year of leasing out the huts.

Not long after the huts were installed it was discovered they measured 2.1m by 2.6m – larger than the 1.8m by 2.2m agreed by council planners.

The council tried to then enter a minor material amendment to the application – which is used when there need to be changes which are ‘not substantially different’ to the initial application.

But the amendment was also wrong and did not refer to the correct conditions which needed amending.

It said conditions three and four needed altering, but those conditions relate to overnight accommodation and colour, rather than condition two which relates to size.

The council put this mistake down to a typing error.

But Toby Blackburn, who has campaigned against the beach huts, argues the amendment was unlawful – because the amendment had to relate to all 97 huts in the original application, yet if all 97 huts were made the new size they would not fit in the application boundary.

To alter the number of huts, the council had to submit an entirely new application.

Mr Blackburn said: “It seems clear the method they were using was either unlawful or that the proposed changes were impossible to achieve within the boundary of the original application.

“Yet another embarrassment for the council in this long-running saga.”

Since then, the council has since announced it would be putting together a new application for huts.

A North Somerset spokesman said: “The original application was proving quite restrictive in terms of the changes that could be made, so it was agreed that the simplest and clearest way to resolve the outstanding issue was to withdraw the application and submit a new one.

“The new application will have a reduced number of beach huts broadly in line with the numbers which are currently on the seafront, which would not have been possible under an amended application.”

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