Beach huts to be auctioned off next month
PUBLISHED: 10:54 05 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:54 05 January 2015
DOZENS of beach huts for Weston seafront are set to be auctioned off next month as North Somerset Council pushes ahead with 'exciting' plans to enhance tourism in the town and boost its coffers.
Plans to add about 130 huts to the resort have been accelerated as the council looks to have the first ones ready for the Easter holiday rush.
It hopes to auction off 24 in the coming weeks and has earmarked two sites along the seafront for the huts to sit.
Darren Fairchild, the council’s seafront and events manager, believes beach huts will enhance Weston and provide income for the council at a time when the authority needs to make savings.
He said having an auction meant no-one was priced out of the market, and the council would have a better idea of rates for the future.
Mr Fairchild said: “We have had more than 800 interested parties come forward.
“We are mindful we are releasing only 24 (huts) at first so there will be some disappointed people.
“The reality is there will probably be a mixture of prices. We aren’t sure what they are worth so we are getting people to bid on what they think they are worth.”
The council has analysed prices at a number of seaside resorts with annual prices varying hugely from £200 in some places, up to £3,000 in others.
Mr Fairchild said an auction was the best way to ensure everyone has a chance to bid, while making sure the council neither undervalues nor overprices the beach huts.
Two sites have been identified for the huts.
Planning permission for up to 97 is being sought between Royal Sands and halfway to the Tropicana while a further 28 are set for the rockery area opposite the SeaQuarium. There will be a 10 and 14 split respectively from the initial batch of 24 huts.
Marine Lake was considered as a location when the council first announced plans in September but has since been ruled out because of fears there is not enough room.
Five operators have been approached about supplying the council with huts and all offers must be submitted by January 14. Planning permission has yet to be granted although is expected to be passed by council officers in the near future.
Details about when the auction will be and how people will be able to take part will be finalised in the next few weeks. The first huts will be rented out on a 12-month deal, starting April 1.
The council expects after the auction it will be able to set a standard price for people to hire the other huts.
Mr Fairchild added: “We have been cautious so far because we wanted to make sure there is a demand.
“We want people to come back year after year and they will get first option on renewals.”