Indefinite beach chalet leases to be scrapped across Brighton and Hove

Open-ended leases on beach chalets will end after Labour and Conservative councillors joined forces to push through a rule change.

Would-be tenants who have spent years on the waiting list for one of the chalets – in Saltdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Madeira Drive and Hove – lobbied councillors.

And a joint proposal was put forward by Labour councillor Amanda Evans and Conservative Robert Nemeth at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting yesterday (Thursday 14 January).

As a result, indefinite leases will end as members of the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee voted by six to four to phase them out over eight years, once the coronavirus lockdown had ended.

Beach chalets have been restricted to Brighton and Hove residents since 2011 when a fixed five-year term was also brought in.

Councillor Evans said that 70 per cent of those who responded to a council survey on beach huts and chalets wanted indefinite leases ended within five years, with 22 per cent saying that they should end within a year.

Councillor Evans said: “There’s obviously no appetite among the general population, who have expressed an interest, in having indefinite leases and we should be looking to phase them out.

“We also think it would be a lovely idea to have one or more available for short-term community lettings.”

Councillor Nemeth said that he was concerned to hear the comments from leaseholders who had waited a long time for their huts and those still on the waiting list.

He said: “The underlying issue here is of course that there is a limited resource – rental chalets – which the council has responsibility for managing, and the current levels of supply and demand are so out of sync that intervention has become logical.

“The first sensible action would be to increase supply. If the number of chalets, say, could be doubled, the waiting list may well be satisfied.”

Green councillor Marianna Ebel opposed bringing long-term tenancies to an end because they had been entered into in “good faith”.

Councillor Marianna Ebel

She said: “If you compare that with garages, we wouldn’t take away a garage after five years just because there are more people wanting a garage than there are garages.

“Some people have bought small flats without an outdoor space because they thought for the rest of their life they would have a beach chalet for their outdoor space. They are understandably upset.”

Former Brighton and Hove City Council deputy leader Sue John, who now chairs Rottingdean Parish Council, asked for a review of the proposed changes in 18 months, to see if they had made a difference to the long waiting list.

Saltdean resident David Wilson told councillors that 17 of the 20 indefinitely leased chalets there were underused.

He said: “As someone who walks down to the undercliff probably twice a day with my dogs in rain and sunshine, I know how much they are not used.”

Former councillor Mo Marsh wanted lease extensions for those who had applied for a beach chalet when only indefinite leases were available but who had since been granted just a five-year lease.

Councillor Mo Marsh

The former mayor told the committee that she spent 14 years on the waiting list for her chalet, and her neighbour in Madeira Drive waited for 19 years.

She said: “There are certain chalets where you never see anybody there. I do think that is an issue considering there is such a need.

“There are lots of people who would like to be using chalets but can’t.

“It is important that everyone who has a licence uses the chalet, keeps paying their rentals and maintains the chalet to the conditions it should be.”

Green councillor Steph Powell, who chairs the committee, said that extending the leases would not be possible.

Councillors unanimously agreed to end any leases with people living outside Brighton and Hove as soon as possible.

The committee also agreed to carry out annual checks to ensure that all chalets were maintained.

  1. roy pennington Reply

    full decision is SUBJECT TO .. LEGAL ..ect:
    RESOLVED – That Committee:
    1. (subject to further consideration of the legal, financial and practical
    implications of the proposal in a future report) indefinite agreements for
    beach chalets should be phased out over a period of 8 years starting from
    the lifting of lockdown restrictions and all future agreements will be as per
    the fixed term agreements.
    2. Approves bringing indefinite agreements to an end as soon as is practically
    possible for beach chalets for those that do not reside in Brighton & Hove in
    accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence agreement.
    3. Agrees that annual checks are carried out to ensure that all existing and
    future fixed-term licence agreements remain with residents of Brighton &
    4. Agrees for a further report to identify locations for to be the provision of
    additional beach chalets and beach huts along the seafront including less
    well visited parts to help regenerate those areas, in particular the area east
    of the Palace Pier.
    5. Agrees the report also explores options to finance the building of additional
    beach chalets or beach huts to rent or to purchase.
    6. Agrees the report also identifies how beach huts and chalet income east of
    the Palace Pier could support additional borrowing and regeneration of
    Madeira Terraces and contribute to the wider area’s regeneration and
    7. Agrees the report considers retaining one or more beach chalets in future,
    from either existing stock freed up by new lease arrangements or new stock,
    as short term lets for community event use.

  2. Janice Reply

    Terminating the leases of life-time tenancies of brick built beach huts is wrong. What is to stop the Council deciding to terminate the leases of wooden beach huts after 8 years? The huts may be owned, but the plot is leased from the Council. Surely all wooden and brick built beach hut owners should oppose this change.

  3. Sally Kemp Reply

    I would be very keen to learn how I may be added to the Beach Hut wait list, having been a Rottingdean Resident since Jan 2000, I have so far failed to even get on to the wait list,that’s a 20 Yr wait to get on the list!! as every year I have tried to apply I have been told the wait list is closed!!

    • Greens Out Reply

      In Rottingdean? 20 years? You’re still a newcommer!

      Another 20 and you might be accepted onto the list.

  4. D. Wood Reply

    As a child l remember beachhuts were rented out for holiday makers for their annual holidays. I thought this was what they were built for in the first place & not for buying. Can it please go back to its original purpose & not as a money-spinner for just a few?

  5. flaneur, beach Reply

    the spinner-money is the Council lease-holder = there are NO arrears of long-holders tenants rents for the 35% approx leasers; and for the 65% fixed-term tenants, some may be in arrears and there may be vacancies (i.e. voids) with no rent at all … but the councillors did not have any idea about that, as there was no mention for that in the report and thus the cllrs made a decision on thin-facts/empty-facts/fake-facts: the only mention was “officer time” e.g. to see if the tentant is still lives (or is dead) in B&H.

  6. real flaneur Reply

    As some could say;
    Perhaps LAB/TORY CLLRS have a go at Allotment Holders –
    “Come along now you’ve planted enough vegetables – time to give someone else a go with the turnips.”.

    Or people with garages?
    “Remove your car please, you’ve been here a few years. Somebody else needs it now. Please drive away!”

    Perhaps such would like to start rationing leisure facilities as well?
    “Two tickets for the swimming? Certainly Madam.”
    Oh sorry – I see you have been before!
    You’ve already used the pool.
    Do apologise – but you see others are waiting”

    And finally I’m sure Lab/Tories would be more than happy to help start displacing tenants in social housing.
    “I know it seems harsh to evict you and the children but there are 13,000 people waiting for this house, and 5,000 of them have been waiting more than five years. Come along now and get your furniture on the pavement!”

    Crude, irrational and unfair comparisons but nowhere near as crude, irrational and unfair as the logic those cllrs applied.

  7. Martha Gunn Reply

    And now it seems the Labour Party is perfectly happy with permanent leases for privately-owned beach huts but NOT for publicly-owned rented ones. More crude, irrational and unfair logic from Councillor Evans.
    And when did the Labour Party change its policy?
    The motion from Councillor Platts stating Labour policy (actually printed for all to read in the agenda for this meeting!) made no mention of terminating leases and evicting the tenants.
    Not a word about it!
    Councillor Evans made a screeching and unannounced U turn.
    When did the Labour Party agree to unite with the Tories and perform this volte-face?
    Why wasn’t this flagrant and glaring change of policy made public beforehand?
    This is a very shabby and shameful move from the Labour Party which needs reversing immediately.

  8. roy pennington Reply

    Martha Gunn (1726–1815) would have been turning in her grave to be seeing this stitch-up = she was a dipper, the chalet tenants here and now rather are “static dippers” BUT without the right to “rent out” the chalets unless they are “friends” without payment….no chance even of a Freecycle Network either = the beach has been carved out for money for years (see Black Rock years ago or Sea Lane now or tables outside cafes on the beach…) = only the Green Party members seem to understand true and equity.

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