Creator of Martha Gunn-style beach hut trailer told it has to go

Posted On 29 Apr 2021 at 10:07 am

The beach hut trailer in Lower Rock gardens


A man who built a beach hut trailer inspired by Martha Gunn has been told he has to remove it after complaints.

Paul’s lockdown project took shape over last summer on his drive in Lower Rock Gardens – but by June, he had put up a sign saying he was halting work because of complaints.

This month, Brighton and Hove City Council has served a planning enforcement notice on him, saying it regards it as an unauthorised outbuilding and requiring him to move it by June 10 this year.

Paul, who asked for his last name to be witheld, said that passers by would often stop him and ask about the project as it was taking shape.

He said: “The intention was never to keep it permanently on the site. I made it on a trailer so it could be moved to another site where it would be used as a glamping wagon.

“Sort of like a shepherd’s hut, but with a distinctly Brighton twist. So, I modelled it on the wheeled bathing huts that used to operate on Brighton beach during Georgian times, for which Martha Gun became famous.

“Many people would walk down Lower Rock Gardens to the beach as part of their daily exercise. And, during these times when many people were anxious, and every day seemed to be the same, they enjoyed seeing something new being created.

“Literally hundreds of people stopped to enquire and have a brief, socially distanced chat about progress.”

He says he has told the council that as it’s a mobile object, it should not require planning permission, in the same way a large ugly trailer or derelict caravan parked on the drive wouldn’t.

In the meantime, he’s looking for a site where he can relocate it to, and is planning to appeal the notice. But he fears if both those fail, he may have to destroy it.

He added: “The council in its enforcement notice says the structure has ’caused significant harm to the character of the streetscene and to East Cliff Conservation Area. I disagree entirely. In my view this is not some grand square in Hove. This is Kemp Town.

“I believe that the beach hut perfectly reflects the diverse, vibrant, resilient community we have here, and the amazing, colourful, cheerful people who live in the street and beyond.”

A council spokesman said: “The matter was brought to the attention of our planning enforcement team in May 2020. We did make contact with parties with a material interest in the land prior to serving the notice and took into account responses received.”

The enforcement notice says: “It is considered expedient to issue the notice because the timber outbuilding, by reason of its scale, form, positioning and materials, is an incongruous addition in a prominent location, which has caused significant harm to the character and appearance of the property, the wide streetscene and East Cliff Conservation Area.”

The notice comes into effect on 10 May unless Paul appeals, which costs £924.

  1. Lynda Morrison Reply

    How can anyone complain about such a beautifully made item? It would be considered an asset anywhere else. Have this gentleman’s neighbours nothing better to do with their time but complain? I am sure that if it were put up for sale it would command a very high price and be snapped up immediately. Why aren’t the local council stepping in to find a suitable place to display it?

  2. Carol Homewood Reply

    It looks great. I’d love to see more. Also wouldn’t it be a fab storage place for all those vile wheelie bins we have to look at every day. Maybe concentrate on the people making our town look a mess instead. 🙂

  3. Horace Reply

    Sea Lanes might need a changing room or two

    • Serena Evans Reply

      Sealanes is illegal. 1888 caveat preventing construction on Madeira Drive beach obscuring views of who/what is landing on shore. BHCC should be revoking Sea Lanes permission!

  4. Greens Out Reply

    Has anyone from the council actually visited Lower Rock Gardens?

    It’s a dump

  5. SamC Reply

    Ridiculous – Jobs Worths at the Planning department at it again. This city would really benefit if the Planning department turned their attention to egregious violations of planning permission by some “speacial” people/operators rather than conveniently turning a blind eye and refusing to enforce Planning regulations. There is a very bad smell around the Planning department when it comes to such matters. Rot starts at the top.

    • MYSELF Reply

      Hope he appeals. Wether he planned to keep it there permanently or not it’s on his driveway and on wheels so I fail to see how it violates any planning permission. Hope the guy appeals, wins and embarrasses the idiots at the planning department.

      As for the neighbors who complained, well probably best we all keep our opinions of them to ourselves but I imagine we all share a view of them

    • Jane Power Reply

      I love the hut, I think it brings joy to almost everyone who sees it. In my opinion BHCC planning dept is not fit for purpose.

  6. PHILIP WILLETT Reply

    I think it’s great and fully in keeping with the spirit of Kemptown and Brighton.

  7. Natnen Reply

    Fuming. It’s on wheels and his own land/space to use. Gimme an email address;I’m writing a letter

  8. Paul L Reply

    Haven’t the council got better things to spend their time and our money on? It’s mobile anyway so it’s hardly an outbuilding or even a building at all. Instead of targeting harmless things like this colourful and cheerful beach hut, perhaps they could focus on the graffiti, vandalism, and other aspects that are the real problem in the city.

  9. Serena Evans Reply

    It looks great! Something which actually pays tribute to historic Brighton for once (unlike most projects sanctioned by the council).
    Leave it alone!

  10. frank w Reply

    I wish the council would put as much time and effort into moving on all the new-age travellers who have camped along madeira drive, and various other public spaces, rather than this

  11. Billy Short Reply

    I tend to side with the council on this one.
    I build sheds and garden buildings myself for a living but we usually put these in the back garden and they are subject to height and other restrictions.

    I also lived in that road for five years and it IS a conservation area – with some lovely old buildings and many guesthouses. So you don’t want front gardens filled with trailers or camper vans.

    I’m sure this one would look great on a glamping site somewhere. But if he wants free parking, just put it on Madeira Drive – the council won’t bat an eyelid if he joins the latest Woodstock festival there.

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