Brighton beach hut owners told to agree to new terms or move their hut Brighton News

Many of them are unhappy that among the new terms proposed by Brighton and Hove City Council is a potential four-figure increase in the transfer fee.

Councillors are being asked to sign off the proposed beach hut licence at the council’s Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee at Hove Town Hall on Thursday, November 9.

Currently, licences cost £503.60 a year for placing a hut on council-owned land on the seafront, with an ownership transfer fee of £82.

The licence would mean owners having to pay ten per cent of the sales fee or four times the licence fee when huts change hands.

With sale prices of between £25,000 to £30,000, this could work out as an increase of more than 3,000 per cent on the current transfer fee.

A public consultation, which lasted more than three weeks, generated 145 responses.

The Argus: Hove Hut Owners at the Hove Hut Association AGM in October Image from Serena Mitchell

Example responses were included in a report to councillors, saying that beach huts would become unaffordable, the proposed fees would not add much to council coffers and the proposed increase was “extortion”.

There were also a few examples of owners supporting the proposals.

Among those objecting the new licence were David and Susie Howells, who have owned their beach hut for 20 years.

They said: “Over that time, we have invested significantly in its upkeep, including repairing and rebuilding it each time it has been vandalised, cleaning around it where it’s been used as a toilet because of the lack of seafront facilities, and recently rebuilding it at a cost of over £5,500.

“The beach huts on the promenade are a much-photographed attraction and beach hut owners all play our part as a community that adds value to the seafront experience for both residents and visitors to Brighton and Hove.”

Serena Mitchell, who bought her hut in 2017, has described the proposals as a “stealth tax”.

She said: “They use the word ‘fee’ as councils are not legally allowed to charge a tax on property sales. The government can and do.

“That’s called stamp duty and, in the case of second homes, capital gains tax.

“This stealth council hut tax would also be applied if a hut owner passes on a hut to a family member, who must be a local resident, as is anyone buying a hut.”

Ms Mitchell said that the price of beach huts had fallen in recent years since “temporary inflation” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report to the committee said that licences generated revenues of £192,000 for the 459 beach huts.

The annual licence fee is lower than the fee charged by councils covering Bexhill, Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham, Bournemouth and Christchurch, the report said.

About 20 beach huts a year are sold and the new fee was estimated to generate about £60,000 a year.

The report also said that a few other councils such as Rother, Adur and Worthing and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, had comparable transfer charges.

These included three times the licence fee or 10 per cent, whichever was greater, or a flat fee of between £6,000 and £20,000.

The Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee is due to meet at 4pm on Thursday (9 November) at Hove Town Hall. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

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This notice was published: 2023-11-06 16:40:00

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