Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Beach hut replacement costs at Milford on Sea rise by over £1m

Milford on Sea storm damaged beach huts
Image caption Huts in Milford on Sea were among hundreds destroyed on the south coast in the St Valentine's Day storm in 2014

The cost of replacing beach huts lost on a stretch of the Hampshire coast in the winter of 2014 has increased by more than £1m.

New Forest District Council said the cost of rebuilding 119 new huts at Milford-on-Sea has now risen to £2.36m

It has put the increase down to rising construction costs and extra work on the promenade.

Lib Dem councillor David Harrison accused the Tory-led authority of showing the "strangest of priorities".

"I suspect that if residents in other areas of the New Forest were asked whether they thought this extra expense was worthwhile, they would say a firm 'no'.

"We've had cutbacks in every area of service the council delivers - surely some of that money would be better put aside to protect those services," he said.

Most of the old privately-owned concrete huts were destroyed by waves and high winds during the 2014 St Valentine's Day storm, with the rest requiring demolition later.

'Wider benefits'

Conservative-run New Forest District Council (NFDC) said the initial plan to replace the huts had been expanded to improve public spaces around the huts and early tender prices had come in "significantly over budget".

Colin Read, executive director of operations, said: "Our decision to look at the wider benefits that could be gained from this project for residents and visitors to Milford has meant that costs have risen."

Cabinet members voted to approve the increase and the decision will now be sent to a full meeting of the council. If approved, the authority hopes to have the work completed by Easter 2017.

Colin Holdsworth, of the New Forest Beach Hut Owners Association, said: "I'm sad it's taking as long as it is to come to fruition. There are details over which the owners are not content, but only details."

Image copyright NFDC
Image caption Proposed designs for the new huts, set further back into the upper promenade, were released in 2015

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