Bournemouth council squanders taxpayers' money? The £90k beach huts scandal

Bournemouth council squanders taxpayers' money? The £90k beach huts scandal


Your childhood memories may be of soggy chip sandwiches eaten in a pokey hut with little more than a faded deckchair to sit on, but we’ve come a long way since then and the 2010 beach hut is now a (reduced) £74,995 ‘surf pod’.

That’s right folks, alongside Europe’s first artificial surf reef, (because we really needed that), a Dorset council has found another spectacular way to lose, I mean, generate wealth.

The designer pods located on Boscombe’s seafront originally went on the market at £90k and are the brainchild of Bournemouth council. They were introduced, presumably, to offer the new intake of holiday makers – drawn by the artificial reef’s surf – somewhere to stay. Didn’t you know surfers were loaded these days?

Unsurprisingly they’re not selling and now the council have bought in a third agent to try and push sales. So far both Savills and Goadsby failed to convince the public to spend £90k on a ‘surf pod’ in Dorset, and only 12 of the 43 have been sold so far.

Bournecoast Property Agents are the latest agents to take on the pods and have started offering them up for rent at £250 a week, as well as bringing the sale price down. You can now pick bag yourself a hut at the bargain price of £44,995, or for a top of the range hut (extra deckchair included), a mere £74,995.

The huts were designed by Gerardine and Wayne Hemingway, founders of designer label Red or Dead, and include a choice of single or double balconies, mains electricity and hot and cold running water. According to Bournecoast , “they also house integral retro kitchenettes with accessories and uniquely styled curtains, deckchairs, windbreaks etc.”

As with conventional beech huts, you can’t stay overnight in them and they don’t have individual toilets – though there are toilets per block of pods for residents’ use.

Both the pods and the artificial surf reef – one of only four worldwide – have stirred controversial press, with many newspapers – both local and national – condemning the projects. The reef, completed a year late and £1.3 million over budget, has been criticised for creating waves too short, infrequent and challenging for most surfers to manage.

However, Bournemouth council maintain that since Boscombe’s £8 million regeneration project, which includes the reef and the pods, the council has become a destination for water sports enthusiasts and estimate that the reef has generated publicity which has attracted visitors.

Those in support of the projects insist that locals must get behind them if they are to work – and that the panoramic shoreline views the pods provide make them great value for money. That and the ‘uniquely styled curtains’ and deckchairs of course.

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