Beach Hut Pricing

A note on the determination of beach hut prices on sites rented from the Council

It has been said that the price of beach huts is just a market outcome and nothing to do with the Council. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The cost of a new beach hut is no more than £2000: even for the fanciest. When someone buys a beach hut for £10,000, they are not buying just the hut in their perception. They are buying primarily what they think is the right to rent the site from the Council in perpetuity (and indeed to pass on that right to their heirs) and the right to sell-on this ‘right’ in perpetuity : as that is the way things are run at present.

The excess of the market price of about £8000 over the cost of building a hut is caused exclusively by the practice of permitting existing annual license holders to have the Foreshore Office transfer the annual licence to anyone who the present lessee chooses automatically (ie to the person prepared to pay £10,000). The license clearly states that any transfer is subject to the approval of the Council and therefore the Department of Community Services has every legal right to restrict transfers in any way it chooses.

It is therefore the Council that is causing the high price of huts on Council owned land for the simple reason that if transfers were banned, there would be no market for the ‘right’ to rent in perpetuity. In such a case, all surrendered leases would be allocated to people in a queue or through some other mechanism determined by Councillors and owners of the wooden huts could sell the structures to the new license holders. The Council also has an indirect effect on the value of huts on private land (such as West Beach) according to the level of rent charged for council sites.

The practice of permitting lessees to request officers to transfer the annually renewable licences to anyone automatically side steps any queuing system the Council may have in place. As the price has rocketed, the effect of present policy is to effectively steer by auction council hut sites to people from outside the District, as most local people cannot afford such high prices.

A market could still operate, but probably at much lower prices, if transfers were limited to new license holders from the District or, if a long lease system (eg 10 years) were adopted, the sale and purchase on the residual period on such leases.

A revamp of the whole system is a political decision, but whatever is done must be considered in the realisation that it is Council policy, in today’s market, that has a large influence on the price at which huts on Council sites are sold or indeed if there is market for anything other than the hut itself.

Programme of Events & Membership Card 2013-2014

All members of the Society should shortly be receiving their Membership Cards for 2013 and if we have your email address you should already have received an electronic version.

The programme of Events for 2013-2014 has been finalised and is printed on the card – it can also be seen on the Events Tab of this website.

New members always welcome – see the Membership Page for details of how to join.

KFAS AGM – Saturday 18th May

The Whitstable Society is a member of the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies (KFAS) and all members have been invited to their AGM and a tour of Rochester organised by the Rochester Society. In the words of KFAS Chairman John Walker:
…the KFAS AGM and Woolford Lecture on Saturday 18th May at The Visitor Information Center, 95 High Street, Rochester, ME1 1LX. starting at 10am.
There is a good choice of excellent restaurants and pubs in the High Street for lunch after the meeting.

The Woolford Lecture will be delivered by Griff Rhys Jones, the well known actor, writer and TV Presenter who is also President of Civic Voice, the national organisation for Civic Societies in England.

Griff is starting a four day tour of Kent on Wednesday 15th May to promote the activities of Civic Societies in the county in his role as President of Civic Voice.

The tour will culminate at the KFAS AGM where Griff will deliver the 3rd Annual Woolford Lecture. As everyone will know from his TV programmes Griff is passionate about the built environment and about the role civic societies can play in protecting and enhancing our villages, towns and cities. His talks are always interesting, informative and entertaining so this is a great opportunity to meet Griff in person and discus matters of common interest.

The AGM is of course free of charge but we would ask for a small donation to cover the costs of the room hire for the Woolford Lecture

We very much hope you will support this meeting by attending on behalf of your civic society and would be grateful if you could confirm your attendance by telephoning our Hon. Secretary Crispin Davis on 01303 237831 or by email at crispinandsue.davies@talktalk.net

2013 AGM Reports

The reports from the 2013 AGM are now available on this website on the ‘News’ page.

Click the ‘News’ tab near the top of this page to get to the News page and the reports are listed on the left.

Chairmans Report 2013

Chairman’s report

Last year I had planned to stand down as Chair, but then agreed to stay on with Angela Boddy as co chair and who will be chairing this year’s AGM this year in my absence. We have seen a lot of new faces on our committee who have brought new and innovative ideas to the society and I would like to thank them all for their support over this last year. I would especially like to thank our longstanding newsletter distributors who have over the years braved all weathers to deliver our newsletters. Thank you also to Rita Collett and the walking group who have provided the Society walks for many years and Ann who has provided refreshments. Mark Davies, our Honorary Secretary will be standing down this year due to other commitments, but he will remain to help us with our new website. I also shall be standing down as Chair, but hope to remain on the committee in my previous role for Public Rights of Way.

During this past year we have addressed many issues, some new and some ongoing. Looking back at last year’s report I am sorry to say that the Crab and Winkle bridges did not materialise due to lack of funding. The planning approval came too late for the funding to be approved. The planning permission for development of Tankerton Car Park was eventually granted by Canterbury City Council. Planning permission was also granted for a cycle path along Tankerton promenade. The Whitstable Society supported a seasonal route along the top of the slopes during Summer months, avoiding excessive traffic in front of the beach huts, but unfortunately this was not granted. Once the route is open we plan to monitor the usage during Summer months and to seek the opinions of those who use the route, promenaders, beach hut owners and cyclists.

We have also been supportive of the Thanet Way Residents Association in their bid to oppose the development on the Paddocks, on the corner of Millstrood Road and the Old Thanet Way. Which is proposing, in our opinion dangerous exits on to the Thanet Way close to the Tesco roundabout.

We are still working to maintain the integrity of Tankerton Slopes, especially to prevent encroachment of the protected open spaces by beach huts. Graham Cox, chair of the planning committee has also been representing us on CCC’s Beach Hut advisory committee.

As well as objecting to some planning applications, we also support many but may make some recommendations for improvement.

An exciting project this year has been the creation of a Whitstable digital map, which will provide information on many aspects of Whitstable from its history, geography and many local amenities eg. Public transport routes, accommodation, footpaths and open spaces, recreational facilities etc. This is progressing well, but is a long term project which will become available in stages. Users will be able to see these maps online or print hard copies.

In addition, this coming year Canterbury City Council will be publishing the new draft local plan, to which we will responding with the intent of retaining the integrity of Whitstable whilst recognising the need for future development.

Kath Gill

Whitstable Beach Campaign

Many of our members will remember how Ann Wilkes tirelessly campaigned to make our beach a public space for all local residents and visitors to enjoy. She and Peter Steel, as members of Whitstable Society Public Rights of Way committee, successfully claimed Village Green status for some sections of the beach, but not for all of it.

The Whitstable Beach Campaign, headed by Nick Dewhirst, continued with Ann’s lifelong dream to claim a public footpath along the beach and in 2004 an application was made to Kent County Council for a 5 mile long public footpath starting at Reeves Beach and ending by the Sportsman Public House. Historic maps show a footpath along this stretch.

Now 9 years later, in 2013, KCC are considering the application with a view to making an order to create this path as a public right of way. Most important to the claim are witness statements from people who have regularly walked along the beach. Statements are needed from people who walked along any stretch of the beach, not necessarily the whole of the 5 mile stretch and the beach campaign are asking for people to come forward as witnesses. If you feel that you can help and have walked along the beach at any time over the last 60 plus years please contact Nick Dewhirst at dewhirst@btinternet.com

Treasurers Report February 2013

Treasurers Report for 2012

Again the expenditure exceeds the income, which has been the pattern in recent years. This can be attributed to the decline in membership and therefore a decline in subscriptions, which are the Whitstable Society’s main source of income. Membership in 2007 was 354, 2012 was 190. At the same time expenditure has continued to increase. We have looked at ways to reduce costs, one being the newsletter, which is now printed locally cutting the printing costs by half. This saving will reflect fully in 2013. The posting of the newsletters has also been greatly reduced, saving on postage, so thank you to the team of distributors who deliver them around the Whitstable area.Eve advised that membership fees had not risen since at least 2004 and have now been revised to £12/couple and £8/single membership, in order to bring costs more into line.We need to keep the membership numbers up. We are open to suggestions as to what you as members would like to get out of the society, how to raise funds and what would encourage new members. Suggestions included WS greetings cards, lottery grants for specifics such as the map project, standing order membership, walks and asking for donations rather than a set fee.If you have already renewed your membership for 2013/14 thank you for your support. If you have not yet done so, please do so as soon as possible and also encourage family and friends to join. The accounts for 2012 have been checked by an accountant and these together with the financial statement are available to view on request, so please contact us accordingly if you wish to do so.

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Treasurers Report February 2012

General Financial Position(to be read in conjunction with the financial statement)

The society has had what for the last few years has been a ‘normal year’ with the exception of additionally having a special event costing around £500 to celebrate its 50 years of existence. (with £250 carried over into this years expenditure for the previous years Christmas bash we have ended the year with assets around £750 less than a year ago).
To maintain a balanced budget for next year the committee may wish to look at an upward revision of annual subscriptions and/or achieve an increased membership.
Many of our costs are rising e.g. printing of the newsletter and savings may be achievable if more members were to accept their newsletter by e-mail rather than a hard copy through their letterbox(perhaps subject for future discussion). Room hire remains constant at £30 per meeting at the Castle and seems well recived as a venue.

Affiliation Fees
The society by way of maintaining its role as a ‘civic’ or ‘amenity’ group both within the Town and more broadly this year subscribed to the following organisations:-
Civic Voice £286 (includes insurance that would otherwise
cost the society).
KFAS £10
Open Spaces Society £40
Whitstable Improvement Trust £25
Whitstable Castle Trust £15

The Future
The Society remains as always as strong as the membership it enjoys. Changes and departures (most notably the elevation of 2 committee members to the role of Canterbury City Councillors) have left a somewhat depleted committee. What the Society is involved in and provides for members (and by default its expenditure) is limited by the ideas and skills of its membership as I am sure your outgoing chair will duplicate in her report. I , due to other commitments, would like to find a replacement treasurer; I did after all take on the role in a temporary capacity about ayear ago. Any takers?
The only threat to the Society is not being able to maintain its membership and thus income over the next period. Any projects beyond running costs would need to be from reserves and not taken lightly unless alternative funding could be achieved.

Henry Lewis Treasurer.

Whitstable Society AGM – 2013

The Whitstable Society AGM for 2013 will take place at the Castle on Wednesday 20th February following the regular monthly members meeting which commences at 7.15pm.

The Agenda for the meeting is as follows:

Agenda for the 52nd Annual General Meeting

1. Welcome to members present and any apologies received.

2. Any matters arising from the 2012 minutes (attached).

3. Officers’ Reports and Chairman’s Review.

4. Retirements of Officers and Committee members.

5. Election of Officers and Committee members for 2013/14

The following members have been nominated and are willing to serve:

Chairman: Angela Boddy
Vice-Chairman: Kath Gill
Hon Secretary: Roger Pethers
Hon. Treasurer: Evelyn Smith
Membership Sec: Richard Johnson
Committee Members: Graham Cox
Maureen Smith

As the total of Officers and Members nominated is less than the maximum allowed under the Constitution of the Society (15) there is no requirement for an election and the above-named are deemed to form the Executive Committee of the Society for 2013/14.

6. A.O.B.

December 2012 Newsletter

December/January Newsletter 2012/2013
Christmas Party: Wednesday 12th December:

This year’s Christmas Party is on Wednesday 12th December. The venue is to be at Whitstable Castle, which is so suitable for the Christmas atmosphere. Food and games are provided and this year the Castle are providing a bar to supply beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. We do have to remind you that if you bring your own alcoholic drinks there will be a corkage charge of £2.50 per bottle. Please join us for what promises to be a pleasant and enjoyable social evening at the Castle

Next meeting – Wednesday January 16th 7-15pm at Whitstable Castle
We are pleased to welcome Lara Murphy from the Dogs Trust.

Annual General Meeting February 20th 2013

The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held at the Castle on Wednesday 20th February 2013. The whole of the executive committee and all Officers will stand down and all
positions are open for nomination. Please send your nominations to Mark Davies, Hon Sec: 68 Queens Road, Whitstable. CT5 2JQ before Wednesday 6th February 2013. The nominee a proposer and a seconder must all sign the nomination form.

Meeting Wednesday November 21st
We had a very interesting talk from Gary Johnson, Chairman and secretary of Whitstable Town Football Club (nicknamed The Oystermen). Gary was a former referee, who has always had a passion for football and became chairman this last year.
Although the first recorded football match in Whitstable was in 1885, the first record of Whitstable Town’s existence was the following year. After a couple of years playing in a field behind the railway station, the club relocated to The Belmont Ground in 1888, where they play to this day. The Belmont Ground boasts a seated stand along one side as well as covered terracing behind each goal. Within the last ten years the dressing rooms and clubhouse have been completely refurbished, a new snack bar built and floodlights.
In 1909 the Oystermen joined the original Kent League, where they played until it folded in 1959, winning the Division Two title three times. They also lifted the Kent Amateur Cup (now Kent Senior Trophy) in 1929. After the collapse of the Kent League, the club played for a while in the Aetolian League, but this meant long trips to play London teams and this was a period of financial struggle for the club, which dropped into the amateur leagues for a number of years.
In the late 1960s the Kent League reformed, with the Oystermen among the founder members. They remained members of the Kent League until their promotion to the Isthmian League in 2007. The 2006–07 season marked the best in the club’s history.
Whitstable Town are the best supported Kent team in the Isthmian League. Their major local rival is Herne Bay. When the two teams were most recently in the same league, their matches regularly attracted 400 or more fans. More recent matches against Margate in the FA Cup and Dover in the Isthmian League* have attracted more than 1,000 supporters.
There are also youth leagues for under 18’s and under 15’s and a reserve team.
The club is owned by the members and governed by the board, run in the same way as the big league players and self funded.
Moving into the Isthmian League means a requirement to further improve the ground facilities and in the event of a move into the Premier League, which Gary is aiming for, then even more improvements will be needed.
The club is run as a business like any other football club and money is raised by supporters, sponsors and events. Recent events have been a firework display and a concert. Gary is looking at ways in which to attract more supporters and run more events. Players get expenses for training, travelling and playing a game, but no salary. Sometimes players are bought from other clubs. Recently a 4-figure sum was needed to purchase a player.
At the time of our talk, the club were advertising for a new manager and on 2nd December. Nicky Southall was appointed the new Manager of Whitstable Town FC alongside current interim manager Richard Langley.
Gary’s aim for the future is to bring pride and passion to football in Whitstable via schools, clubs and the youth of the town.
*(sponsored by Ryman and officially known as the Ryman League)
Kath thanked Gary for an interesting evening and wished him and the team luck for the future.

Kent Federation of Amenity Societies Presidents Lunch
Maureen & Angela recently represented our Society at The KFAS President’s lunch. The event was hosted by the Ramsgate Society and gave us the opportunity to meet with other Civic Societies in our area to discuss & raise awareness of what they and we are doing as the representatives of our towns. Laura Sandys, as President of Kent Federation of Amenity Societies (also a Thanet M.P.), gave a brief but meaningful address in which she implored Civic Societies to do something, anything, rather than do nothing regarding Neighbourhood Planning. She also said that there was funding available for this work and that societies should get their MPs involved as they are able to work from within the Government. The new Director of Civic Voice, Steve Graham, spoke of his job lobbying government and is currently chasing them regarding development rights planned relaxation that is due to be implemented shortly. He said the more members of the society the more sway and the bigger our voice. He is also keen to get useful ideas and pointers used by some societies, out to others, so that all can benefit.

Planning Issues
At our November meeting, a member expressed concern that the Whitstable Society always seemed to object to planning applications. We are sorry if that is the impression we give, but, the reality is that we don’t publicise the applications that we don’t object to. For instance, during November we received a total of 36 plannig applications to review, of which we only objected to one; an application to extend the opening of Alberta Caravan Park, from 10 to 12 months. The reason for this was that that the site is very low lying and in danger of seasonal flooding during those two months of January and February and, remembering the floods of 1953 where there was loss of life, we did object as also did the Environment agency. For other applications we may make recommendations for changes but not object. Very occasionally, this is done pre-application by negotiation. Then only other recent objections were to the the lack of parking provision for the proposed development next to the Bear and Key site, as lack of parking will contribute to more congestion in the High Street and (see below) our new objection to the development proposed for the Paddock in support of the Old Thanet Way residents.

There followed a discussion on whether Whitstable would benefit from a Town Council. The debate was mainly about whether a council would have a stronger voice at CCC and be cost effective in view of the fact that, nowadays, a town council has only the same powers as a Parish Council and, bearing in mind, that the average cost to each household would be around £95 per annum. It was suggested that we invite a speaker from an existing Town Council, such as Ramsgate or Deal to speak at one of our meetings.

Wherever possible we do consult with members regarding decisions, but often a decision has to be made at short notice. Regarding future developments, members felt that there should be an overall picture kept in mind to ensure a correct mix of housing, industry and open spaces. This is exactly why Neighbourhood Plans may prove important.

The Local Plan
With the advent of the new planning laws and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Canterbury City Council are in the final stages of producing the new Local Plan. We have asked that when doing so they consider including Westcliffe and Prospect Field as “Local Green Space” the new, but tighter definition of “Protected Open Space”.
The draft Local Plan will be out in about March 2013. Ahead of that will be the officers’ assessment of all the re-zoning applications; which include a re-attempt by George Wilson to build down the slope of Bogshole Valley into pristine countryside alongside the Crab and Winkle Way; despite the empty units which are around very locally and also large tracts of land available for this purpose 10 minutes away in Herne Bay.

The Paddock – planning application CA//12/00160
We have weighed in against the proposed development of The Paddock, diagonally opposite Tesco across the roundabout. Originally submitted in March, various changes have had to be made, due to the deficiency of the original, with more information revealed. Part of the site would be for units as seen in the George Wilson estate behind Tesco and part for a church from Tankerton. This is no church in planning terms though. It is like a leisure centre with space being used for non-church activities 7 days a week. External events will include weddings with amplified sound. Those coming by public transport would have to cross the Old Thanet Way on a new uncontrolled crossing literally on the exit of the roundabout.
The applicant has chosen to apply when the old local plan is still 100% applicable. The land is hence still legally Protected Open Space and development of such space has to pass various tests. We have focused on the hurdle which requires there to be no alternative site. Research has established that there are large numbers of alternative sites (especially for the unit) but that one site in particular would suit the developments proposed far better than The Paddock and both sites are owned by the same owner: George Wilson. The second site is between the Estuary View and the Chaucer office park and has been put forward for residential development (‘Shlaa 192’). It is obvious, in pure planning terms, that the church and units would be far better sited near Long Reach with its far superior road access, frequent bus services and generally quiet section of the Old Thanet Way for vehicular entry and exit. The church would be only the second in Seasalter and would be easily accessed from all directions. The applicant claims that the site is for ‘office use only’ and yet is applying to build houses there. How much better to have the church and units there, rather than forcing them onto green Protected Open Space, located between residential areas.
In addition to local plan considerations, we object as well because the pedestrian crossing is likely to lead to injury or even death (as drivers focus on the busy traffic on the roundabout) and there is inadequate drainage, which will certainly lead to flooding for local residents.

Faversham Rd
The policy for this stretch of coast is to protect it with beach re-charges for about 50 years and then stop fighting. It is judged not worth public money to fight the rising sea level indefinitely and certainly not to raise the sea wall.

Whitstable Digital Map Project
We appear to be making good progress on the technical side, researching the possibilities
After our recent meeting at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) we now have a confirmed team of 4 keen volunteers there. Geography lecturer Alexander Kent, GIS Technician John Hills and two 2nd year geography students. CCCU we are told are keen on community projects. In addition to time and advice, they have offered us use of their mapping software. They also appear to be a very community orientated university. New WS volunteer Gordon Vincent joined Kath Gill and Graham Cox at this meeting.
The ultimate scope of the project is expanding whist still firmly within the objectives of the WS/WIT. The current sketch of current and possible objectives is as follows:

  1. A layered database which will enable the WIT and possibly the WS, to create physical maps. This could be available to all non-profit entities on some basis and can ‘automatically’ include groups who contribute (eg the Historical Society).
  2. An interactive map on the internet for all to use.
  3. Community layer(s). The public would be permitted to contribute educational data, perhaps with Wikipedia style policing.
  4. Private community layers. We may wish to permit other non-profits to create their own layers which are not visible to the public (eg schools).

The initial goal may be to get up on the internet a simple but up to date map using a few layers with limited data. This is a very extensive and interesting project and we are now looking for people to get involved with the map. Help is needed in different fields, from suggesting ideas for content or layout to data collection and anyone interested is very welcome to come along to our next map meeting which we plan for early in January next year.
Please phone Graham 01233 645520 or Kath 792974.

Whitstable Society Walks
There are no walks in January or February.

Merry Christmas
To all from the committee