PLANS to rebuild the Beach House café on Mudeford sandbank have been suspended pending a review following criticism of “inadequate” consultation on the scheme.
Hundreds of people have objected to the planning application for the new, larger building proposed by BCP Council, criticising the lack of engagement with the owners of neighbouring beach huts, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
And at their latest meeting, the council’s cabinet agreed to “put on hold” its support until a review of the project is concluded in September.
Plans to rebuild the café building, which was demolished after a fire in November 2018, were first revealed at the beginning of the year when councillors approved funding of just over £1m for it.
The full planning application was submitted in March with the council saying it would “offer improved visitor experience” compared with the former building.
But beach hut owners have hit out at the “inadequate” level of consultation they have had on the scheme. They warned the council it faced “permanently damaging” their relationship if it went ahead with its plans.
This prompted a recommendation from the council’s scrutiny board that the cabinet “reconsiders” proceeding with the scheme until its “commercial rationale” had been reviewed.
In a statement read to the cabinet meeting, Highcliffe and Walkford ward councillor Nigel Brooks echoed beach hut owners’ concerns.
“It is clear given the number of objections, inadequate consultation and engagement has been undertaken and specifically with key stakeholders, including beach hut owners,” he said.
“On this basis I would ask for the planning application to be withdrawn and/or deferred until an adequate consultation has taken place.
“This is to ensure the scale and design of the Beach House café does not prejudice the Mudeford spit and the enjoyment afforded to beach hut owners who are the very people who pay significant annual fees to the council.”
Despite recently saying a “significant” amount of consultation had been carried out, cabinet member for tourism, Cllr Lewis Allison, agreed the council would suspend its support for the project until September.
“In the meantime we will explore fully all of the concerns that have been raised as well as the business case viability,” he said.
“When we come back to cabinet in September we will report back with recommendations about how we best proceed with the project and whether or not we continue to support it.”