PEOPLE who rent beach chalets face having to hand back their lease if they no longer live in Brighton and Hove.

The council is considering imposing the change in terms on dozens of people who have an open-ended agreement as part of a policy overhaul.

Beach chalets have been restricted to residents of Brighton and Hove since 2011 when a fixed five-year term was also brought in.

The council is also looking at building more of the concrete or brick beach chalets and colourful wooden beach huts along the seafront including in some of the less-well-visited stretches.

The Argus: Saltdean ChaletSaltdean Chalet

Any new beach huts or chalets could be let or sold and any money raised from new chalets or huts east of the Palace Pier could support the regeneration of Madeira Drive.

Councillors, people with beach chalets and beach huts and those on the waiting list have all pressed Brighton and Hove City Council to make changes over the past few years.

Some people have been on the waiting list for a beach chalet for over 10 years.

Councillors are to decide whether to bring in changes to their beach chalet letting policy at the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee next week.

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Officials may also be asked carry out annual checks to ensure that chalet licences are held only by residents.

A year ago, Sue John, a former Labour deputy leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, led a deputation calling on the current council to look again at the issue.

Councillor John, who now chairs Rottingdean Parish Council, said that six of the 30 beach chalets in the village had not been used for several years. She called for all licences to be changed to fixed five-year licences.

An online survey last September had 790 responses, with more than 90 per cent agreeing that people should hand back their chalet if they moved away from Brighton and Hove. And 65 per cent of those favoured fixed-term agreements.

The beach chalets are solid structures owned by the council in Saltdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Madeira Drive and Hove.

Currently, 36 of the 105 chalets are licensed on five-year fixed terms, with 69 still on indefinite leases.

Of the 69 chalet users who responded to the survey, 32 have had their chalet for more than 20 years and 33 for between 10 and 19 years.

Waiting lists are closed because they are so long. But of the 76 people on the waiting list who responded to the survey, eight have waited more than 10 years and 58 had waited for up to six years.

Rents range from £878 to £1,500 a year, depending on the location and whether the chalet has power and water.

Many consider them more affordable than buying one of the beach huts that line the seafront in Hove. Some beach huts have sold for more than £25,000 on the open market, according to a report to councillors.

The Argus: Bridget Fishleigh RottingdeanBridget Fishleigh Rottingdean

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who lives in Saltdean and represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, said that the issue was a “hot” topic.

Hundreds of residents wanted a chance to use the chalets, she said, adding: “There is plenty of room on the undercliff for new wooden beach huts.

“These could be bought, erected, insured and maintained by residents in the same way as the beach huts in Hove.

“The council would have no responsibilities apart from marking up the spaces for new huts and allocating the leases to residents.

“These are not difficult nor time-consuming tasks and don’t need a feasibility study.

“New beach huts would result in immediate and ongoing ground rentals for the council.

“In Saltdean alone, I estimate that there is room for 50 beach huts. Fifty huts with an annual ground rent of £500 a year is £25,000 a year that the council could make with very little effort. This approach would be a win-win all round.”

Another former Labour councillor, ex-mayor Mo Marsh, has also brought up access to the chalets in Madeira Drive by car for those with mobility problems.

The council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee meeting is due to meet on Thursday 14 January. The virtual meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm and be webcast on the council website.