The growing number of houseboats at Brighton Marina are changing its character and will have an adverse effect on tourism, residents warned councillors.

Two marina residents asked Brighton and Hove City Council why the houseboats, known as water lodges, were permitted and whether they required planning permission.

Neil Maxwell said the grey structures were altering the look and feel of the marina.

Speaking at a meeting of the full council Mr Maxwell asked about the need for planning permission and urged the council to meet residents and the marina’s operator Premier Marinas, which has a long-term lease from the council.

He said residents thought it was over-intensive development, affecting some people’s mental health.

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Outside the meeting, he said: “What you have is a situation where people like looking out at boats and the sea but now they are faced with what several people have said to me looks like a shanty town. Someone said it looks like chicken sheds in a field.”

He said the lodges were a “huge concentration” of grey and the area would look better if the marina management mixed the lodges in among the other boats.

Mr Maxwell added: “Brighton is spending a lot of money improving the waterfront, changing the entrance, which is great.

“Thousands of tourists come down here. They stop. They look at the fishing boats and the seagulls stealing from the fishing boats. They walk around the huge breakwater.


“Why is there no joined up thinking? This is a tourism gem. Hide the lodges among the boats but don’t make them so blatant.”

Fellow marina resident Gail Levine asked the council if the water lodges should be classed as caravans as they were incapable of “self-propulsion”.

She asked whether planning permission was required for more than five caravans and whether the council had considered the effect on tourism.

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Outside the meeting, she said: “Premier Marinas, the private company which operates the marina, have plans to instal 100 water lodges and new infrastructure at the expense of yachts and boats.

“There has been no consultation or discussion with the local residents, the boat-supporting businesses or the yachting community, all of whom are their neighbours and who have a vested interest in the marina.

“All we want is the ability to discuss these floating caravans and to have the opportunity to stop 100 of these from entering the marina and changing its character from a boating and yachting venue with its unique tourist viability.

The Argus: Residents have raised concerns about houseboats at Brighton MarinaResidents have raised concerns about houseboats at Brighton Marina (Image: Google Maps)

“We are at a loss to understand why the council is not supporting Brighton Marina as a leading tourist attraction.”

Green councillor Leo Littman, who chairs the planning committee, said the council had investigated concerns about water lodges on moorings at the marina and had spoken to the management company.

Premier Marinas told the council the lodges can have propulsion systems fitted and were considered “readily self-propelled”.

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One view is the marina’s functions are boat storage and leisure so owners should not live on their boats full time. If they did or if they used the lodges as a short-term holiday let, it would amount to a change of use.

Cllr Littman said: “It is acknowledged that, in design, they look different from seagoing vessels. Also, seagoing vessels may leave the harbour as they wish without being towed.

“However, in general terms, moorings are procured on a long-term basis and, although some vessels may leave and return, it is expected that moorings should be full on a regular basis and being used for leisure purposes.”