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Go-ahead for ambitious New Forest seafront scheme

At a meeting of New Forest District Council on 11 July councillors approved an ambitious scheme to improve Milford-on-Sea seafront and rebuild 119 beach huts. Although the project will cost more than originally anticipated, council members were convinced by the greater benefits the expanded scheme offered to residents and visitors.

Commenting on the positive impact on the economy of Milford and the wider New Forest, Councillor Barry Rickman, Leader of NFDC, said: "Now we just need to get on with it."

Members agreed to an additional spend of £1.1million, which comprised an extra £170,560 for the beach huts replacement, and a further £861,271 for the enhancements to the seafront. A budget of £70,000 set aside for previously planned improvements to the seafront steps will be put towards this.

The scheme will include rebuilding and widening the lower promenade; constructing 119 concrete beach huts and a new sea wall; extending the upper promenade out over the new huts to incorporate a public walkway giving uninterrupted views of the Isle of Wight; and improving access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The contract for the build will be awarded to Raymond Brown Construction Ltd of Ringwood this week, with work expected to start in September for completion in April next year.

The original £1.26 million project budget was agreed by the council in 2014, based on the estimated cost of replacing the original beach huts with a similar design. During the design development process, and in consultation with residents and other interested parties, the project expanded to include improving the public spaces around the beach huts.

Colin Read, NFDC's Executive Director of Operations, explained what that change to the project has meant: "The prices we received as part of the tender process came in significantly over the budget set two years ago to replace the huts that were damaged in the 2014 storms. Our decision to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to look at the wider benefits that could be gained from this project for residents and visitors to Milford meant that the costs increased. That, coupled with an upturn in the construction industry which has seen prices rise, meant that the project team had to ask councillors to approve a £1.1million increase in the project budget to a total project budget of £2.36million."

Milford beach hut owners pay an annual site rental which provides the council with an income of £45,600p.a. The hut owners are contributing a total of £429,877 towards the cost of replacing the beach huts.

Published: 13 Jul 2016
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