Council unveils beach huts, which look like shipping containers

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Essex beach huts

Southend Council has upset traditionalists, by building eight new beach huts on East Beach in Shoebury - which locals say look like shipping containers. The huts have metal roofs and the walls are made in clear plastic - filed with ugly hardcore.

So would you lease one?

Controversy

Their design is certainly challenging. The fronts look like a modern take on the beach hut - with colourful doors and large numbers. However, from the side they look like the kind of concrete pre-fab that is being pulled down around the country - albeit with a plastic coating.

The metal roofs, meanwhile, don't particularly stand out because they are covered in plants, but are going to make life tough-going in the rain.

They are quite a startling contrast to the traditional, colourful, wooden huts lining the beach further along.

Advantages

The council argues that they are arson-proof and vandal-proof - and that they work well with the traditional huts. According to the Echo newspaper, when planning permission was granted, the council pointed out that they were being built on a concrete plinth which at the time was a real eyesore, so they are at least an improvement on that

They spent £120,000 on 15 huts - of which only eight are currently in place. They are offering seven-year leases on each one for £20,000.

So would you lease one?

In terms of price, you could get a more traditional style round the corner, which is on the market for £16,000 - although it is a smaller hut. A second traditional hut has just sold for £15,000. They don't come up terribly often, but clearly you could get a hut locally for less. You have to ask whether you'd rather pay the extra for something that's marginally larger, and makes quite an architectural statement.

In theory you could make money from the hut by renting it out to holiday-makers. However, you'd have to be lucky or creative (or a bit of both) to make any money.

The price works out as roughly £240 a month, and one of the more traditional huts a few minutes' walk away is available to rent at £100 a week in low season and £200 in high season. Assuming you could rent the hut out for six weeks in high season and 17 weeks in low season, you could break even.

However, while the figures seem to make it a less-than-appealing prospect, the attractions of beach-hut ownership to true fans should not be underestimated. This summer, a tiny hut at Mudeford in Dorset sold for an astonishing £180,000. Given that it has no running water or electricity, this is quite incredible. And it wasn't even the most expensive hut on sale this year: at the time there was a hut on the market in Shaldon, South Devon, for £245,000.

But what do you think? Does it appeal?