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A row of seafront holiday lets built on council land sold for just £165,000 has been put on the market for almost £3.5 million.
The seven cottages in Whitstable, Kent have been slapped with the hefty price tag by estate agency Christie & Co, who said the properties generated £430,000 in income from holidaymakers in the past year.
Consisting of one and two-bedroom houses, the lucrative site on Sea Street in the seaside town forms part of The Warehouse development that incorporated the formerly Canterbury City Council-owned Oval Chalet plot and land previously occupied by a tile firm.
The local authority struck a deal with house-builders to hand over its chunk for £165,000 in 2014, a decision that still riles critics of the scheme.
Locals have branded the ‘pittance’ generated by the council’s sale ‘a missed opportunity’ and said that the holiday properties are contributing to an over-abundance of second homes in the area.
A row of seven holiday homes in Whitstable, Kent (pictured) have been put on the market for £3.5million
The ‘purpose-built’ holiday lets consist of a mixture of one and two-bedroom properties
Graham Cox, of residents group the Whitstable Society, said: ‘They’re adding to the serious problem of making the area dead off-season.
‘The streets behind the beach seem to be 80 per cent holiday lets and holiday homes.’
The 2014 sale sparked a High Court challenge with a judge ruling that the council did not get the best price for the 0.2-acre plot.
Despite this, the judge ruled the sale to Sea Street Developments Ltd – headed by Whitstable Oyster Company boss James Green – could go ahead.
The Warehouse development also featured the erection of eight luxury homes which were marketed for almost £10 million combined last year.
The properties were built partly on land formerly owned by Canterbury City Council, which was sold in 2014 for just £165,000. Pictured: the view from one of the holiday cottages on Whitstable seafront
Estate agency Christie & Co say the holiday homes generated £430,000 in income from holidaymakers in the past year
Mr Cox added: ‘It was sold for a pathetically cheap price.
‘It was a missed opportunity for the council on a massive scale.
‘We got professional valuers who said the site was worth between £300,000 and £500,000 – not the pittance they paid for it.
‘It’s left a lot of people very, very angry.’
Advertising material produced by Christie & Co says the holiday homes, which opened two years ago, are ‘already enjoying a good level of occupancy and strong average daily room rates of about £220’.
The firm also added that ‘trading data for the properties shows revenues of just under £430,00’ in the year to May.
A spokesman said: ‘The Warehouse Cottages represents a rare opportunity to purchase a high-quality, purpose-built terrace of seven holiday cottages on the seafront.
‘Each unit has private parking and offers accommodation for up to four people.’
Whitstable, where the seven homes are located, is one of many holiday locations where locals are getting angry at the over-abundance of second homes
Responding to criticism of the sale this week, Canterbury City Council spokesman Rob Davies said: ‘The issues around the sale of the Oval Chalet site have been fully investigated.
‘Lessons were learned and processes around the disposal of land have been changed.
‘As such we have no further comment to make on this historic matter involving a sale eight years ago.’
Earlier in the summer, Whitstable and other ‘second home hotspots’ began to rise up against wealthy ‘outsiders’ who have been snatching up properties to convert into holiday lets.
Britain’s ‘staycation spots’ including St Ives, Salcombe, Whitstable and Tideswell are beginning to rise up against wealthy ‘outsiders’ who have been snatching up properties to convert into holiday lets and seaside boltholes. It comes after Whitby locals turned out in their droves to vote to impose limits on second home owners
The towns were inspired by Whitby’s historic decision to ban out-of-towners buying new builds.
In June residents in the fishing port on the Yorkshire coast turned out in their droves and won a landslide 93% vote to stop new builds being sold to rich Londoners amid mounting fears that families are being priced out of the housing market.
Architect and Kent coast resident Matt Hayes said that Whitstable – the top destination for second homeowners in the South East – could ‘consider’ backing its own ban on ‘outsiders’, ‘given the plethora of Airbnb key safes you see dotted about’.