MORE than 100 families are looking forward to spending their first summer on the beach since 2013.

They are celebrating the completion of a multi-million-pound plan to replace 119 beach huts wrecked during a storm that battered Hampshire three years ago.

The long row of concrete huts at Milford on Sea were ripped apart by 80mph winds, depriving the owners of their seafront havens.

Now replacement structures have been built by New Forest District Council as part of a wider project to transform the promenade.

A reported, the cost rose from £1.26 million to £2.36 million as the scheme expanded, with £430,000 coming from the beach hut owners themselves.

The council’s deputy chief executive, Colin Read, presented the keys to one of the new huts to Colin Holdsworth of the New Forest Beach Hut Owners’ Association.

Mr Read said: “I’m proud that the council has been able to make the best of the unexpected opportunity to improve Milford’s seafront for everyone.

“I’m sure the improvements will encourage more visitors and benefit the village and the New Forest coast as a whole.”

The new huts are built into the upper promenade, reducing their exposure to the weather and increasing their chances of withstanding storms similar to the one that struck on February 14 2014.

Other improvements have resulted in better public access to the beach and lower promenade.

A walkway with handrails has been built along the top of the huts, enabling pedestrians to walk the full length of the new structure and admire the Solent views from an elevated position.

New ramps have been installed to ensure that wheelchair users and people with pushchairs have access to the lower and upper promenades.

The scheme was designed by engineering consultants Ramboll UK and Totton-based Snug architects.

Damian Westlake, of Ramboll, said “We were delighted to have the opportunity to design and supervise this interesting and challenging scheme.

“The design started with an aspiration to enhance the waterfront, provide robust beach huts and meet the needs of beach hut users, local people and visitors.

“We believe the new beach huts and promenade areas have been designed and constructed in a way that fully realises this aspiration.”

Building work was carried out by Raymond Brown Construction, of Ringwood, which arrived on site in September last year and finished the job on schedule.