A PROPOSAL to transform the West Beach in Newhaven into a village green was turned down by a judicial review.
Newhaven Town Council said it was disappointed by the development but pledged to take legal advice.
Mr Justice Ouseley, the judge in the case, concluded the beach could not be registered as a village green.
He reached the decision despite accepting that Newhaven Town Council provided significant evidence that the beach had been used by local people for more than 20 years as of right for lawful sports and pastimes.
The reason that the beach could not be registered, in Mr Ouseley’s opinion, was that registration was not compatible with the statutory purpose (running a port) for which the land is held by the Port Authority, because there is a conflict of statutory regimes.
Cllr Carla Butler said: “This is a devastating blow to the morale of people in Newhaven, who have used the beach in exactly the same way as a village green is used for generations.
“At last week’s Big Planning Consultation event held by the town council to find out what people most wanted to see in Newhaven, the one thing that local people voted for more than anything else was to see the beach reopened.
“NPP has won this stage of the battle on a legal technicality, but even the judge says that he would have preferred to hold that the beach was registrable.
“In all the years that the public have used the beach there has been no conflict between the operation of the port and the use of the beach – indeed photographic evidence was submitted by the town council in support of its application showing local families playing on the sand whilst a jack-up barge was moored there in the past.”
The mayor of Newhaven Steve Saunders added: “The recently produced Port Masterplan does not show the West Beach being used for any purposes at all.
“The town council strongly supports the current efforts being made by the Port Authority to regenerate the port and their bid for business from the proposed Rampion wind farm.
“However, we continue to see no reason why the use of the beach by the public should jeopardise this.
“I call upon NPP to do the right thing by the people of Newhaven.
“Reopening the beach would immediately win the Port Authority huge public support.
“The town council continues to welcome discussions on the best way forward to restore public recreational use of the beach whilst safeguarding the operations of the port.”
Newhaven Port and Properties (NPP) said it was unable to comment at this stage because it had not received the ruling from the Royal Courts of Justice judicial review.