Council responds to rumours of Newhaven beach being ‘back open’

West Beach in Newhaven before it was closed off to the public. Photo by Peter Cripps
West Beach in Newhaven before it was closed off to the public. Photo by Peter Cripps

Rumours that West Beach in Newhaven is ‘back open’ have been quashed by the council.

It comes after beachgoers flocked to the beach over the bank holiday weekend.

Many residents took to social media to express their delight over the beach being back open. However, Newhaven Town Council has confirmed that this is not the case.

A spokesman said: “It would be lovely it was open again but I am afraid it is not and is down to the owners to allow the public to use it – and we respect their choice.”

A battle over whether the beach should be reopened to the public was taken to the Supreme Court in 2013.

The owners of the beach appealed against a ruling that it should be listed as a village green, giving residents the right to use it.

The two-day hearing in the Supreme Court followed a six-year dispute since Newhaven Port and Properties (NPP) shut the beach in 2008.

The company had claimed the beach was unsafe, the BBC reported at the time.

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Newhaven Town Council and East Sussex County Council then won an Appeal Court ruling that the beach should have village green status. However, the court reached the view that registration of the beach as a town or village green would operate in a way to prevent the harbour authority from carrying out its statutory functions under its enabling acts and orders.

Micheal Smewing, CEO and port manager at Newhaven Port and Properties (NPP), said: “Newhaven’s sandy beach on the East side of the breakwater has been closed to the public since 2008 due to health and safety concerns.

“The beach and its access are dangerous and are fenced off. The gate is padlocked and there are signs warning the public that it is not safe and it is private property.

“It is disappointing to see that members of the public are causing criminal damage to the gates, fence and signage to enable access. By doing so they are putting their safety and the safety of others at risk.”