Paddling ‘beach’ to be reopened in park near Horsham following public outcry

A ‘beach’ area in a park near Horsham is to be reopened following a public outcry when it was fenced off last month.

Horsham District Council says it will reopen the paddling beach at Southwater Country Park on Saturday July 24.

But visitors will have to book in advance and numbers are being restricted.

Uproar erupted in June when the council erected new fencing around the beach area.

The beach area at Southwater Country Park was enclosed by new fencing last month. Photo: Steve Robards SR2106015 SUS-210106-172237001

Residents feared the beach was being closed permanently without any public consultation.

However, the council later apologised for ‘confusion’ over the fencing.

And a spokesperson said today: “Following feedback from residents earlier in the summer, the council has been exploring options to reopen Southwater Country Park paddling beach safely as we start to come out of the worst of the pandemic, during what is anticipated to be a busy summer.

“A new booking system is being introduced to provide a more enjoyable and leisurely experience for visitors to the country park by reducing overcrowding and addressing the risk of anti-social behaviour.

“The booking system is set to go live on Monday July 19.

“A maximum of 60 people will be allowed on the beach area at any time. This will be organised based on the number of individuals booked and will not restrict numbers per family.”

Sessions will run from 10am to 5.15pm each day when the gates will be locked with last entry at 3.15pm.

The council says bookings are free and can be made for 1 hour 30 minute sessions and must be made in advance.

Meanwhile, the council says it is working on plans to trial summer evening outdoor catering in partnership with operators of the park café.

Mobile catering units will be situated outside the café and will offer a variety of foods, such as fish and chips.

From today (July 6) to July 9 the beach area is being re-surfaced and topped with extra shingle.

The path alongside the beach will be closed during the works and diversions will be in place.

Horsham Council cabinet member for leisure Roger Noel said: “We really welcome the news that the beach area of the country park will be reopened in time for the school summer holidays and that the visitor experience at the park will be enhanced with outdoor catering.

“We all deserve a great summer this year and we look forward to welcoming visitors to enjoy all the great facilities the park has to offer as safely as possible.”