A wire fence has been erected outside the Adur Outdoor Activity Centre in Brighton Road, limiting access to the river and green space beyond.
Adur Rec was originally named the Adur Memorial Recreation Ground in 1921 in honour of soldiers lost in the First World War and banners were hung on the fence last week calling for a return to those roots.
Kim Matthews, 71, was born in Shoreham and has lived there for most of his life – family members including his great uncle are remembered on Shoreham’s war memorial.
“I was probably wheeled along those paths by my mother in the ‘50s, my grandchildren have played there and played in the rock pools in the area,” said Kim.
“We have had access to that land from the road for time immemorial.”
Kim’s wife Elizabeth, 67, said one of the main concerns was that public access was slowly being ‘nibbled away’, affecting the many people who visit the site for walks and recreation.
It also provides a prime location for kayakers and other river users to enter the water.
Kim, Elizabeth and dozens of residents on social media have called for the fence to be taken down and a greater emphasis placed on the history of memorial associated with the site.
Adur Outdoor Activity Centre and the surrounding land is owned by Adur District Council, but leased by a separate company.
The company was asked by the Herald to explain the reasons for the fence, but a response has not yet been received.
The council said it was working closely with the operators of the centre and had been ‘very clear that access must be provided for the community to access the river’.
“We have agreed that access will be provided with the centre via the car park in the short term,” a spokesman said.
“We will continue to work closely to try and resolve the issue in the longer term, considering all options to ensure the matter is resolved amicably.”
Shoreham Beach councillor Joss Loader has put her weight behind the public calls for greater access.
“People feel very passionately about protecting our access to the river and public rights of way and I support them fully,” she said.
“It’s good to see that Adur District Council has come back so quickly and is working with the AOAC proactively to resolve this amicably and hopefully to the full satisfaction of residents, walkers and river users. It’s important to remember that Adur Rec was gifted to the people of Shoreham and needs our full protection. This should be able to be achieved without compromising the AOAC’s security.”