Beach was not a 'village green'!

Posted: 2nd March 2015

beachIn a decision of interest to anyone who enjoys walking a dog or playing cricket on the nation’s foreshore, the Supreme Court has ruled that a beach adjoining the Sussex port of Newhaven was wrongly designated as a ‘town or village green’ (ToVG) under the Commons Act 2006.

The company which owns the port objected when the beach, which forms part of the harbour, was registered as a ToVG by East Sussex County Council on the basis that it had been used ‘as of right’ for exercise and recreation by members of the public for in excess of 20 years. The registration effectively rendered the beach sacrosanct against development and made it a criminal offence to interfere with or restrict its recreational use by the public.

Upholding Newhaven Port and Properties' challenge to the registration, the Court found that the beach had been used by members of the public 'by right' – as opposed to ‘as of right’ - in that such use had been impliedly permitted by harbour bye-laws since 1931. The registration was also clearly incompatible with the statutory under-pinning of the harbour which was established by Act of Parliament in 1847.