Some points on the ‘private’ beach sign

From: Robin DisneySecretary, Normans Bay Residents’ Association

Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:00 am

Regarding Annemarie Field’s recent column on the mystery sign at Normans Bay:

In your article on the matter, I can inform you of the following :

The sign is not in Normans Bay, but Pevensey Bay, on land owned by Wealden District Council.

Normans Bay SUS-211103-142716001
Normans Bay SUS-211103-142716001

It was erected I am informed by residents who live along the beach – Pevensey Bay Beach.

I understand the reason it was erected was not to necessarily restrict access to the beach above Mean High Water Mark, although they are legally fully entitled to do so, but to offset the claims made by Natural England, with relation to the Coastal Path, and Coastal Margin.

Natural England claimed in their media, with reference to the Coastal Path that this land (beach) was not “excepted land” i.e. garden, in terms of the law, and that people could roam at will on this land, as it was defined as Coastal Margin – and shown on all their maps as such. This meant that all the people who owned beach – in Pevensey Bay and Normans Bay, had lost all ownership rights to their land.

This was in fact was incorrect, and we in Normans Bay found this out. “Excepted land” is only a definition, and is not a term encased by law. Therefore beach owners could decide themselves exactly what comprised their “excepted land”. This meant they would all claim the beach up until mean high water – ie was (excepted land”) their garden.

That means legally the owners of the beach, still have all the rights of ownership, they always had, and can fence their beach off, and stop people coming onto their beach above mean high water if they so wish. It is in fact their back garden.

Whilst at no time has anyone been prevented from walking on the beach, I am sure if anyone came along and told you that now, they had taken over your back garden, and were going to allow anyone to walk over it, you might be equally outraged.

Especially as beach owners have let people use their private beaches for years, without complaint.

I do not expect anyone to wish to close the top part of the beach to anyone, the residents think that following the claims made, the legal status of the beach should be clearly claimed and understood by all.