Town Green Application
Our application to make Whitstable beach a Town Green was first submitted in 2013. The public enquiry was heard in 2016. We are still awaiting the outcome. The decision is likely to be a landmark decision, whatever the outcome.
In 2013 Whitstable Beach Campaign applied to Kent County Council to register Whitstable’s beach as a Town Green. An application needs to meet several criteria, more details here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/town-and-village-greens-how-to-register.
The application was prompted by the installation of multiple ‘Private Land’ notices during the previous 18 months along a large section of the beach. The owners of the beach, Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company, have ongoing plans for development of the beach, challenging public access. They are capitalising on the significantly expanded upper dry beach, created as a sea defence from public funds. Town Green Status would provide an important safeguard preserving the beach for recreation.
The application was made on behalf of the people of Whitstable to legitimise their right to access to the beach in perpetuity. We presented over 400 witness statements from Whitstable residents who have used the beach for the last 20 year.
The Application was examined in an extraordinarily long Public Inquiry which ran over 3 sessions between May – December 2016, lasting 19 days, reflecting the complexity of the case.
The application was opposed by both Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company and Canterbury City Council on the following grounds:
- Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company said:
- the footfall of beach users would pose a biosecurity risk to the production of oysters, and continued public use of the beach would conflict with the farming of oysters on the foreshore
- Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company planned the construction of large processing sheds for grading and storage on the beach
- Canterbury City Council said that Town Green status may bring complications to the repair of the sea defences. Whitstable Beach Campaign dispute this.
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