Agricultural Solicitors Suffolk – When is a beach a village green?

Andrew Nicholson

‘A recently decided case will be of interest to those who are involved in dealing with village greens.  The Court of Appeal has decided that a beach in Sussex, which is completely covered by the sea at high tide, can properly be registered as a village green.

Referring to section 15 of the Commons Act 2006, the judge deciding the case held that there was no need for a ‘definitional link’ between the land in question and a traditional village green.  He said that registration depended ‘simply upon meeting statutory conditions that are expressed without reference to a town or village green’.

West Beach in Newhaven was formed by the construction of a breakwater in the 1880s and the port authority fenced off public access in 2006 due to concerns that the sea wall was dangerous.  East Sussex Council applied to register the beach as a town or village green, having received an application from the local town council.  There was then a public inquiry at which a planning inspector agreed with the council that the beach should be registered, but the port authority began judicial review proceedings.

The Court of Appeal confirmed the original judgment in the case, which had held that the registration of the beach was not prevented by virtue of the fact that there was no fixed boundary.

The port authority as owners of the beach have announced that they will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, and it will be interesting to see whether any appeal materialises.’

Andrew Nicholson is an agricultural solicitor at Barker Gotelee, solicitors in Suffolk

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