Agenda item

Update on Beach Access for All - Bognor Regis

The report summarises the activities agreed at the Environment Committee meeting on 27th February 2023 where the recommendations of the Bognor Regis Beach Access Working Party (BRBAWP) were reported. It presents the findings of the desk study and site surveys conducted by the Coastal Engineers and Flood Prevention team and updates on actions taken this year to improve access to the beach.

[10 Minutes]


[During discussion of this Item, Councillor Madeley declared a Personal Interest as the Ward Councillor for Felpham West]


Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Senior Coastal Engineer introduced the report to Committee. He explained this followed a report brought to Committee in February. The report illustrated the steps taken to meet the short-term objectives. A survey of existing ramps was attached as an appendix to the report, which presented methodology and identified that two ramps were suitable for future clearance. Those ramps were Blakes Road and Gloucester Road. The selection criteria applied principles from national standards and considered the entire access chain, thinking about transport, local infrastructure such as toilets, parking and cafes. It was important to note that the supporting provisions were extremely important when delivering accessible infrastructure. The report also begun to consider some of the medium and long-term objectives, exploring potential funding sources, possible stakeholders and talking to neighboring authorities about their experiences. Worthing Borough Council had kindly provided a statement under 4.6, they had their own issues in developing their model. Steps had been taken to commence stakeholder engagement and some positive meetings with Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester (VAAC), whose connections would help to progress stakeholder engagement along with the Vice-Chair of his Committee. Officers were looking to hold stakeholder engagement meeting in January.


          Members then took part in a question-and-answer session which is summarised below.


There was concern that the two ramps to access the beach were in Gloucester Road and Blakes Road, which were used by jet skis and the sailing club. The Senior Coastal Engineer explained that they were looking to work actively with jet ski users and Felpham Sailing Club. There was a local business that had an interest in working with the Gloucester Road ramp, and it was hoped an agreement could be come to regarding managing this ramp.


It was suggested the best place for a ramp would be in the centre of Bognor Regis opposite Place St Maur, and it was asked whether the possibility of using ramps there had been excluded. The Senior Coastal Engineer explained the ramps that had been discounted were primarily due to them being covered in shingle, the shingle was the primary coastal defence. The possibility of a new ramp in that area would need to be looked at alongside a major capital project such as renewal of the sea defences.


The Senior Coastal Engineer and Group Head of Environment and Climate Change were thanked for their work on this report and also the Bognor Regis Beach Access Working Party, and it was clear they had wanted to support making the beach accessible. Immediate action had taken place allowing some access onto the beach during the summer of 2023, and this work would be continued for the 2024 season.


One Member was disappointed with what had been achieved so far, and hoped to see other things in place such as clearing shingle from more ramps, installing and a trial with beach wheelchairs, and he felt a budget was required. He hoped to see a metal roller ramp installed in the summer of 2024. The Group Head of Environment and Climate Change reminded Members that Committee agreed to the objectives set out in the report in February, and it was based on taking lots of small steps with the aim of helping as many people as possible. This was aimed at access for all, and the stakeholder meeting would invite people to make representations, to clearly understand people’s aims and objectives. Nothing was discounted at this time, but Officers were keen not to embark on projects that would not be supported by stakeholders. One of the aims was for Bognor and the coast along this stretch to become an exemplar for access for all. The Senior Coastal Engineer explained that they needed to focus on the mental barriers as well as the physical solutions, and it was really important that supporting infrastructure was in place as this was instrumental in overcoming barriers, such as having toilet facilities etc.


A non-Committee Member given permission to speak by the Committee, and hoped that the stakeholder group were able to discuss the possibility of more Arun-owned ramps being cleared of shingle, so further investigations could take place.


The report was noted.

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