Beach battle as eviction sees dinghy club seek new home

Residents and parish councillors gather by the site proposed for a dinghy compound on Kingston Beach
Residents and parish councillors gather by the site proposed for a dinghy compound on Kingston Beach

Residents are fighting against a dinghy club’s bid to relocate after it received notice of eviction from its home of 44 years.

East Preston Open Dinghy Club hopes to build a 60-boat compound on Kingston Beach, with its current lease set to be terminated at the end of the year.

But with more than 250 official representations lodged with Arun District Council, objections outstripped letters of support by around three to one when the Gazette went to press.

The club claims to have gathered 800 signatures in support, while an online objection petition has seen more than 500 sign.

Councillor Geraldine Walker, chairman of Kingston Parish Council, said: “They have been sailing off East Preston for more than 40 years and it has been a valuable club in the community and has educated local children about the art of sailing and such things as beach and sea safety.

“However, the location being proposed is simply not suitable given the sensitive environment and the adverse impact on character and visual amenity of the area.”

Residents instructed Southern Planning Practice to write a detailed objection.

In a letter to Arun, planner Kim Blunt said the proposal would have ‘unacceptably harmful impacts’ on the undeveloped coast and occupy a substantial area of vegetated shingle – a ‘sensitive priority habitat’.

In response, club commodore George Schlich said there had been ‘gross misrepresentations’ of the plans. He said the compound would not include toilets or a clubhouse and would be accessed through existing rights of way. He believed the compound would not be visible from the higher land of the greensward.

He indicated the club could mitigate any adverse effect on sea kale, while it would seek to keep the South Strand public toilets open – in light of withdrawal of public funds – if the plans are approved.

The club would also continue to operate its safety boat – which Mr Schlich said would be a ‘tragedy waiting to happen’ if lost.

The club will hold an open evening at its base, in Sea Road, between 6pm and 7pm on Tuesday.

Representations can be sent to Arun until Thursday.