Eastney Naturists

Campaigning to Save the Beach

Barry, on behalf of the Eastney Naturists, made a written deputation that was read out to the Executive (copied at the bottom of the page). 

Portsmouth City Council Executive met on 18th Dec and having heard the deputations decided to defer the matter until the next Executive meeting (probably the 18th Jan 2008 meeting – the 4th Jan meeting seems to be solely concerned with “Mountbatten Centre Redevelopment – public space appropriation and disposal”).  QinetiQ made some sort of verbal offer, valid only for that day, about public access to the beach.  The Executive decided this needed to be submitted in writing by QinetiQ with full details as to just what this offer entails.  It was also pointed out that the report recommending this sale didn´t even bother to mention that the land in question was part of a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation!  I´ll keep this page updated as and when.

There is coverage of this issue by the Portsmouth News, as well as an online poll – you can view the article and poll here.  The poll asks “Is The Mod’s proposal for access to Eastney beach bad news?” (It´s not the Mod´s proposal, but QinetiQ´s, but the point is the same).  I voted Yes, it is bad news – I´m of the opinion that it´s not only bad news for the naturists who use the beach, but also bad news for the city and its residents who own the SINC.  I would encourage anyone who feels strongly about this issue to take part in the online poll and vote, as well as leaving a comment at the foot of the article.

Written Deputation:

On behalf of naturists and other all users of the beach at Eastney, which has lately become the ‘windfall’ property of QinetiQ, I wish to state that we have been given insufficient consideration throughout the planning process for the development of the site at Fraser Gunnery Range. Please consider the following points.

   QinetiQ has recently made moves to end public use of the beach that has now been put into private ownership. This is despite the assurance at the planning hearing in 2005 by QinetiQ’s representative, Matthew Fox, who said at that time that “The beach is not part of the planning application and we would have no objection to its continued legitimate public use.”  They now seem to have gone against their original assurance which probably helped to form the council’s opinion at that time.

   The beach at Eastney is one of the busier and more popular parts of the beach with dog-walkers, fishermen, strollers and bathers (whether naturist or not).

   Naturists have used this beach unhindered since 1935 and we have a number of sworn affidavits attesting to this fact. For QinetiQ, who are a merely transitory owner of the site, to now attempt to upset the custom and practice of the past 70 years is clearly unfair.

   Restricted access is almost universally opposed by the local community, local councillors whom we have canvassed, and prospective councillors in the recent local elections. We have also enjoyed support for naturism at this place from the police, Eastney Neighbourhood Forum and the recent poll conducted by The News.

    Please do not be swayed by any sentiment that naturism is not a legitimate use of the beach. Public opinion is generally in favour of naturists and a recent survey by Propertyfinder.com found that around 75% of those questioned said that they would not be put off buying a property where the neighbours regularly stripped off in the garden.

   The access road belongs to the council, but QinetiQ have a right of access over it – it now looks as though QinetiQ are now asking for extra rights to widen the road (taking a strip of land from the Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Any agreement between QinetiQ and the City could and should benefit the City and its Residents by being tied to guarantees of continued public access to the (now) privatised beach.  Any such guarantee should not be a casual one but a proper, written, legally binding assurance.

   The failure to secure public access to this part of Eastney Beach would represent a major loss of amenity both for city residents and visitors to Portsmouth and is considered to be a highly contentious issue in the local community. This development may be in the interests of a housing-target-obsessed Council, or in the interests of profit-driven developers, or even in the interests of those looking for a second home / luxury flat overlooking the sea – in my opinion it is certainly not in the public’s interest.

In summary, I would urge all members of the executive committee, who are elected representatives of their constituents, to heed the wishes of the people and gain real value in this matter for the city which means more than just meeting government housing targets.

© Eastney Naturist Beach Liaison Group- Eastney Naturists