Eastney Naturists

Campaigning to Save the Beach


Under discussion by the Eastney Neighbourhood Forum was this item on the Agenda:

EASTNEY NATURISTS’ BEACH CAMPAIGN – WHAT DO YOU THINK?

For the past 50 years, part of Eastney Beach has been used by nudists/naturists. Naturists are now worried that planned redevelopment of the MOD site behind the beach and the building of high rise apartment blocks threatens its continued use by them and may change the public usage of the beach. They have launched a campaign to preserve the area as a Naturist Beach, and are keen to hear the views of Eastney residents.

Representatives of Eastney Naturists Beach Campaign will be speaking at the Public Meeting on 23 November as part of the general discussion on the management and use of Eastney Beach
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Barry’s Report

The Eastney Neighbourhood Forum was held on Thursday 23rd November at 1830. It was well attended with the church being almost full.
 
There were a number of presentations, elections and points raised that have little or no bearing on our campaign and so I’ll move straight on to our own sphere of interest – naturist use of Eastney beach.
 
It had been decided by members of our committee that the time had come to engage a little more directly with local residents living in the vicinity. We had some objectives in mind;

Mike and I decided to present our views jointly and so Mike started the presentation and I took over at the half-way point.
 
The following text covers the points raised between us.

Presentation to Eastney Neighbourhood Forum – 23 Nov 2006 – Intro & Background
 
Ladies and Gentlemen – introduce ourselves as naturists and committee members of the Eastney Beach Campaign Group.
 
As you may already know, QinetiQ, the former MoD agency, plans to sell off the ex-publicly owned & newly privatised land overlooking the beach at Eastney and has now been granted outline planning permission for 131 apartments to be built in three large blocks of flats.   Although the section 106 agreement still hasn’t been finalised (possibly due to wrangling about the sea defences).
 
The flats are likely to have a significant impact on the local community in terms of traffic congestion, parking problems, density of population, visual intrusion and detriment to flora and fauna.
 
At the moment Eastney Beach (not just the naturist bit) is a lovely quiet section of the sea front, not at all like the more hectic part further along with the kiss-me-quick hats, candy floss & litter! Plainly we, as naturists, aren’t happy about having the tranquillity of Eastney threatened by the proposed development and we don’t think you should be either!
 
The traditional naturist beach (naturists have been using this beach for well over 50 years) is only a very small part of Southsea’s sea-front – & only a small part of Eastney Beach as well.
 
It may not be the most attractive of beaches, & the ex-MoD building isn’t that great either – But, it is a popular beach & there’s often a significant number using the naturist beach – on a warm sunny day easily several hundred people.
 
We do more than just quietly use the beach though, some of us take a more active role than most seaside users, we:

We are quiet and considerate users of the beach – When we last had a chat with our local police liaison, we were told that no-one at the main police station could really find anything to say against us. In fact, many went so far as to say that they really quite liked us there – with comments like “no trouble” & “never get called out there”.
 
Presentation to Eastney Neighbourhood Forum – 23 Nov 2006 – Our Concerns
 
Our main concern is that there may then be moves to exclude the naturists from Eastney Beach, both from the developers during construction and from NIMBY residents once the tower blocks are occupied. We would be delighted if our worries are for naught, but we wish to be prepared if they are not.
 
Naturists are a significant minority that has not always been very well provided for:
We are surely as deserving of consideration in this city as any other minority group (regardless of race, creed or ability).
 
We certainly don’t feel that the council gave our interests sufficient consideration during the planning process. The planning committee were told that as the beach wasn’t part of the planning application, it couldn’t have any bearing on their decision whether or not to allow the development.
 
We feel that that was wrong! The fact that the beach itself didn’t form part of the planning application shouldn’t have meant that the impact on the users of that beach was essentially dismissed.
 
We heard vague assurances from QuinetiQ’s spokesman at the planning hearing about allowing continued public access to the beach, but they plan to sell the site on. Will the developers and the residents of these tower blocks also continue to allow public access to the privatised beach?
 
Apparently Sea Front Management now have the new signs (to replace those that were stolen back in July), which is very welcome news indeed – some users of the beach have expressed concerns to us that the absence of the permanent notices was a worrying sign of things to come!

We feel that ALL users of the beach, walkers, joggers, fishermen, dog walkers, bathers, as well as naturists, should be concerned that public access to this privatised beach continues. Don’t forget this part of the beach is now private land all the way down to the mean high water mark!

If the naturists do get shut out, who will be next? Anyone who doesn’t happen to live in one of the flats?

What options are there if we are shut out from this beach? Whether it is a “temporary” closure during building (under the “Health & Safety” banner no doubt!) or whether it is effectively closed due to harassment from developers and/or new NIMBY residents of these luxury flats?

The audience listened quietly to our case and there were no objections expressed to our activities, by anyone. One woman did say publicly that as far as she was concerned we could use all of the beach nude! Support was also forthcoming from Councillor Caroline Dinenage from the Milton ward.
 
One man did enquire as to the legality of nudity at the beach. This was initially answered by a Police Inspector from Southsea who seemed to quote from a law that has now been superseded. Nevertheless his view was that nudity was traditional at Eastney beach and that he was unlikely to interfere unless there was any impropriety.
 
Continued Public Access to the privatised beach
Local councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson stated that he believed that if we could get signed affidavits to the effect that there had been unrestricted access & had been used continuously for 40 years, then that access was established and could not be revoked no matter who owned the land.  This point is to be pursued as we know that naturists are have been using the beach for well over fifty years, are there any of us out there who could provide such affidavits? (We have a member of the committee who has been using the beach since just after WWII – how about you, or do you know of, any others?)
 
The meeting was attended by a representative of the Seafront Management department who was able to confirm that the stolen signs are to be replaced next year. This will happen when the weather improves as there is little need for them in the winter months and there will be less opportunity for them to be stolen. He is currently investigating a method of securing the signs more firmly so that they won’t be stolen again.

A ‘man from the council’, whose name I did not catch, offered the suggestion that a ‘Friends of Eastney Beach’ group be set up. This would be a focus group for the widely varied flora and fauna to be found on the beach. Such a group may well be interesting and add a new angle to our presence on the beach. This is to be investigated.
 
Early in the meeting the council gave along presentation on the Local Development Framework which gave a broad picture of way it is envisaged that the city will develop over the next few years. It was interesting to note that within the framework there is a strong provision for community, social and cultural provisions. It is to be hoped that this aspect can be pursued to the advantage of naturists at Eastney.
 
After the meeting we were approached by a number of people who privately expressed support for our campaign. I think we had more support in a quiet way than was made public.
 
Mike and I gave a trainee radio journalist an interview about our issues and I have since been interviewed by another trainee journalist in his endeavours to get published in the local paper.
 
The meeting closed at about 8:30pm.

All in all, another very positive meeting for us!
 
 


© Eastney Naturist Beach Liaison Group- Eastney Naturists