Fears beach at Southwater Country Park will ‘look like prison camp theme park’

A fresh wave of anger has erupted over a ‘beach’ area at Southwater Country Park.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 11:57 am

And concerns are being raised that it will end up looking like a ‘prison camp theme park.’

There was a public backlash last month when Horsham District Council erected new fencing around the park’s beach area.

Residents feared the beach was being closed permanently without any public consultation.

The fenced off 'beach' area at Southwater Country Park  Photo: Steve Robards SR2106015 SUS-210106-172215001
The fenced off 'beach' area at Southwater Country Park Photo: Steve Robards SR2106015 SUS-210106-172215001

But the council announced yesterday that the beach would be reopened later this month - but that people would have to book in advance, numbers would be restricted and visits would be limited to one and a half hour sessions.

Now angry residents fear that the council also plans to introduce charges for its use.

They say it’s not what they wanted and not what they asked for.

One resident - David Wenzel - said: “It seems likely a next step towards charging for this previously free and popular amenity and another disaster in the making like the tip booking system and pop up Horsham cycle lanes.

“It should make for hilarity come the opening when people are sitting on the beach surrounded by fencing, looking like some prison camp theme park.”

He said the fencing was unsightly and would force more people to gather on the beach rather than on the grass around the beach.

“This will make crowding worse, affecting the enjoyment of the beach and negatively impacting safety, especially in an emergency.”

Other residents have taken to social media to vent their fury saying that the council’s plan is not what they asked for.

Many expected the fencing to be removed entirely once the beach area was reopened.

And, they say, the beach area operated smoothly before it was closed and fenced off and are querying why a booking system is necessary.

Local councillors say they have worked to have the beach reopened and that the ‘compromise’ system is better than the area remaining closed.

The council itself says the booking system will go live on July 19 and the beach reopened on July 24 with a maximum of 60 people using it at one time.

It says sessions will run from 10am to 5.15pm each day when the gates will be locked with last entry at 3.15pm.