As spring approaches, Brighton & Hove City Council is looking at ways to improve access to the beaches for residents and visitors.
Since last summer, councillors, officers and representatives from disability equality charity Scope, have been researching innovative solutions to improve access across Brighton & Hove’s seafront and beaches.
The work is in response to a petition, signed by nearly 2,000 people, asking the council to improve access to the city’s beach for disabled people and those with access needs.
A Beach Accessibility Working Group, made up of council officers and members of Scope’s project team, has been looking at ways to improve accessibility, from creating new viewing platforms, providing new beach wheelchairs and improving signage, maps and other information.
Brighton & Hove City Council’s Seafront Office currently has one all-terrain wheelchair which is available for public use and the council has allocated £10,000 towards buying additional models. Last summer, several manual and electric wheelchairs were tested on the city’s challenging shingle beaches.
The Beach Access group is continuing to explore various models, including an electric all terrain wheelchair, designed in the USA and which could be adapted for improved handling over the tough terrain.
The group has also been working with seafront traders and with the Sea Lanes development on Madeira Drive on improving access.
Changing Places toilet
Several improvements are being planned for the Spring and Summer season including:
- a temporary pathway, made from rubber matting, on an area of the beach outside the seafront office to improve access across the pebbles for wheelchairs, buggies and those with mobility difficulties
- a new Changing Places toilet, due to open in the summer, as part of the new Shelter Hall redevelopment
- a permanent viewing platform near the Shelter Hall
- developing plans for an accessible safe hub, for equipment and services, and a creating a new decked platform
Beach pathways and access improvements are also included in the planning applications for Black Rock improvement works and Sea Lanes development.
The council will also be looking at how funding from Section 106 agreements and the future Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions could be used to facilitate beach access.
A report will be considered by members of the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee on Thursday 5 March.
World famous seafront
Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the committee said: “Finding ways to improve access to Brighton & Hove’s shingle beaches has been challenging, but I am pleased, that working closely with our colleagues from Scope, we have been able to make real progress.
“We hope that, over the coming months, we will be able to put some of these practical measures in places and ensure that our world-famous seafront and beaches are accessible for all.”