Major step forward taken to bring back 'golden sands' to Hoylake beach

Wirral Council stopped management of Hoylake Beach back in 2019.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A major step forward has been taken by campaigners hoping to bring ‘golden sands’ back to Hoylake Beach.

An application for a village green was submitted earlier this year by those campaigning to see vegetation cleared from a section of the beach in the hope that making it a public leisure space will help their case.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A village green allows sports and recreation activities to take place in an area including games, picnics, dog walks and community events. People are now being asked to give their opinion on the plans.

It also prevents an area of land being developed as well as stopping anyone disturbing, occupying, or interfering with the soil “other than for the purpose of the better enjoyment of that green.” However as the beach is a site of special scientific interest, this means it is currently protected from a number of activities or developments.

The law also prohibits animals being taken onto the green but Wirral Council said dog walking would be allowed but horse riding might be allowed.

Wirral Council stopped management of the beach in 2019 following an uproar over the use of the pesticide glyphosate and since then vegetation has spread across the sand. The issue has become incredibly divisive with some referring to it as a civil war and toxic at times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The village green application was supported by all three Conservative councillors for Hoylake who have strongly campaigned to see an area of vegetation cleared from the lifeboat station in the seaside to the King’s Gap slipway. However those in favour of the vegetation staying have argued that as an area protected under international law, a village green application would do little to change the status of the beach.

Wirral Council, the beach’s landowner, is currently carrying out a six week consultation until January 28 which will then be reviewed by the council and an independent inspector who will then make a recommendation to the council. The council will then make a final decision on the village green proposal.

Access to the beach has been a recurring issue in the debate about its future with some claiming the vegetation now makes it harder to walk or not venture onto the beach at all.

Hoylake councillor Andrew Gardner said: “It wouldn’t offer any protection of vegetation or sand. What is gives protection to is the right of the people of Hoylake to do what they have always done in that area. It’s a very powerful piece of legislation.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The term village green has confused some but Cllr Gardner said it was just down to legislation, adding: “If we could call it village sands, we would but we can’t. We have to call it a village green application. You have to look at it not as what’s on the floor but what you can do on the ground.”

In 2012, a UK High Court judge declared beaches can become village greens but applications can sometimes get caught up in lengthy legal battles. Newhaven Beach, owned by Newhaven Port and Properties, was closed off in 2008 but an application for a village green was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Jane Turner, Wirral’s Green Party chair, said she doesn’t oppose an application but believes international environmental regulations would overrule any village green legislation.

She previously said: “It doesn’t change anything. If it came into being it would prevent a landowner from stopping access to a beach but that is not going to happen. I don’t think it makes any difference at all.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“My personal position is that the beach is defined as the intertidal zone which is currently seaward of the “green beach” and we should be entirely supportive of efforts to secure access to the beach without damaging the previous habitat that has formed.”

The village green application is separate to the beach management plan currently being developed by Wirral Council which will determine what happens to the plants on the beach. The local authority said it expects an update to be given in 2024 but no specifics have been given at this stage.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.