Arun District Council is working on ways to improve access to Bognor Regis beach for disabled people and those with mobility issues.
One option being explored is to provide specially-designed ‘buggies’ that would be used on matting to allow people to get closer to the sea.
A second possibility is a powered shuttle service using some type of tracked machine to take passengers across the shingle.
Both these ideas would be seasonal only and would require daily management of the shingle to ensure that the route was not too steep. If either progressed, they could potentially be offered as a concession for somebody to run on behalf of the Council.
The third option being considered is to build a permanent timber ramp, which would need to be carefully designed to ensure it met all safety requirements and addressed the risk of users being cut off by the long timber groynes on the incoming tide.
The ramp would need to be around 100m long, but only jut out from the promenade by around 60m to meet with equalities guidance.
Research carried out by the Council shows a straight ramp would extend beyond the end of the groynes, so a loose zig-zag design is being explored.
Any public facility would need to consider health and safety issues and disability guidelines, maintenance and storm damage, cost to build and manage the facility, misuse and any negative impact on the coast.
Councillor Matt Stanley, Arun District Council’s Cabinet Member for Technical Services, said: “Improving access to Bognor Regis beach has been something we have all wanted to see for a long time, so I’m pleased that we’ve managed to make so much progress in laying down these different options.
“We now need to look at the feasibility of all three options and produce a detailed report to include a lifetime maintenance plan and costings to enable us to make an informed decision about how to proceed. We will also be investigating possible funding options.
“This is a conundrum many other coastal councils have been looking to solve so we hope to be able to lead the way in developing an effective method of allowing everybody to access and enjoy this fantastic beach.”
Many investigations, and several trials, have been undertaken in recent decades to try to find the best way for all to enjoy the sea.
This has resulted in decked areas being created just off the promenade onto the shingle, enabling less mobile people to get closer to the water but not providing full access.
Once the options into full access have been investigated in more detail, findings and further recommendations will be reported back to the relevant committee.