Antigua Govt says developers cannot prevent public access to beaches

he pristine and hard to reach beach in the Rendezvous Bay in Antigua. Photo: iStock

Source: Loop Caribbean
Minister for Housing, Land, Works and Urban Renewal, Maria Browne, said private property owners are breaking the law when they prevent members of the public from having access to beaches near their land.

Browne made the comment as she responded to reports that developers at the Pearns Point luxury housing site are placing restrictions on how and when members of the public can access nearby beaches.

Browne said Section 50 of the Physical Planning Act, 2003 states that no owner, developer or occupier of land leading to a beach has the authority to prevent persons from accessing and using the beaches on Antigua and Barbuda.

Browne said the Survey and Mapping Department is establishing access boundaries for all seven beaches located near Pearns Point with official boundary marks and signage.

During this period, Browne asks that users of the beaches at Pearns Point exercise patience and collaborate with the property owners while accessing the beaches.

The minister added that the Development Control Authority and the Survey and Mapping Department have prepared a preliminary Beach Access Report which governs access and use of all beaches in Antigua and Barbuda.

The full section on Public Access and Right of Way to Beaches states:

(1) There shall be at least one public landward access to and right of way to every beach in Antigua and Barbuda.

(2) Where there is no alternative public access, traditional public use of private landward access through an existing private development shall be sufficient grounds for establishing a public right of way over that access for the purpose of access to the beach by the public.

(3) Where the only landward access to a beach is through an existing private development where traditional public use pursuant to subsection (2) of this section has not been established, the Crown may acquire the right to public use of that beach access by gift, negotiation, contract, purchase or lease, compulsory acquisition ‘in exchange for other property, interest, or financial exemption, or by such other means as the Minister may recommend, as a condition of issuance of any permit or licence required under ‘the provisions of any Act.

(4) Where land is acquired by way of compulsory acquisition for beach access the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act shall apply in respect of the such acquisition.

(5) Where a proposed development is likely to adversely affect the public’s ability to access a beach from the landward side, any development permit shall require as a condition a landward public access through the development at all times free of charge.

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