The beaches in Antigua and Barbuda remain accessible to all citizens and residents.
That’s the comment coming from Minister for Housing, Land, Works and Urban Renewal, the Hon. Maria Browne in responding to social media discussions on access to a number of beaches in Antigua and Barbuda where development is taking place.
Social media discussions suggest that persons are being blocked from entering and using beaches where development is taking place with some being granted access with limitations.
Referencing the Physical Planning Act, 2003 Section 50 (1) (2) (3) (4) and (5), Minister Marie Browne says 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.
The Act in Section 50 (1) states: ‘There shall be at least one public landward access to and right of way to every beach in Antigua and Barbuda,’ while Section 50 (2) addresses the issue of access through private property: ‘Where there is no alternative public access, traditional public use of a 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.’
The full section on Public Access and Right of Way to Beaches state as follows:
50. (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 a 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 a beach access the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act shall apply in respect of 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.
Referencing the Pearns Point development, which is at the centre of discussions on some social media platforms, Minister Browne stated that there are seven beaches within that development with one main 20-foot public right of way which runs through the private property. She said that currently the Survey and Mapping Department is establishing access boundaries for all seven beaches with official boundary marks and signage. During this period, Minister Browne asks that users of the beaches at Pearns Point exercise patience and collaborate with the property owners while accessing the beaches.
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 report is being reviewed for publication.
Report The Property Owners, ASAP. Violations Needs To Be Issued.