Work starts soon in West Sussex on part of a new coastal path which, when completed, will be the longest coastal trail in the world, according to West Sussex County Council.
The England Coast Path is being developed by Natural England, in partnership with local access authorities, including West Sussex County Council. The 2,795-mile route is being opened in sections but will, when finished, follow the entire coast of England.
In West Sussex, a short section of the England Coast Path is open in Shoreham-by-Sea. Now, initial work on the next stretch – from East Head to Shoreham-by-Sea – is scheduled to start this month and is likely to take until Spring 2023 to complete. The remaining West Sussex stretch, from South Hayling to East Head, is awaiting the Secretary of State’s approval.
The works are fully funded by a central Government grant and will include installing new signage, some path surfacing improvements, replacing stiles with gates and replacing steps. All the infrastructure has been agreed between Natural England, the County Council and the affected landowners/land managers.
The development of the new coastal trail dovetails perfectly with the County Council’s ongoing efforts to encourage active travel and to help bolster the visitor economy by attracting even more people to the West Sussex coastline and help local businesses, such as shops, hotels, and pubs.
For the first time, people will have the right of access around all our open coast once the England Coast Path is complete. As well as a long-distance walking route, there will often be a ‘coastal margin’, usually seaward of the trail, where people can explore more widely if they wish, relax, and admire the view, said the council.
If the path’s route is affected in the future by coastal changes, such as erosion, the new arrangements allow for it to be “rolled back” in a sensible way – future-proofing, as far as possible, people’s rights to walk along the coast.
Where existing rights of way along the coast meet the need, they are adopted as part of the England Coast Path (existing rights are not removed), but new sections of trail are created where necessary to join up a continuous route. Houses and gardens remain private, major ports and industry are respected, and appropriate protections are built in from the outset for sensitive species and habitats.