Posted: Sep 26, 2009
A MOVE to formally designate a section of a popular beach for naturists is set to be discussed by council chiefs next week.
Hartlepool Borough Council was approached by the Three Rivers Outdoor Club earlier this summer asking for a naturist beach at the south end of Seaton Carew.
The established club, which has around 30 members, claim naturists are an "oft-misunderstood minority group" and say there are no designated beaches in the North East.
They also claim it could give the local economy a boost and in a letter to the council, group members suggested designating the section of beach adjacent to Seaton Carew Golf Club, as an ideal spot for a 'clothing optional' area.
Council chiefs have consulted with Natural England and Cleveland Police who both had concerns.
Natural England said: "Ordinary visitors using the area for exercise, recreation and education would be likely to be deterred by the presence of naturists, and by the same token undesirable voyeuristic individuals might be attracted in.
"On balance therefore, I cannot support the proposals."
Police chiefs also had concerns due to the public nature of the beach, but said they would be happy "to visit the areas and assess it for privacy."
However, other consultation feedback has been "remarkably positive and suggests a view that 'each to their own' should prevail," says the report.
John Mennear, the council's assistant director of community services, said the "tourism potential" should not be overlooked.
He added: "The close proximity to the urban environment of all Hartlepool's beaches would at first consideration suggest that this is not an acceptable use.
"However, the willingness of the group to accept the reality of some of the problems and to turn a negative into a positive would suggest that this is an issue that should be investigated further."
Councillor Victor Tumilty, portfolio holder for culture, leisure and tourism, is due to meet next week to discuss the proposal.
Coun Tumilty, who is due to meet on Tuesday, September 29, at 10am in the Civic Centre, is asked to note the report and consider taking a site visit before making a final decision.
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