The beach was closed this year because of an unsafe wall
A town council is hoping to reclassify a sandy beach as a village green so it can be reopened.
Newhaven Town Council came up with the plan after West Beach was closed by its owners, Newhaven Port and Properties, for safety reasons.
It said it was applying to East Sussex County Council to register the beach as a green and was now raising a petition.
Newhaven Port and Properties has not yet commented. The beach was closed this year because of an unsafe wall.
The council move would mean the owners would only be able to close the area in an emergency.
Councillor Judith Ost said she understood the health and safety concerns of the harbour authority.
But she added: "This is our beach. People have used it for a hundred years and more.
"They heavily resent having it taken away from them, particularly in a community that's relatively poor and doesn't have a lot in the way of amenities."
Councillor Maurice Langham said: "We're not going to paint the sand green."
But he added: "We hope that the port authority would cooperate with us."
The petition form on the town council website said: "If the application is successful it would mean that the public use of the beach is confirmed and that the owners would not be allowed to close it except in an emergency."
The council needs to prove the beach has been used for sports and pastimes such as walking, kite flying, playing and picnicking for at least 20 years, and is asking people to supply photographs as evidence.
Newhaven residents trawled through legal books to find a solution
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