Holkham Beach Campaign Case Study
Holkham is a beach on the North Norfolk Coast. Since time immemorial, nude sunbathing has been a feature of Holkham beach, but we believe it was in the 1950s that it was formally recognised. From the 1990s to the present, Naturism was not permitted in the dunes, but the lack of notices resulted in most users not knowing that.
The Holkham Estate owns the dunes and the beach above mean high water. Below mean high water the beach belongs to The Crown Estate (therefore national property) and Natural England (the non-departmental public body of the UK government responsible for ensuring that England’s natural environment, is protected and improved) has a lease giving partial control until 2017. Annually BN met with The Holkham Estate, sometimes even Lord Coke himself, usually at BN beach days. On occasions they mentioned some problems but told us they had resolved them. There was no mention of any problems when we met them again, with the police, in Summer 2012.
The issues we faced
Out of the blue, in March 2013, the Holkham Estate told us that they were considering a ban on Naturism because of indecent activities in the dunes.
The action we took
There followed correspondence, phone calls and meetings, in which we challenged the decision, stating that problems in the dunes should be tackled in the dunes, and not that all Naturists using the beach should be made to suffer. We also queried the validity of a ban.
In June 2013, they issued a press release that a ban on Naturism on the whole beach was about to start. We immediately embarked on fact finding and information gathering but by August reasonable persuasion had not worked so we brought in the lawyers. We sent a letter, a QC prepared seven page legal master class, to The Crown Estate, as the first step in Judicial Review. We engaged one of the top firms of Human Rights solicitors…and The Crown Estate promptly lifted the ban on their part of the beach.
Not long after, we heard from Natural England with an invitation to a meeting and we sat down with them to discuss the location of the nude area at Holkham and how signs would be worded.
Success! As a result of our efforts the Holkham Estate backed down and Naturism is still permitted on the beach.