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Locals brand George Clarke’s Dorset beach huts 'a terrible idea'

George Clarke
  • 1 Comment

Angry residents have mounted a petition against a contest organised by George Clarke’s television show Amazing Spaces for beach huts on an unspoilt Dorset coastline

The petition – which so far has 484 supporters – calls on Natural England and local Conservative councillor Vicki Hallam to block plans for a dozen new beach retreats in Highcliffe.

Backed by Christchurch Borough Council, the contest seeks proposals for ‘innovative and exciting’ holiday chalets on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) between Cliffhanger Café and Highcliffe Castle.

Twelve winning teams will receive £8,000 each to build the clifftop structures, which will be the focus of a four-part series hosted by Clarke.

Locals claim the council is ‘starstruck’ in supporting the contest and risks harming the cliffs’ natural setting.

Resident Josephine Pollen told the Guardian: ‘Just to get some publicity for a TV programme that is here today, gone tomorrow, we’re getting our cliff top ruined.

‘I feel very sad that the wild coastline is going to be destroyed – there is not a lot left and people like this particular area because it’s so natural.’

The petition’s creator Paul Clifford said: ‘We are shocked at this terrible idea, especially when the council always said Highcliffe would always be ”The Natural Part of the Area’s coastline”, and Mudeford would have tourist things no further than Steamer point.

‘This in my opinion is going to get rid of the last bit of natural coastline, outside of West Dorset’s Jurassic coastline. These huts/pods will detract from the appearance of the cliff face which is currently unspoiled by man’s interference.’

Petition signatory Hilary Smallshire added: ‘One bare mile of natural coastline left for bunnies, badgers, foxes and lots more lovely wildlife. How will these HUTS benefit Highcliffe’s economy? A few sandwiches bought from the Co-op maybe and a lot of litter left.

’We may all be a bit old, but we are not daft.’

‘Who decided on this nonsense? We may all be a bit old, but we are not daft.’

Defending the project, the council’s community and open spaces manager Matt Reeks told the Guardian: ‘If George Clarke and Channel 4 weren’t involved we’d be paying £50,000 for a hut, not £8,000.

‘Two million viewers of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces are going to hear about Highcliffe. Where else can we get marketing like that?’

The chalets are exempt from planning permission under the ‘permitted development’ rule allowing garden sheds, but will require approval from Natural England which regulates development within SSSIs.

A Natural England spokesperson told the newspaper: ‘While we’re comfortable with the idea of the development going ahead, we’re still in quite early stages of discussions with the council.’

Dorset

Dorset

Source: Image by Clive Perrin

Highcliffe

Dorset

Dorset

Source: Image by Clive Perrin

Highcliffe

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • 'The chalets are exempt from planning permission under the 'permitted development' rule allowing garden sheds' - if a development of twelve holiday chalets can be covered by this rule, it looks as if the rules need fine tuning.
    I wonder how big the associated gardens have to be to qualify for getting a shed, or are we talking about virtual gardens, given that it's an SSSI?

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