Friends of Highcliffe Beaches and Cliffs

About us

Friends of Highcliffe Beaches and Cliffs was founded on 7th May 2016. Our initial aim was to stop CBC building 12 large overnight Beach Retreats that were to be sited on the cliffs between Highcliffe Castle and The Cliffhanger Cafe.

We are pleased to announce this was achieved on Monday 8th August 2016 when Plum Pictures Ltd ended their agreement with Christchurch Borough Council for the beach retreat competition.

FOHBAC would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support and efforts to help put a stop to the competition.

Please note the campaign still continues to protect the SSSI cliffs at Highcliffe from any type of development being located along this beautiful piece of coastline.

Contact us

To contact us about the campaign, please email [please enable scripting to view email address]

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The Campaign

Christchurch Borough Council were proposing to site 12 overnight beach retreats on SSSI cliffs at Highcliffe. Each beach retreat would have accommodated up to 6 people to live in for a week’s holiday at a time. However the beach retreats would have no running water or mains electricity and there were no shower or toilet facilities on site.

A competition was being run by CBC who teamed up with the TV production company, Plum Pictures, Channel 4 and celebrity architect George Clarke (of programmes such as ‘Amazing Spaces’ and ‘Shed of the Year’). The competition was open to all and the winning designers were each to be given a budget of £8000, of tax payers money, to spend on material to build their “innovative and exciting” beach retreats.

The competition ended on 1st May, the winners were due to be picked on 13th May and the winning designs completed by 28th August, when the 12 designs were to be transported to Highcliffe. The installation process would have taken place during the week beginning 5th September.

CBC were and are still adamant that planning consent is not required as overnight beach retreats or day huts can be classed as having ‘permitted development rights’. This has been vigorously contested by experts and residents and we are still contesting this at the highest level.

CBC, who own the cliff face site acted with secrecy throughout. CBC’s Resources Committee agreed the proposal at their meeting on 2nd December 2015 but excluded the public and press from accessing any knowledge of what was going on and the financial implications.

Highcliffe residents only became aware of this proposal from an article in the Bournemouth Echo (online) on Wednesday 23 March featuring Councillor Vicki Hallam and CBC’s Community and Open Spaces Manager Matt Reeks with a photo of them pointing at the potential cliff face locations. However, the competition was being advertised to those in the know by Plum Pictures as early as 16th March.

The cliff face is part of a SSSI which is protected in law for its geology and CBC have been given stark warnings by a Professor of Geographical and Environmental Sciences that interference with the cliff face and drainage would give rise to significant long term risks in respect of stability and erosion.

CBC failed to answer any of our questions or respond to most emails and we, the residents, were not happy. The conclusion many of us came to was that this was the wrong location for these beach retreats and CBC should bring the proposal to an end straightaway.

The council continued to proceed with the plan until Monday 8th August when Plum Pictures served Christchurch Borough Council with notification of termination of the Agreement to run a competition for overnight beach retreats at Highcliffe cliffs.

The campaign has received tremendous support from local residents and public from further afield. We are all delighted with the outcome.

Please note the campaign continues.

At the Scrutiny and Policy Overview Committee meeting held on 19th July a Scoping Group was formed whose purpose is to investigate the project from inception to delivery.

FOHBAC have asked to be kept informed of any meetings that will be taking place and requested that we are invited to attend these meetings.

It was agreed that the findings of the Scoping Group would be presented to a Special meeting of the Scrutiny & Policy Overview Committee. We believe this is to be held on 19th September 2016.

FOHBAC understands that the council is still considering future developments at Highcliffe and this may include day huts. We intend to continue to monitor this with a view to preventing any development of this kind at Highcliffe. We feel that the Christchurch area already has an abundance of beach huts, many of which are unused even in peak summer season, offering the visitor views of rows of locked huts. Highcliffe, with its special flora and fauna and its unique geology, needs to be protected from this kind of creeping development. We at FOHBAC have many ideas of what is needed at Highcliffe to attract visitors and locals alike and we intend to continue to work, hopefully with the support of the council, to implement these.

Latest news

26 Aug 16

The FOHBAC Interest Group is now formally underway!

You will find the Group’s Constitution in the  'About' section; please have a look at the Objectives under paragraph 4. Other key points to note are, membership is open to all (see paragraph 3) and there is no membership fee (paragraph 5). 

To get the Interest Group underway the FOBAC steering group members, Nigel Brooks, Josephine Pollen and Richard Chatterton have filled the three principal offices on the Committee together with Susan Chitty and Peter Fenning. All are working tirelessly, on your behalf, to protect our beautiful coastline! 

We will be asking several notable people if they would like to join us as Patrons. 

Just to recap, the decision to have a formal Interest Group is so that we can make representations to be consulted with various bodies, not just in Christchurch, but also further afield. 

Just send us an e-mail to say you would like to be a Member of the Interest Group; that’s all you need to do for the moment! 

10 Aug 16

Council leader Ray Nottage continues with private meeting

Read more here (Bournemouth Echo)


09 Aug 16

Media Coverage

Daily Mail 9 August

Plum Pictures have said they had to discontinue the project as Christchurch Borough Council were unable to deliver the originally agreed use of the proposed site.

Article from the Daily Mail. Read the full contents here.


Have your say about the campaign

Highcliffe beach, Dorset