Is there enough information for people with disabilities, to enable them to work out whether or not different routes would be accessible to them? For example, the best route down to the shore in a wheelchair is presumably the tarmac path sweeping down to Chewton Bunny – but the finger post at the top of the path just says ‘public footpath’.
Thank you for making this suggestion, it is a very good point and our team are currently working on a signage audit for all our coastal sites so we will ensure that this is taken into account. The Equalities Act 2010 places an expectation upon Councils to make provision easier access, however this is not always possible along the coastline due to the geography of the land. Unfortunately the tarmac roadway leading down through Chewton Bunny does not meet the gradient requirement to be classified as wheelchair friendly, which is why it is signposted as "public footpath". However the zig-zag path at Highcliffe Castle does meet that requirement, so we can certainly look to make improvements to the signage in that area.
Does CBC have a long-term vision for the Highcliffe beach area? I suggest such a vision should 1) preserve the undeveloped natural foreshore (with some areas that are a bit harder to reach), 2) enable people to enjoy it (focusing on access points from car parks and footpaths) and 3) maximise the economic benefits to Highcliffe from visitors.
Thank you for your question, and yes the Council is currently working to put together an overall plan for the beaches. Part of that process will be taking into account the views of our visitors, and any engagement that we have through this website is intended to support those views so please get involved with our Quick Polls and Mapping Tool if you haven't done so already. As the plan is developed we will be on here asking more questions, and we will endeavour to keep you all informed through a regular email newsletter.
Why in recent years have steps been removed and gravel slopes replace them. After heavy rain these become gutted and uneven as well as muddy, not helped by bicycle tyres increasing this problem! Also demographically the predominantly older local users find them difficult and wheelchair users find them impassable.
Thank you for you question, our engineers have been looking at this issue and are keen to make some changes to some of the pathways including the reinstallation of steps where appropriate. Unfortunately steps do require a significant amount of maintenance and are sometimes vandalised, and so this makes flat pathways more attractive but we agree that in certain places, such as the first slope as you head down to the beach from the café, the combination of water runoff and bicycle use means that a better solution is required.
Have the Council thought about how difficult and dangerous the steep grave slope from the Chewton Bunny Nature Reserve down to the sea is? When wet it gets very slippery, heavy rain creates deep furrows in the gravel and there is only a rail on one side to hold on to. Elderly people and families with push chairs find this extremely difficult and wheelchair users must find it impossible!
Thank you for your question, and the answer is yes! Our engineers have been looking at the possibility of installing additional handrails at key sites along Highcliffe Beach to improve access for all, so it is great to hear that you also feel that would make an improvement. Please utilise our mapping tool if you haven't done so already, your 'pins' and comments are really important to us when planning our work schedule.
With only £33k to spend, is it possible that further funds may be made available? Each of the paths and all of the steps could do with maintenance at the very least. And, please, please, may we have the Colmore steps back?
Thank you for your question, we currently have £33k allocated from the original £50k award towards physical improvements on the site, but this could increase depending on whether there is support for other project ideas or not. For example, the 'Beach Boardwalk' project currently has £5k allocated to it as a potential feasibility study fund but if that does not prove to be popular then that money can be re-allocated towards other physical improvements. Bids for larger sums of money, such as the replacement of Culmore Steps, can be submitted to the Council in the autumn through the Capital Bidding process although at present there isn't a suitable design which meets all the legal requirements for their reinstatement.
I feel that as a number of residents and potential consultees do not have access to the internet/are able to use the mapping tool provided.
This consultation could be provided by putting in adverts in local newpapers and flyers (e.g. Highcliffe Forum/Friars Cliff) and then providing a postal address for return correspondence.
Thank you for your question, we are looking at ways to be able to capture the views of those who do not have access to the internet although please bear in mind that this project is linked to the Government's 'Digital By Default' initiative and so we are recommended to keep the process online only, and encouraged to make the internet more accessible for those that don't currently have it. We will keep everyone updated on this issue.