Beach Boardwalk

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Ease of access to the Christchurch coastline is one of the many reasons thousands of people visit every year. From Mudeford Quay in the west to Highcliffe Beach in the east, existing footpaths, promenades and tracks provide a safe and relatively level coastal route, however it cannot be classed as a direct route.

To achieve a direct route from Steamer Point wavewall to Highcliffe beach visitors are required to cross the open sandy frontage of Highcliffe Castle beach which restricts wheelchair users, young families with pushchairs and cyclists. They must must divert their route up along the clifftop by traversing Steamer Point Nature Reserve to the Highcliffe Castle grounds before descending via the zigzag footpath to bring them to the western end of Highcliffe Beach.

The proposal is therefore to provide a direct link between Steamer Point wavewall and the western end of Highcliffe Beach by constructing a raised boardwalk across Highcliffe Castle beach; thereby creating a ‘non-stop’ seafront access/cycleway along the 4.5km of Christchurch coastal vista. The boardwalk will be constructed with two ‘branches’ off the main route to facilitate wheelchair user access to the water’s edge.

To get involved and have your say please download the scoping document from our Document Library to the right of this page (or from here) and complete the Quick Poll below.

Please also feel free to ask any questions about this project in the Your Questions section below, we will endeavour to answer them as soon as we can and your input will help shape the future content of this project page.


Ease of access to the Christchurch coastline is one of the many reasons thousands of people visit every year. From Mudeford Quay in the west to Highcliffe Beach in the east, existing footpaths, promenades and tracks provide a safe and relatively level coastal route, however it cannot be classed as a direct route.

To achieve a direct route from Steamer Point wavewall to Highcliffe beach visitors are required to cross the open sandy frontage of Highcliffe Castle beach which restricts wheelchair users, young families with pushchairs and cyclists. They must must divert their route up along the clifftop by traversing Steamer Point Nature Reserve to the Highcliffe Castle grounds before descending via the zigzag footpath to bring them to the western end of Highcliffe Beach.

The proposal is therefore to provide a direct link between Steamer Point wavewall and the western end of Highcliffe Beach by constructing a raised boardwalk across Highcliffe Castle beach; thereby creating a ‘non-stop’ seafront access/cycleway along the 4.5km of Christchurch coastal vista. The boardwalk will be constructed with two ‘branches’ off the main route to facilitate wheelchair user access to the water’s edge.

To get involved and have your say please download the scoping document from our Document Library to the right of this page (or from here) and complete the Quick Poll below.

Please also feel free to ask any questions about this project in the Your Questions section below, we will endeavour to answer them as soon as we can and your input will help shape the future content of this project page.


Please feel free to ask any questions about this project in this section, it will be visible to all other registered users who may also make a comment.

We will endeavour to answer your questions as soon as we can, and your input will help shape the future content of this project page.

Your questions

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    1. Allot of cash was spent at Gundimore Beach for the olympics and it was supposed to be a dingy park but as with Avon Beach is now just beach huts for the few, was it intended that the work done and money spent would result in what we have today, could this new investment go the same way? 2. The Highcliffe zig zag is another waste of money, are we suing the original designer and construction company for what is now 'out of use' in comparison to the Bournemouth zig zags which have lasted half a century! 3. The Avon Beach car park was until recently under control the 'Avon Beach Company' (ABC) and they happily took money from the public for years even though the car park was full of pot holes and no markings, the council then took back control and the tax payer had to pay for the site to be resurfaced and lines painted, did the ABC pay anything towards this? The ABC have been expanding and expanding, they even just had an application to spread upwards refused, can you assure us that none of this funding will in anyway be used to enhance areas under ABC management, they have had quite enough from the public purse unless they tell me otherwise. This question covers both the Boardwalk and Pathway improvements, I do not want to see beach huts appear on the 'Boardwalk' 2 years from now, nor do I want to see enhancements at Avon beach that will lead to even more expansion from ABC who now have additional coffee shops and bars on previous public paths/open spaces

    mherby Asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you for your comprehensive questions, I will try to answer them as best as I can:

    1. The work to improve the access at Gundimore has made a positive benefit to our visitors who now enjoy the walk along the lower beach rather than along the sea wall, it is true that one of the intentions for improving that area was to potentially host an Olympic training camp in 2012 but the offer was not taken up. The beach huts which are now there provide a valuable source of income for the Council in order to maintain the wider beach area which everyone benefits from, however the Council has no plans to do anything similar at Highcliffe Castle Beach.
    2. The Highcliffe zig-zag was constructed by an in-house team so the Council will not be pursuing a legal claim against them for obvious reasons. There are many factors which have led to the deterioration of the structure and these cannot easily be compared to similar structures in Bournemouth, to use your example. One of the primary differences is that the Highcliffe cliffs are protected under a geological SSSI for the Bartonian Clays, which are inherently unstable, so Christchurch does not have the same engineering solutions available to it as Bournemouth does.
    3. The Avon Beach car park was taken back in-house by the Council which now receives the income that it generates, which has more than paid for the resurfacing work and line painting required. The rest of your questioning is rather off-topic for this Highcliffe Castle beach project, but we will be launching a new project page specifically for Avon Beach in the near future so please get involved with that page where a lot of your questions will be addressed.
    Thank you for taking the time to engage with us, and have your say.
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    It's a brilliant idea and potentially a great facility. I agree with the idea of one handrail on the landward side only, and the ability to hop on/off at will. I also really like the idea of a cycle track on one side. I hope the branch-off's to the water don't go down too far as it will then disturb all those people dog walking on the beach itself, and also the uninterrupted view of the beach line, which is really quite special. Thank you for a great consultation!

    PaulDJ Asked over 3 years ago

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions Paul, we will certainly take everything into account if we look at the project further during the feasibility study phase.

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    We don't need access from other areas we need slopes to allow access to the beach from the car park at the Cliffhanger. It is impossible to get to the beach in a wheelchair or with walking limitations. Also very difficult with pushchars

    Ann Phillipson Asked over 3 years ago

    Thanks for your comments Ann, we certainly try to make our beaches as accessible as possible but we are very much limited by the geological SSSI designation which prohibits us from digging into the cliff line. With these restrictions in place we unfortunately cannot make the existing pathways less steep, however we are looking to install additional handrails and other features to make it easier for those with walking limitations to access our coastline.

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    Hi, was looking over the plans for the board walk, which I think is a great idea! But what I noticed was that you had a wish list for hand rails on one if not both sides? Please people don't shoot me down for this but I think it would better to go for the low timber version with no hand rails, that way you'll be able to step off on to the sand and around if you came to a bottle neck with other people walking towards you. Also if your pushing a buggy and want to stop halfway theres no problem stepping off. But try doing that with hand rails in the way, what a nightmare. It's just something to consider.

    Dan Asked over 3 years ago

    Thanks for your comments Dan, and you make a very good point in terms of handrails. There is always a trade-off between having a structure low enough to ground level so that a handrail isn't required, versus having a structure high enough that it won't get engulfed by sand. Our engineers will consider all aspects of the project and this will no doubt be a subject of much debate, and we agree with you that a low timber version close to the ground will be workable solution and have seen several examples in the Mediterranean area where this is used. Thanks again for getting involved in the project!

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    If a boardwalk is installed how can we be confident that this will not encourage the council to use it as an access route for any future proposals to install beach huts or similar?

    Clifftop resident Asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you for your question, and we can assure you that the beach boardwalk proposal has only been suggested as a way to make access to Highcliffe Castle beach easier for those who cannot deal with soft sand and shingle, which is the predominant material mix found there. We are encouraged to make our coastal sites accessible to all, however this must be balanced against the potential aesthetic impact that such structures can have which is why we are discussing the idea on this site and really value everyone's opinion.

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    I disagree with Ziggy, where shared space is subdivided, it is rarely respected by pedestrians, so people on bikes end up having to cross, better to share the entire width. The Poole to Southbourne seafront works just fine. I'd prefer to see handrails just on one side (landward), to make it easier for people to join/leave the boardwalk. Concerned about storm damage/sand movement, this beach, as the run offshore, has always changed shape each year.

    Hadleyac Asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you for getting involved in the discussion, and we will certainly take all views into account if this project gains a majority of support and is progressed further into the feasibility study phase. This will involve a more detailed questionnaire on this website where we will fully explore what our visitors think about it, and give a voice to their concerns. We will keep everyone who has registered an interest in the project updated as your collective input will be essential for us going forward.

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    If this boardwalk is to be used by both walkers and cyclists, is it proposed to have a line down the middle to indicate who goes where or will it be a free for all? Could it not be dangerous to pedestrians and especially small children to have cyclists speeding along here?

    Ziggy Asked over 3 years ago

    Thank you for your question, and that is certainly something that our engineers will have to take into account if the project is supported in principle. We have an additional fund available for a feasibility study to be carried out and all aspects of the project, including (and especially) user safety, will be considered in that process. However we are not going to commission that work until we know we have support for the project, so please take our Quick Poll and have your say.