Branscombe beach rock armour bid approved by EDDC

Branscombe Beach on the Jurassic Coast

Branscombe Beach on the Jurassic Coast - Credit: Archant

A businessman’s renewed bid to extend the existing beach defences in Branscombe has been approved – despite continued concerns about the impact on the area’s World Heritage Site status.

Sea Shanty Holiday Park owner Anthony Sellick now has permission to install a further 200 metres of rock armour along the beach and to reinforce and reinstate the storm-damaged roadway serving the chalets.

His previous application to install defences was refused in April 2016 by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee by seven votes to six. More than 2,250 people had signed a petition in support of the scheme.

After feedback from Natural England, Mr Sellick cut the proposed period for the temporary defences to be in place from 25 years down to 10 – acknowledging the work may not deliver a ‘forever solution’.

This also tallies with the timing of EDDC’s shoreline management plan for the area.

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The renewed application also shifted the emphasis towards reusing existing rocks.

Natural England welcomed the reduced timescale from 25 to 10 years, but maintained that the rock armour would slow natural erosion and therefore have a damaging effect on the special cliff slope habitats the site is known for.

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It said this will impact on the statuses as a Special Area of Conservation and the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site, among others.

The World Heritage Site body itself raised no objections, subject to provision of an appropriate exit strategy for the end of the 10-year period.

Assessing the application, EDDC officers said: “A 10-year temporary permission is considered an appropriate time period for monitoring to take place and for the applicant to consider an alternative site for the chalets and beach huts.

“As such, it is considered that the monitoring and mitigation would be sufficient to satisfy the appropriate assessment requirement that there would be no likely significant impact.”

The application was approved subject to submission of an exit strategy, within six months of the rock armour’s installation, that details when it will be dismantled, how the beach would be restored and where the chalets will be relocated to.

Construction is expected to last no more than three months and the beach and car park would remain open throughout, according to the application.

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