Shifting shores at Middle Beach

Failing sea defences at Middle Beach in Studland

Project update: October 2020

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, all non-essential projects within the National Trust were stopped or deferred. In Purbeck this unfortunately included the Middle Beach Facilities Project, which is still on hold at the present time. Like so many organisations coronavirus has had a significant financial impact on the Trust, and the effects of this are likely to continue for some time.

Maintaining safe access to Middle Beach and planning for a sustainable future however remains a priority.

We are continuing to monitor erosion at the site and are currently looking to remove the old sea school building that has become at greater risk over the recent months. Not only will this make the site safer from a coastal change perspective, but it will improve access to the toilets and café facilities and enable easier social distancing in this area. As was agreed with Studland Parish Council as part of the project, we will continue to maintain the gabion baskets and ramp access to the south of the Middle Beach Café until 2025, providing they remain environmentally and physically safe to the public.

A positive to have come out this difficult year has been the recognition of the importance of protecting the natural world and making sure that everybody has access to it. We have taken this pause as an opportunity to explore more options about what the future of Middle Beach could look like and are excited to start working with stakeholders to shape this vision. If you have any questions please contact Sarah Coggins, Coastal Change Engagement Officer, at



Old maps and photographs show that beach and slope erosion have been occurring at Middle Beach for well over 100 years.

The defences have added to the problem by starving the beach of new material so that levels have dropped in recent years.

These defences are now reaching the end of their lives. Instead of rebuilding them, we want to find a new location for the café and toilet facilities at Middle Beach that is out of harm’s way.

This is part of our national policy to work wherever possible with natural processes which constantly reshape the coastline.

Removing the defences will allow the shoreline to adjust to a healthier and more natural state. This will not only benefit the natural environment, but will also create a more beautiful coastline for everyone to enjoy.

It is vital that we make sustainable choices like this now to ensure the wellbeing of our coastline in the future, particularly in the face of climate change.


The Middle Beach Café has been at the heart of Studland for generations. The community and our visitors told us that they did not want to lose the café.

In Autumn 2016 the National Trust, Studland Parish Council and the Middle Beach Action Group came together to address these concerns and formed the Middle Beach Working Group.

The group meets once a month at our Purbeck office and currently consists of representatives from Studland Parish Council, the Middle Beach Action Group, the Middle Beach beach hut community and the National Trust.


The group wants to provide a new café and toilets in a safer location at Middle Beach.

Since autumn 2016 the group has undertaken a rigorous consultation including public drop-in sessions and surveys to try and build up a clearer picture of how the strategy could work for all users of Middle Beach.

This process identified a number of options for where the new facilities could be located, some of which were later discounted as a result of feasibility studies.

In April 2019 the Middle Beach Working Group agreed to begin the detailed planning phase of a project to relocate like-for-like facilities to the north east corner of the Middle Beach car park, near the existing barbecue area.

Find out more

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Sarah Coggins, Coastal Change Engagement Officer, by email or by phone on 01929 452341.

To find out more about how we manage the coastline we care for in Purbeck, please visit our Living Coast blog.