Shifting shores at Middle Beach

Failing sea defences at Middle Beach in Studland

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.


This project will be carried out in phases. The first phase of the project will include building the new café and toilet facilities and remodelling the car park. During this time the existing facilities will remain open. No work will start on site until winter 2019/20 at the earliest.

The second phase will include the demolition of the existing facilitates and the removal of the failing sea defences on which they sit.  While the timeline for the project is still being developed, this is not likely to commence until autumn 2021.

As part of the agreement with Studland Parish Council, the National Trust will maintain the slipway and the sea defences to the south of the existing café until 2025, providing they remain environmentally and physically safe to the public.

As a more detailed design and timeline develops we will update this article.

Find out more

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Sarah Spinney, 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.