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. It is vital that we make sustainable choices now to ensure the wellbeing of our coastline in the future.


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 and they did not want the defences removed.

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

After many months of meetings and consultations with a wide range of experts, the group feel that they have found a solution.


The group want to provide a new café and toilets in a safer location at Middle Beach. During this transition period the current facilities and defences will be maintained.

After examining a number of options, in May 2017 the group identified the area adjacent to the Coombe Stream as the location which best meets the aspirations of all parties.

It has since undertaken more consultation including four public drop-in sessions and 161 surveys to try and build up a clearer picture of how the strategy could work for all users of Middle Beach.

A beach hut representative has also joined the team and we are working to ensure that beach hut owners are able to play an active role in the process.

Following these consultations, and extensive on-site surveys, the Project Group continue to believe the Coombe Stream option is the best location for the new facilities.

Over the next few months they will continue to work on the design and to engage with beach users and the wider community.

Once the new facilities are open, the failing defences will be removed, allowing the shoreline to adjust to a natural state.

More information:

Middle Beach Facilities Project FAQs (PDF / 0.9208984375MB) download

Shifting Shores at Middle Beach leaflet (PDF / 2.3798828125MB) download