Visitors will not be able to use the zig zag path running from Highcliffe Castle grounds down to Highcliffe Castle beach, which was closed following a structural inspection by an independent consultant engineer, for longer than originally thought.
Following engineering surveys it has been discovered that the only way to make the retaining wall next to the path safe would entail access requiring some trees, with protection orders on them, to be felled.
Engineers now need to apply for permission to fell the trees from the council’s Planning Control Committee. This could take up to eight weeks.
In the meantime, as recommended by the consultant engineer who assessed the risk to the public, the path will need to remain closed.
Jonathan Ross, Property & Engineering Manager at Christchurch Council, said: “Having assessed the work required it would seem that the only way we can gain access to fix the problem would require the removal of some trees.
“Although we had hoped to be able to get a quick solution to the problem which would have meant us opening the path sooner, it would seem that, in order for us to go through the necessary processes, it will take a bit longer. We would like to apologise to anyone inconvenienced by this closure.
“We would also like to reiterate that the path is closed for a reason so anyone jumping over the fence to use the path is putting themselves in danger.”
A possible solution to create a new path to cut across the old one has been discounted as it would be too steep for disabled access and too costly to create for a short-term gain.
Whilst the application to fell the trees is being considered as part of the temporary solution, we will continue to carry out the necessary design work and tendering process which will allow the longer term solution to be implemented during the winter.
There are steps down to the beach further along the cliff top to the right of the zig zag. Other car parks with sloping access to the beach can be found at Highcliffe cliff top by the Cliffhanger Cafe and at Friars Cliff.