Christchurch Beach Recycling and Rock Groyne Repairs, May 2021

Recycling existing beach material to adjust levels at Avon, Friars Cliff and Highcliffe beaches, carrying out repairs to the existing rock groynes across the Christchurch frontage, and placing additional rock armour to reinforce the Steamer Point path.


BCP Council



From 4th May 2021


April 2021

Mudeford Sandbank

Project Overview

Beach Recycling – Beach levels will be topped-up by recycling local material from areas which have built-up and re-distributing it westward. This will take place at:

  • Four groyne bays between Avon and Friars Cliff beaches, where material will be recycled from Highcliffe beach,
  • Highcliffe beach, where material will be recycled from Highcliffe’s eastern groyne bays.

Rock groyne repairs – Works to existing rock groynes across all beaches from Mudeford Sandbank and Avon beach to Highcliffe includes:

  • Realigning and re-shaping existing groynes using as much reclaimed rock armour as possible. Some rocks have been displaced by wave action in recent years.
  • Fixing or replacing groyne beacon posts which are aids to navigation.

Steamer Point path – We will reinforce the path with additional rock armour.

The eastern end of Highcliffe beach (under Cliffhanger Café) will be used to store all the additional Portland limestone rock armour needed for the rock groyne and path repairs.

The extent of the works: beaches range from Hengistbury Head Long Groyne in the west to Highcliffe in the east.

Why the work is needed

BCP Council monitors beach levels across our entire frontage. These works will help ensure that Christchurch beaches are protected from erosion by the sea. Our aim is to provide a high and wide beach which is the first level of coastal defence and protects the seawall, which in turn protects the areas behind. Redistributing the beach material will ensure a good level of protection is maintained and works together with the groynes (sediment retaining structures) and other defences.

Duration of the works

Our contractor will start to mobilise on site and set up their temporary compound areas from 4th May. It is estimated that this maintenance work will take up to six weeks, three weeks on the Highcliffe to Avon Beach areas and three weeks at Mudeford Sandbank. As with previous coastal maintenance, they will work with the most suitable tide levels to carry out the works. This could be at any time of the day, night or at weekends.

Access to the beaches and safety

The promenade, beaches and access routes will remain open for the duration of the works. However, please be aware that heavy machinery such as dumper trucks and bulldozers will be operating on the seafront and will be using agreed routes to avoid damage to mature dunes at the top of the beach. Please ensure that you keep your distance and keep dogs on leads in the vicinity of the work. Please also be mindful of your safety around stockpiled or re-distributed beach material. If it is wet, the sand will take a short time to dry before becoming more compact and stable underfoot. ‘Cliffing’ may appear on the beach as wave action sorts the sand into a natural beach profile.

Monitoring beach volumes from Mudeford to Highcliffe

Occasionally beach material within Christchurch Bay is lost because of ongoing natural processes and winter storms. We carefully monitor the beach levels to ensure they provide the required level of coast protection. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, we had originally anticipated that beach levels on both sides of the harbour at Mudeford Sandbank (as far as Hengistbury Head) and Avon Beach to Highcliffe would require topping-up. This would have involved the recycling and re-distribution of beach material from the offshore sand bars. 

However, our latest survey analysis indicates that Mudeford Sandbank’s overall beach volume has increased since July 2019 and has remained quite stable since monitoring began in 2003. This means that in 2021 we do not need to top-up the Sandbank’s beach levels but we will continue to monitor levels closely. The beach levels from Christchurch harbour entrance to the boundary with Chewton Bunny have also seen an overall net increase in volume since 2003.