Mudeford Sandbank and Avon Beach to Highcliffe, spring 2021

Sand recycling on both sides of the harbour at Mudeford Sandbank (as far as Hengistbury Head) and Avon Beach to Highcliffe.


BCP Council



TBC, spring 2021


October 2020

Mudeford Sandbank

The extent of the works: beaches to be topped-up with recycled sand, ranging from Hengistbury Head Long Groyne in the west to Highcliffe in the east.

Project Overview

Occasionally beach material within Christchurch Harbour is lost as a result of ongoing natural processes and winter storms. To rectify this we will be topping-up beach levels on both sides of the harbour at Mudeford Sandbank (as far as Hengistbury Head) and Avon Beach to Highcliffe.

This will involve the re-distribution of up to 20,000 tonnes of recycled beach material which has accumulated offshore in the ebb-tide delta and nearshore bars by the harbour entrance, and within the groyne bays at Highcliffe. At low tide, the sand and coarser beach material will be excavated into dumper trucks and brought back onshore to be spread on the beaches by bulldozers. We will also be carrying out repairs to the existing rock groynes, realigning the rocks; fixing or replacing groyne beacon posts and providing additional rock armour to protect Steamer Point path.

Why the work is needed

BCP Council has a plan for managing Christchurch beaches which ensures that works to protect the coastline from erosion take place as-and-when required. Our aim is to provide a high and wide beach which is the first level of coastal defence which also protects the seawall to minimise damage to areas behind it. Redistributing the sand next spring will ensure a good level of protection is maintained. 

Access to the beaches

The beaches and access routes to them will remain open for the duration of the works. However, please be mindful that heavy machinery will be operating on the seafront and ensure you keep your distance. Dogs should be kept on a lead.

Please also be aware of your safety around wet sand stockpiled or re-distributed on the beach and avoid it where possible. The sand will take some time to dry before becoming more compact and stable underfoot. Small ‘cliffs’ may appear on the beach as wave action sorts the sand into a natural beach profile.

Start date

We anticipate the works will start after Easter 2021. 

It is estimated that the work will take between one and three weeks. As with previous coastal maintenance our contractors will work with the most suitable tide levels to access the beach materials. This could be at any time of the day, night or at weekends. Each operation cycle of extraction and placement will take approximately 5 hours. 

Environmental considerations

Hengistbury Head, Mudeford Sandbank and Christchurch Harbour have many environmental designations. Heavy machinery will use specific pathways across the sands to avoid damage to mature dunes and Marram / Lyme Grasses at the top of the beach. Additionally, rare plant species such as Sea Holly and Sea Knotgrass and plants of botanical interest will be protected by fenced-off areas.