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The SMP Review has been undertaken by consultants

on behalf of

Durlston Bay / Studland Bay / Poole Harbour / Poole Bay / Christchurch Harbour / Christchurch Bay / Hurst Spit / Swanage Bay

Durlston Bay (DUR)

Durlston BayDurlston Head to Peveril Point

With the exception of a short length of defences protecting Durlston Cliff Flats the limestone cliffs of Durlston Bay are largely unprotected, allowing natural processes to take place along this length of coastline.  Rapid cliff recession is well documented.

Major cliff falls and slips are attributed to a combination of wave action at the toe, weathering, and water seepage through fault lines.  Limestone blocks that become detached from the cliff face during rock fall events provide the cliff toes with some protection against wave attack and provide natural sediment inputs to Durlston Bay.

The landscape along this length of coastline is of high intrinsic quality.  It is also of national and international ecological and geological importance and highly designated:

Dorset & East Devon World Heritage Site

Isle of Portland to Studland Cliffs SAC

St Albans Head to Durlston Head SAC

South Dorset Coast SSSI

West Dorset Heritage Coast

Dorset AONB

Key: AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  SAC - Special Area of Conservation.  SSSI - Site of Special Scientific Interest

The high cliffs of Durlston Head provide an ideal habitat for many birds and animals, and a great vantage point for spotting dolphins, but they also act as a barrier, preventing the transport of beach building material toward Swanage Bay to the north.

Coastal management issues here include:

  • Ensuring the protection of life and property (for example, Durlston Cliff Flats which are vulnerable to cliff erosion) while leaving the cliff face exposed in order to retain its geological interest.

  • The potential impact of any coastal defence works on inshore fisheries, offshore wrecks and the aesthetic and landscape quality of the coastline.

In SMP1 the shoreline of Durlston Bay is divided into 3 Management Units:

Process Unit






Durlston Head to Durlston Cliff Flats



Durlston Cliff Flats (cliff stabilisation)



Durlston Cliff Flats to Peveril Point

Administrative Responsibility

Purbeck District Council

Durlston Bay 1909 Purbeck District Council

Durlston Bay 2009 Purbeck District Council


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2007-2011 Poole & Christchurch Bays Coastal Group; last updated 05 August 2011

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