About the SMP

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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

Hurst Spit

Hurstt SpitManagement Unit CBY7

Hurst Spit is a shingle bank at the easternmost point of Christchurch Bay and extends 2.5km from the end of Milford beach out into the Solent.  It is an important coastal defence, protecting the Western Solent from flooding and sheltering the designated area of saltmarsh to the north (along the boundary with the North Solent SMP). 

Although originally formed by natural processes, Hurst Spit is now maintained by regular shingle recycling operations. The Spit has been declining in volume, probably since the 1940's when coast protection works in Christchurch Bay first began to interrupt movement of the shingle that maintains its stability. 

The reduction in sediment supply led to several breaches and in 1996 major work was undertaken to replenish the spit with shingle and to construct a rock breakwater and new rock revetment and current management includes regular shingle replenishment and monitoring.

Saltmarshes to the north of the spit are also eroding, with the seaward edge eroding at up to 3m/year.

Designations include:

Solent & Southampton Water Ramsar Site

Solent Maritime SAC

Solent & Southampton Water SAC


SAC - Special Area of Conservation.

Hurst Castle, built between 1541-1544, is a Scheduled Monument, the principal historic feature of the Spit and a popular destination for visitors, as is the beach.  It also represents the eastern boundary of this SMP.

Coastal management issues here include:

  • Ensuring future coastal protection works impact less on sediment supply and thus reduce the risk of breaches

  • Restoration of the natural accretion of shingle and protection of shingle habitats

  • Protection of the saltmarsh

Administrative Responsibility

New Forest District Council

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

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