West Lulworth

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News - 2013


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The following message was posted on this website on 4 February 2013:

Lulworth Cove, Dorset. The development proposal includes converting a toilet block into a bistro with a rooftop terrace and kiosk. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

A "major development" could jeopardise the distinctive nature and feel of one of the gems of the British coastline, residents and experts have warned.

Plans have been submitted by the private estate that owns much of the land around Lulworth Cove in Dorset to provide more eating spots and remodel open spaces including the beach.

The Lulworth estate, owned by the Weld family since the 17th century, argues that the development will improve the area for the half a million people who visit each year, and will create job opportunities.

But some locals are worried that the upgrade will make the cove, part of the Unesco-designated world heritage coast, too commercial. Concerns have also been expressed that changes to sea defences could alter the character of the horseshoe-shaped cove, perhaps even putting its world heritage status at risk.

Some are upset that the development is not going to be debated by the district council's planning board, because it is considered a "designated" project which can be decided by officers rather than elected members.

The scheme includes converting a toilet block into a bistro with a rooftop terrace and kiosk, renovating the beachside cafe to turn it into a "destination location" with decking, and transforming a shed into a crab shack or barbecue area. On the beach, the plan is to erect a sea defence wall from timber sleepers, which can be moved as the water erodes the sand.

The parish council, West Lulworth, has written to Purbeck district council objecting to the scheme, describing it as a "major development" and warning: "This coast is a world heritage site and any plans for improvements should conserve the character of this area."

One resident, David Kirby, said the area around the cove was overdue for improvement, but the proposal was too big. He said: "The cove is a unique location of interest to everyone in the country. Indeed, its world-heritage status makes it of legitimate interest to the international community."

It would be "anomalous" if the proposal was determined by delegated powers rather than being debated in the open by councillors, he added.

Other villagers have written to the district council expressing their reservations. Yvonne Adams said: "It does not need a suburban makeover just for coach trippers. The changes proposed are not in keeping with the nature of the place."

Felicity Redman wrote: "I believe the plans place too much emphasis on commercialism and not enough on the importance of conserving and enhancing the character, natural environment and heritage of the area."

Experts have also raised concerns. Richard Edmonds, earth science manager at the Dorset and east Devon coast world heritage site team, said the proposed sea defence could change the "detailed character of the beach".

Mike Goater, Purbeck council's district engineer, said he was concerned about the siting of the decking beneath a "potentially unstable" cliff. He added: "Consideration needs to be given to these risks and whether these can be satisfactorily mitigated to allow this area to be used for seating over the lifetime of the development."

James Weld of the Lulworth estate claimed many local people had misread the plans. There were no new buildings – existing ones were being developed. The beachside cafe was being slightly expanded; the beach was being improved by removing concrete defences and replacing them with more sustainable timber sleepers, he said. He disagreed that the nature of the beach would be changed, and said nobody would be at risk.

Weld said the estate would do nothing to jeopardise the world heritage status of the coast. The family had owned five miles of the coast for 370 years and had not developed it. "People seem to be viewing this is a huge development. It's not. We're not proposing some urban, commercial development. We wouldn't want that," he said.

A Purbeck council spokesperson said the responses submitted by members of the public and other organisations were being examined.

The Guardian - Sunday 13 January 2013

Lulworth Cove development risks world heritage status, say campaigners

by Stephen Morris

Residents express alarm over plans to widen restaurant and renovate beach along Unesco-designated Dorset cove

Happy 85th Birthday

Our congratulations to

Des Jones 85 years young on 4 Feb 2013 and a founder member of our new West Lulworth facebook group