PLANS are afoot to improve the South West Coast Path through west Dorset.

Natural England has published its formal proposals to improve public access to a 42-mile stretch of the world famous Jurassic Coast between Lyme Regis and Rufus Castle.

The proposals recommend significant improvements to the existing South West Coast Path route, bringing it closer to the sea in particular places and enabling it in the future to ‘roll back’ when erosion occurs using a simpler and more cost-effective process.

If approved, this will resolve the well-known and long-standing difficulties with maintaining a continuous walking route along this eroding coast.

The route would become part of the England Coast Path – the 2,700 mile-long distance walking route and England’s newest National Trail currently being developed around the entire English coast by Natural England.

This is the second stretch of the England Coast Path to be developed in Dorset, after a route between Weymouth and Lulworth was opened in 2012.

Work on the final Dorset section, from Lulworth to Christchurch will begin later this year.

Fran Davies, Natural England’s area manager for Dorset said: “We are proposing improvements to the existing South West Coast Path route which, if approved, will include additional and improved walking rights and give unparalleled views from Dorset’s well known and stunning coastline.

"We’ve worked closely with landowners, businesses and farmers on the plans and thank them warmly for their time and constructive conversations so far. It’s taken time to get the proposals to this point – we rightly have to consider the potential impacts on the protected and vibrant natural heritage of the area.”

Cllr Peter Finney, Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for environment and economy, said: “Dorset is very proud to be among the first counties in England to have a large part of its coastline dedicated to the England Coastal Path. This additional 67km will allow increased access to our beautiful and historic coastline for residents and tourists alike.

“The proposed improvements will help manage access and keep those using the coast path safe.”

There is now a period of eight weeks for legal interests and members of the public to make objections or representations, that the Secretary of State must take into account when considering whether to approve the proposals.

Anyone can make representations to Natural England about the report during the eight week period. Owners and occupiers of affected land can make objections about the report on specified grounds, which will be considered by a Planning Inspector before the Secretary of State makes a final decision.

All representations and objections must be received by Natural England no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 2.

Copies of the report can be viewed in local libraries, council offices and tourist information centres. The full report and all the forms and guidance on how to make a representation or objection within the next eight weeks are also available at


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