STUDENTS from Bournemouth have teamed up with the National Trust in a bid to design ‘future proof’ beach huts at Studland, capable of withstanding violent storms.

The partnership was announced to coincide with the publication of a National Trust report calling for a clear national strategy to help coastal areas adapt to rising sea levels and extreme weather.

Dorset was battered by fierce seas and gale force winds throughout February, causing flooding and damage to coastal communities across the Daily Echo area.

At Studland, where details of the new beach hut project will be unveiled in a series of exhibitions from Monday many of the existing huts have been moved several times because of erosion.

The project, involving the Arts University Bournemouth, involves students looking to design ‘future proof’ huts that can withstand extreme weather and a constantly changing coastline.

Elli MacDonald, National Trust project manager on Studland, said: “The storms in February were a reminder of how vulnerable the Studland peninsula is to extreme weather.”

Large sections of beach were temporarily lost to the sea at Studland, earlier this year, following storms that washed tonnes of sand back into Studland Bay.

Some of the beach huts were left perilously close to the water’s edge after the footpath was washed away, said Elli.

“Beach huts have been popular with families since Victorian times and are an important part of the special character of the British coastline,” she added.

“That’s why we’re trying to find a practical solution so that these symbols of the seaside can be enjoyed by generations to come.”

Despite huts at Avon Beach, Bournemouth Beach, Sandbanks and Swanage also being extensively damaged by the recent extreme weather, beach huts remain a ‘must have’ possession for many people.

Last month 11 new huts, each with a £24,000 price tag, were snapped up in less than two working days at Gundimore Beach, near Mudeford Quay.

n The first exhibitions outlining details of the Arts University Bournemouth and National Trust ‘future proof’ huts take place, April 14-21, at Studland. Visitors can see separate exhibits, featuring design visuals, at Knoll Beach, South Beach and Middle Beach, 10am to 4pm, daily.

Adapting to change

IN the latest National Trust (NT) report, Shifting Shores – adapting to change, NT natural environment director Simon Pryor said: “There is a natural inclination to want to defend the coastline with concrete, but our coastline is dynamic and the forces of nature that have formed it are part of its beauty.

“Hard defences will always have their place, but the winter storms that hit many coastal places hard have provided a valuable reminder that they have a limited life.”

Mr Pryor stressed that where we can we need to give natural processes that have formed our coast the space to work, and create areas where the coastline can realign as the sea levels rise.

He added: “Natural habitats such as sand dunes and salt marshes can act as buffer zones that absorb the impact of storms and very high tides.”