RESIDENTS have given their views on plans to rebuild the Highcliffe zig-zag.

Two public consultation sessions were held by the Dorset Coast Forum, which is behind the plans, one at Highcliffe castle and a second at the Greystones Centre.

The zig-zag was closed in March after serious safety concerns were raised, with the wooden piling beneath the path reportedly at risk of imminent failure.

Sophie Franks, policy assistant at the forum, said: "We had 96 people attend the session on Thursday at Highcliffe Castle, and a similar number at Saturday’s session at Greystones.

"Those who attended were able to view and comment on the design plans for the zig-zag path.

"We were asking people to give input on seating along the path, whether they would like to see a hand rail on one or both sides, what materials they would like to see used for the surface, handrails and cladding, as well as what interpretive theme they would like to see along the path.

"We brought along samples of the different materials for people to have a look at."

Themes suggested for the path include local human stories, natural history and geology.

Project co-ordinator Natalie Poulter has said the "huge engineering project" will require specialist design work, and will incorporate improved access for the disabled.

She said the forum is keen to ensure "the look and feel is right for the location and suits those who use it".

The project is part of Dorset Coastal Connections, a £5.6 million portfolio of projects along Dorset’s coastline, which has allocated £280,000 towards the reconstruction of the path. In addition, Christchurch Borough Council has set aside funds of £350,000 towards the remaining cost of the rebuild.

The project is subject to the usual planning process and, with construction likely to take up to six months, the scheme is due to be completed and the path reopened to the public in time for Easter 2018.