DISTRICT planning chiefs are set to consider proposals to build 45 beach huts below a Swanage hotel.

The owners of the Pines Hotel, Burlington Road, want to build the huts on stepped terraces on the cliff side overlooking Swanage Bay.

Following a number of landslides, the cliffs have undergone extensive stabilisation works. Indeed, this challenging engineering project - to safeguard the hotel from future collapses - was recently recognised with a national award.

In a report compiled by planning case officer Anthony Bird, to be circulated to Purbeck District Council (PDC) planning committee members, the recommendation is to refuse permission for the scheme.

One of the report's conclusions is the scheme would have an "unacceptable" impact on the character of the area.

Pines Hotel owner John Puddepha said: "The plans would open this end of Swanage to more tourism opportunities.

"Forty-five huts would mean quite a lot of people coming into the town, possibly from outside the area, who might stay overnight."

The huts proposed would be built over four levels, with 18 at promenade level, 13 at level two, 11 at level three, and three units with a roof terrace on the top level.

Swanage Town Council has offered no objection to the scheme in principle, but Natural England, the Jurassic Coast Trust and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty landscape planning officer all recorded objections.

Some concerns about possible noise disturbance and parking issues have also been raised by nearby residents.

In his report, Mr Bird concludes: "It is considered that the beach huts, by virtue of their overall scale, form and location, would cause significant harm to the landscape character and amenity of this part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the setting of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage site.

"It would add an unnatural landscape feature and extend the built form along the coast. This results in demonstrable harm to the distinctive landscape qualities of the locality."

PDC planning board will consider the plans at a meeting scheduled for Westport House, Worgret Road, on Wednesday. (OCT 25)