PLANS to build four levels of beach huts below a Swanage hotel have been refused by district planning chiefs.

The owners of the Pines Hotel, Burlington Road, wanted to build 45 huts on stepped terraces on the cliff side overlooking Swanage Bay.

Members of Purbeck District Council’s planning committee turned down the planning application. While they did not object to the principle of development at the site, they opposed the “amount and scale” of the huts.

A report compiled by planning case officer Anthony Bird recommended to refuse permission for the scheme. One of the report's conclusions was the scheme would have an "unacceptable" impact on the character of the area.

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

Pines Hotel owner John Puddepha said previously that 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,” he said.

The proposed huts would have been 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.

While Swanage Town Council offered no objection to the scheme in principle, 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 were also raised by nearby residents.

In his report, Mr Bird concluded: "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."