AN expert on coastal geology told councillors the best use for the Highcliffe coastline was to "leave it alone".

Vincent May, a professor of coastal geomorphology and conservation, spoke at Christchurch council's special scrutiny meeting on Tuesday night.

Members of the committee have been tasked to investigate the decision-making process around the failed scheme to build overnight beach retreats at Highcliffe as part of a TV competition.

Professor May became involved when he was invited to be part of the Local Government Challenge back in January, where he was asked to explain the geology of the cliffs and site.

"I learnt later that contestants had looked at the idea of beach huts but I was not able to go the afternoon session, so was not involved", he added.

The Local Government Challenge was hosted by Christchurch and saw 10 local government officers take part in an event at Highcliffe Castle.

Contestants were asked to develop a series of proposals to revive Highcliffe beach, with the winning team suggesting 'sleek new beach huts.'

On the judging panel was Will Daws, managing director of Plum Pictures as well as council chief executive, David McIntosh and leader, Ray Nottage.

At the time, the council said some of the ideas may be considered by their community and recreation team.

Asked by Cllr Denise Jones, what he thought was the best use for this coastline, Professor May added: " I think the best use is to leave it alone.

"There are some really important stories we can tell about it which could entice people into the area.

"There is scope for establishing a visitor centre to tell the story.

"It is because we're keeping it as it is and maintaining it, that people are able to enjoy it.

"It is something which stands out as different from the rest of the coast; making use of the fact that it is an incredible and attractive and unchanging piece of the coastline."