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Branscombe chalet owners fear for tourist trade

Thursday, 06 March 2014

OWNERS of the storm-lashed Branscombe beach chalets have expressed fears for the impact on the Easter and summer tourism trade.
For the past three weeks local contractors, including Terry Flay and local fisherman John Hughes, have been working non-stop to repair the damage done to the sea defences and the access track to the chalets which open up onto the sea front facing Lyme Bay along the west side of the beach.
The damage was extensive with the track all but washed away and the boulders that formed the original defence scattered like pebbles cross the beach.
Initial work has allowed access for the repair team and the owners to check their properties but Nick Houlgate, speaking on behalf of the owners of the 13 chalets, said progress was being hampered by bureaucracy and that could have a detrimental effect on the holiday season.
Me Houlgate said: “All these chalets are let during the summer so if there is no proper access by then those tourists will not be coming,” said Mr Houlgate.
“That is bound to have a knock-on effect for the Sea Shanty café and other local businesses like the pubs – The Masons Arms and The Fountain Head – and so on.
“It really depends on what Natural England say. They have jurisdiction here as this is a World Heritage Site and part of the Jurassic Coast and they are saying that new materials cannot be brought onto the beach.
“On the other hand the beach area comes under the National Trust jurisdiction and to date they have been saying that no materials can be used from the beach.
“All we want to do is restore the access and the sea defence to what it was originally, nothing more than that.”
The chalet owners are paying the contractors out of their pockets for the current work but they need a long-term decision from Natural England to ensure the future of the properties.
“These guys have been working like Trojans but these repairs are only temporary,” added Mr Houlgate.
“If we cannot rebuild, where are we going? “At least the 13 charming cedar wood chalets on the west beach are still standing and habitable.
“The foundations of the five chalets on east beach have been so seriously eroded that there must be a huge question mark as to whether they will be ever used again.”

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