Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Eype Beach to be sold. Possible price: £1 (UPDATED)

Eype's Mouth Dorset Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site photo by Sarah Charlesworth creative commons licence

As part of the World Heritage Site of Dorset and East Devon, Eype Beach is judged by UNESCO to be of "universal value". But, in monetary terms, its value to West Dorset District Council is £1. Photo by Sarah Charlesworth, reused under Creative Commons Licence.

EYPE BEACH near Bridport – part of Dorset’s world-famous Jurassic Coast – is to be sold by West Dorset District Council.

The beach’s value is reckoned by the council to be £1.

“Anticipated proceeds” from the sale of Eype Beach are also officially recorded as £1.

(Click on this link to see a list of properties – including Eype Beach – that West Dorset District Council hopes to sell, with prices.)

The beach was first bought by the Borough of Bridport in 1932 to protect it from gravel extraction. It was inherited by West Dorset District Council when that came into existence in 1974.

So, could you or I really now buy a Dorset beach for £1? It is possible that more would have to be paid.

In response to a query from Real West Dorset, a council spokesperson said: “As part of its Asset Management Plan, West Dorset District Council’s technical services team has conducted a general review of the council’s property assets.

“Reviews such as this ensure that the council adopts a strategic approach to managing its property and is prudent given the current economic climate.

“Eype Beach does not provide an income to the council but the property does have associated management costs and legal liabilities. The report therefore concludes that there is no reason why the council should continue to own it and recommends that it is sold.

“The lack of income generated by the beach accounts for the low asset value recorded in the report. However, this is not an indication of what a buyer may pay for the property.

“The council has an obligation to its council tax payers to get the best return it can from its assets and the capital obtained from the sale of property pays for the capital investments that the council makes into the local community.”

The proposed sale of Eype Beach is part of a series of property disposals that West Dorset District Council hopes will bring in £1.5 million.

That’s aside from the millions expected to accrue from the sale in Dorchester of Stratton House (anticipated proceeds, £3 million), Glyde Path House (£500,000), the frontage of Trinity Street car park (£114,000) and the long lease of Charles Street car park (judged with the Old Market car park to be worth £1,579,211).

Click here to read an extraordinary account of a walk on Eype beach.

UPDATED: The artist Amanda Wallwork has pointed out that West Dorset District Council’s executive committee did resolve to give the council’s technical services manager approval to dispose of a long list of property “in acordance with the council’s disposal policy”. The only proviso with regard to Eype Beach – and land at West Cliff & Great Piece, West Bay – was that specialist auctioneers should be sought.

The statement below was put out by West Dorset District Council on January 11.

- In response to strong media interest in a council report in which Eype beach was included on a list of properties to be considered for sale, West Dorset District Council has released the following statement.

Speaking about Eype beach, West Dorset District Council Leader Robert Gould said:

“This land was acquired by the local council many years ago in order to protect it against gravel extraction. The land is not being sold at the moment, but we will be taking specialist advice before deciding how to proceed.

“It is good practice for public organisations to regularly review the assets they hold on behalf of the public.

“Eype beach does not currently provide an income to the council, but the land has associated management costs and legal liabilities. This is why a nominal value of £1 has been recorded in the council’s asset management plan. Clearly this is not an indication of what a buyer may expect to pay for the land – it is a nominal figure only.

“Eype beach is part of the Jurassic Coast world heritage site and a popular beauty spot. It is loved by many local people and visitors alike.

“If the council did decide to sell the land it would want to ensure future public access and responsible management of this important land.”

At this time West Dorset District Council  has only one property for sale. The Tannery Road site in Bridport consists of four shops and a café. (Click here to read about the sale of the Cafe Royal). The site is to be sold by public auction 25 February 2011 and the selling agents are Symonds & Sampson.

Contact details for Symonds & Sampson: 23 South Street, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 3NU – Tel 01308 422092

People interested in this matter are advised that West Dorset District Council are unable to offer any further information at present. Media enquiries and requests from members of the public will be met with the statement provided above.

32 Responses to “Eype Beach to be sold. Possible price: £1 (UPDATED)”

  1. Dylan Reisenberger

    Is it possible to provide a link to a part of the council website that announces or discusses the process by which these will be sold? Many thanks

    • Jonathan Hudston

      In response to Dylan Reisenberger – Please click on the third paragraph for a list of everything that going’s to go up for sale. I’ll see if can I add any other links. It’s still fairly early days for quite a lot of the property listed.

      Good to see other people so keen. I always thought £1 was on the low side!

  2. John Warnecke

    The comments on here seem to be flippant.
    The beach should be public property for everyone to use. Is the Council Tax people pay not an income?
    Seems to me the truth is the council are misusing the money received in the council tax. Sounds like bad management to me.
    Still that is not unusual no matter where you go, judging from the prats you get on councils. Our local council could not organise a party in a brewery.

  3. jon

    OMG !! John Warnecke You’ve been offended by flippant remarks ?
    I have a feeling that either you were hoping to get the beach for £1 and are annoyed at all the interest. or you really are as dull and miserable as you sound. Now wake up, and take a walk on the sunny side of the street……and put in a bid of £21, it’s just a bit of FUN.

  4. Rachel Burnett

    Apart from public liability insurance, what associated costs/liabilities are there?
    I’d love to own a share of this magical beach!

  5. sam

    i will offer 100 quid and my girlfriend for the beach

    • Jonathan Hudston

      Sam – is that ok with your girlfriend?

      Rachel Burnett – I’ll ask tomorrow more about costs and liabilities. I put several questions to the council before. It came back with the response that’s in the story above. The whole business still seems rather unreal to me, but that’s what the document says: Eype Beach, £1.

      Although, as we’ve seen, the bidding has now gone beyond that :)

  6. Helen

    So where, when and how are these various places and assets going to be sold ???? What is the deadline and are there contact numbers for official bids etc. I originally came from that area but live away now. I would love to own a little bit of my old county…..but somebody tell me how ?? !!

  7. sam

    Well i think it is haha i want to buy the beach only if global warming hurries up so i can start hotel business there where people want to sunbathe and go on holiday!


    PS i won’t only pay 100 quid and throw my girlfriend in i will also let you have my dog and a £4.50 off tesco voucher lol

  8. David

    I think you are all missing the point, apart from John Warnecke. If a private investor buys it, they have the right to close it to the public. That means the two caravan and camping sites that overlook the beach may not have access. That would certainly mean a drop in tourism.

    The whole point of visiting Eype is that you can walk down to the beach in a few minutes. It’s not touched by amusement arcades or other tacky seaside shops. It’s a beautiful beach, quiet and untouched. If it is sold, it’s a crime. What next? Let’s flog off Stonehenge!

  9. Chris Land

    Hey Jonathan Hudston,

    Could you let me know what the mentioned costs and liabilities are in relation to this, and how the official bidding process actually takes place (or is this message board the official bidding process?).

    Totally agree with what David has said – to be able to be given the opportunity to buy such a beach – it should be to safeguard the future of the beach for the public to enjoy for generations to come. I think that is paramount, and hence it shouldn’t become private or some commercial venture…

    • Jonathan Hudston

      Chris, er no – this messageboard is certainly not the official bidding process. The proposed sale of Eype Beach was simply something that I noticed and thought worth reporting, as nobody else had.

      There’s been talk elsewhere (on Twitter and on Facebook) about the National Trust perhaps buying it. The Trust owns lots of other land between Bridport and Lyme Regis. I’d be very surprised if West Dorset Leisure Holidays, who run the caravan park at Highland’s End in Eype, weren’t also interested.

      I don’t know how exactly the sale is going to be managed. It may be that the council doesn’t, yet.

      At least one other holding in Bridport is going to be auctioned next month. I’m going to post something about that in the morning.

      Thank you to everyone who has commented so far. I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts – and bids!

  10. Bill

    Depending on liabilities and legalities I’ll start the sensible bidding at £1,000.

  11. Alan

    It’s the same everywhere. Councils spending £millions on new offices then selling off property which once gone no longer generates income.
    The land beneath our feet DOES NOT belong to the councils, they only look after it for the people of this country to enjoy from time to time

  12. Eype Beach

    Put me on e-bay and see how much I raise!

    * Access to general public must be preserved,
    * Listed as part of Jurassic Coast, development restrictions probably apply.
    * Good for walking and, um, other beach associated activities.


  13. joan greg

    I think everyone has got it wrong the beach is not for sale at the moment.
    IF it were to be sold in the future public access would still be allowed and whoever bought it would have to manage it responsibly.
    The £1 is only the worth to the council on their assets list.

    • Jonathan Hudston

      Joan – yes, I’ve seen various other websites and papers say it’s for sale, but it is not for sale at the moment.
      However, the council’s executive committee did agree that it should be sold on the open market.
      The only proviso that councillors made when they agreed this was that specialist auctioneers should be used.
      If they’ve now decided that they want to ensure public access and responsible management in the future, I don’t know exactly how they’d go about this.
      Could they put a covenant on the land?
      Could they only allow certain bodies to bid by sealed tender?
      Or could they decide that actually they don’t want to sell it on the open market any more and instead just do a deal with a body like the National Trust?
      They’re proposing to offer Bridport’s oldest secular building – The Chantry in South Street – to the Vivat Trust, which currently leases it. (There’s pieces elsewhere on this site about how The Chantry probably used to be a primitive lighthouse).
      I wonder if Eype Beach will be put into a restricted sale category? But then, if part of the aim is to raise money, is an opportunity being missed?

  14. P J Nash

    Don’t worry, it will be a West Dorset District Council stitchup and the beach will be sold to their mates. Another of our public resources gone forever.

  15. Bruce Upton

    It all boils down to what degree of conditions and protection they put on the beach. At the very least public access should be free and unlimited, and it should be made clear that selling the beach doesn’t imply planning permission for residential or commercial development. And certainly not any extraction of shingle.

    BTW what exactly is meant by a beach? I always thought the bits between high and low water mark belonged to the Crown. And what about the stream that flows onto the beach? And if erosion moves the beach inland, does the new owner have a right to the new bits of beach? It sounds like a lawyer’s paradise to me!

  16. John Biggs

    What about a co-operative purchase between interested parties, ensuring real people use and preservation…..Or is that toooooo difficult

  17. Brian Etheredge

    Ok. So public access to the beach may be protected but has anyone realised that this right of access becomes a moot point if parking facilities are removed and no parking is allowed? Thus making the beach accessible to the few members of the public who are able bodied enough to walk God knows how far from the nearest parking? Don’t think this won’t happen either.

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