Purbeck to face weeks of transport disruption despite protests

Studland Parish Council says it’s “appalled” that a main road into the village is to be closed at the same time as the Sandbanks Ferry is out of action for five weeks for maintenance.

This will leave only one route into the village via Swanage for more than a month from Monday 31st October 2022.

Water works on Studland Road

Wessex Water are replacing a water pipe along the B3351 Studland Road

Studland Road to close for five weeks

Wessex Water is currently installing a new water main to supply Corfe Castle and it requires the B3351 Studland Road to be closed for five weeks to complete the work.

The water company offered to wait until the ferry was back in service but Dorset Council preferred that it should take place at the same time as the ferry was not operating, as it argued there would be less traffic using the road when the ferry wasn’t in use. Also that it would mean one period of disruption and not two.

However Studland Parish Council has objected to the plan four times and says its concerns that access for emergency services would be hampered have been ignored by Dorset Council.

It will also mean that all traffic heading to Studland will have to go via Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Greyhound Pub in Corfe Castle

All traffic will have to go via the East Street tight bend in Corfe Castle

“Makes the consultation process look like a sham”

Chair of Studland Parish Council said:

“Studland residents and businesses are appalled that Dorset Council and Wessex Water are going ahead with the closure of the B3351 – at the same time as the ferry will be shut.

“This will have an extremely detrimental impact on businesses in Studland – mainly restaurants and hotels, but also the golf course – who are dependent on visitors from outside Studland. Several will be closing their doors during the road closure.

“Studland Parish Council, together with Corfe Castle Parish Council, and a number of the major businesses in Studland, have all opposed this simultaneous closure during a consultation exercise organised by Dorset Council. In the case of the Studland Parish Council, we objected four times during this process.

“Sadly Dorset Council, the organisers of the consultation, have totally ignored our concerns – which include the danger to life and property as a result of emergency services having to make much longer journeys to reach us.

“We have had two major heath fires over the last year – put out expertly by the fire services; however if there is a third, over the next six weeks, the fire might be much worse due to the extra time it will take for fire engines to reach us. Also it will take ambulances much longer.

“We will be demanding an enquiry into why the views of residents and businesses have been totally ignored: it makes the consultation process look like a sham and a waste of time, and it does no credit to Dorset Council. It suggests that Dorset Council has little concern for people or businesses in rural areas.

“With these works starting next week, we’re calling on the emergency services to ensure vehicles and staff are co-located to Studland, so that a prompt and comparable service can be provided”

The road closure is scheduled from Monday 31st October 2022 to Friday 2nd December 2022.

Sandbanks Ferry closed sign

The ferry closes down for about five weeks every two years for maintenance

Sandbanks ferry to be towed to Falmouth

The Sandbanks Ferry usually undergoes a refit every two years and alternates between major and minor refits. This year it will undergo a major refit and be towed to Falmouth in Cornwall where it will be moved to a dry dock for the maintenance to take place.

The ferry’s last day of service before the refit is Sunday 30th October 2022 and it will then leave for Falmouth on Monday 31st October 2022 for a period of four weeks.

The aim is for the ferry to be back in early December 2022 however the exact date will be announced closer to the time as it will be dependent on the weather.

Ferry Road in Studland

Ferry Road will be very quiet for five weeks

“There may be an inconvenience and for that I apologise”

The ferry’s managing director Jason du Toit said:

“As with everything, the better we care for the ferry, the fewer disruptions to service we will have. I understand that during this time there may be an inconvenience and for that I apologise.

“However refits are a time for us to ensure the vessel is safe and ready to carry passengers for the next few years.”

Bus in Swanage

The number 50 at Swanage Bus Station

Purbeck Breezer bus to be rerouted

The Purbeck Breezer 50 bus, operated by Morebus, usually travels over the ferry but while it isn’t operating, the bus will be rerouted. Renamed the X50 it will run once every two hours from Studland to Poole via Swanage.

It will run non-stop between Swanage and Poole and then non-stop to Westbourne. It will then serve all stops to Bournemouth Square. It will do the same coming back. According to the timetable it will take one and a half hours to travel on the bus from Studland to Bournemouth Square.

There will be no bus service between Studland, Heath Green Road and Shell Bay Ferry Offices or between Bournemouth Square and Bournemouth Rail Station during the ferry closure.

Cars on the Sandbanks Ferry

The view from the Purbeck Breezer on the ferry

Troubled time for ferry over last three years

The last time the ferry went to Falmouth for a major refit was in 2018 and it was out of service for seven weeks. In summer 2019 the ferry was out of service for many monthe due to a broken crank shaft.

In 2020, coronavirus restrictions meant that the ferry ceased operating for several months as the number of vehicles wishing to use the service plummeted making it uneconomic to continue.

While it was moored for safety in Poole Harbour in May 2020, a large piece of concrete unexpectedly detached from the fixed jetty and fell into the ferry causing significant damage to its hull. After being fixed, it eventually returned to service in June 2020.

In May 2021 the company heard that an application to increase toll prices had been successful. Although it had initially asked for inflation-linked increases, it accepted incremental fixed price increases over the next 10 years based on low inflation rates.

With inflation now at 10 percent and fuel costs rising, the company may now wish it had achieved its original inflation-linked proposal.

More information

  • The latest information about when the Sandbanks Ferry will be back operating will be on its website
  • The Purbeck Breezer X50 timetable

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