West Bay’s four Dorset Coastal Connections projects are nearly completed and open and available for the community and visitors of West Bay to enjoy and benefit.

1. Unique curved benches designed by artist Michael Pinsky are now in place at the West Bay ‘hub’.

Next to the harbour, these centrally located cast concrete benches are designed to reflect the curves and shapes of the local land and sea scape.

They provide an open space for people to sit and enjoy local food with a great view as well as a circular backdrop to showcase the many motorbikes which regularly gather at West Bay.

Motorbikes are encouraged to park around the outside of the of the benches, keeping the inner circle free for people to sit, relax and eat away from traffic. The central space allows for uninterrupted views across the harbour and river.

In the middle, a bronze plaque made locally by Bridport Foundry has been installed, featuring points of the compass and signposting to locations in West Bay.

There is some finishing work which will be done over the next few weeks on the benches to smooth out lines and also to fill and tidy up the edges of the central plaque.

What do you think this new unique space in West Bay should be called? Keep a look out for a naming competition due to be released soon by Bridport Town Council.

2. The West Bay Shared Access project resurfaced and widened the existing bridleway, along the old railway line between West Bay and Bothenhampton to provide safe, traffic-free route between West Bay and Bridport's existing walking and cycling network.

New bespoke cycle parking stands are installed between Station Yard and West Bay Road car parks which is at the start/finish of the newly surfaced shared access path. Designed by Michael Pinsky the cycle parking stands are all different wavy shapes and sizes to allow for different shapes and sizes of bicycles. Sheltered cycle parking is also available behind the facilities building in West Bay Road car park.

3. Free public Wi-Fi is now available in West Bay for everyone to use. The connection name is ‘West_Bay-Free’ and users can connect for free. This new connectivity will help businesses, residents and visitors find out more information about what’s on in the local area and ensure West Bay is well connected for the future.

4. The Beach Access project has been altered to improve access to the disabled toilet next to the beach by the Watch House Café.

Improvements will include resurfacing a section of the access alongside the West Bay Discovery Centre to the toilets, where the ramp leading up to the disabled toilet will be widened and made more suitable for disabled access.

These improvement works will be led by Bridport Town Council and works are expected to take place late Spring 2020.

With the West Bay coastal defence improvement works now complete, Environment Agency engineers reviewed the feasibility of the East Beach Access project.

Having researched the possible solutions, and alternatives, thoroughly, it was decided that an appropriate, safe-to-use design for the proposed boardwalk at East Beach is not feasible due to funding constraints.

Included in the Beach & Shared Accesses projects a detailed review of the interpretation, orientation and safety signage at the key points in West Bay will take place. The aim of this review is to replace current multiple signs with a more cohesive approach, with new improved attractive signage that will encourage visitors to stop and read about to learn about West Bay and how to keep safe during their visit.

Cllr Dave Rickard, Leader of Bridport Town Council said “We’re delighted to see these projects coming to fruition in West Bay, and to have been part of the partnership that delivered them.

"We know from the extensive consultation carried out by Dorset Coast Forum that the ideas have community support, and it’s great that the partnership successfully attracted government funding for them.

"The Town Council is pleased to be taking ownership of the foot/cycle path and the Welcome Hub area shortly, giving us the opportunity to improve them further in future.”

A key part of the Dorset Coastal Connections portfolio was for the community to be at the heart of the projects and Dorset Coast Forum and project partners held two rounds of consultation for the West Bay projects, firstly in summer 2017 to understand how residents and visitors currently use these spaces and what they would like to see there.

The second round of engagement held in July 2018 displayed artist Michael Pinsky’s proposed design and concepts for the improvements. The projects were positively received with a wide range of comments and suggestions.

These four projects are part of the Dorset Coastal Connections portfolio of 18 projects along the Dorset Coast which aim to support and boost the economies of Dorset’s coastal areas.

The portfolio is funded by a grant from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund and partner organisations and coordinated by Dorset Coast Forum.

Collaborating on these projects are Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty/Jurassic Coast Trust, Dorset Council Infrastructure Service and Highways, Bridport Town Council, The Arts Development Company, Michael Pinsky and Aileen Shackell Landscape Design.