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Licence for Works under the Poole Harbour Act 1914, amended by HRO 2012

If you are considering carrying out work, eg building a jetty, ramp, slipway, sea wall, dredging etc, below the line of Mean High Water of Spring Tides (MHWST) anywhere in Poole Harbour you are likely to require a Harbour Works Licence from Poole Harbour Commissioners. Some properties include ownership of the foreshore, but please note that even if this is the case you still require a licence from the Commissioners.

In determining a Licence, the Commissioners must have regard to the effect on harbour users, harbour regime and the environment.

Most of the Harbour foreshore is designated for nature conservation because of the number and variety of bird and plant life it supports. As a result of its exceptional ecological value it has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). More details regarding the environmental aspects of the Harbour can be found in the Poole Harbour Aquatic Management Plan.

Under these regulations, Poole Harbour Commissioners are required to ensure that any development can demonstrate no adverse impact on the Harbour and its ecology.

In order for the Commissioners to consider the issue of a licence to carry out works it will be necessary to complete a Licence Application form, provide drawings and pay a fee of £100. Guidelines to assist with the completion of this application are attached to the form. 

It may also be necessary for you to apply for Planning Permission from the Borough of Poole or Purbeck District Council, and a licence under the Marine & Coastal Access Act 2009.Unless you own the foreshore off your property you will also be liable for fees charged directly by the Crown Estate.  

Licences for structures already in place are personal to the Licensee and are not transferable. Should you purchase a property with a structure below the line of mean high water you will need to apply for a change of ownership. 

The manner in which Harbour Works Licence applications are determined (following consultation with other relevant statutory authorities) has been updated, with effect from August 2018.


If PHC resolve to grant a Licence pursuant to an application for structures serving residential properties or necessitated by a change of ownership of a residential property, such Licences are likely to be completed by Poole Harbour Commissioners, thus avoiding the expense to the client of solicitors’ fees. 


For PHC-produced simple residential property Licences there will be a once-off consideration of £400 (which could increase if there is unexpected or prolonged administration required) and an annual fee of £100 for the first structure licensed, and £50 for each additional structure.  Fees are payable upon grant of the Licence and Vat will be added, where applicable.


Any large scheme or proposal requiring additional consideration due to the size or complexity of the development will continue to be licensed through our solicitors. The client is responsible for PHC’s cost in putting the licence in place.

For further information, please contact the Harbour Engineer’s Department on 01202 440234 or email margidillon@phc.co.uk