Neighbourhood Plan

Welcome to our Neighbourhood Plan pages

Contact details: Our website has pages dedicated to the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) and the Beneath The Vale (BTV) magazine plus link-pages to the websites of the Marshwood Community Land Trust (CLT) and our Parish Council. If you want to contact the NP Steering Committee, please send an e-mail to or write to: The NP Steering Committee, c/o The Old Rectory, Marshwood, DT6 5QJ; your inquiry or comment will be passed on for you.

5 May 2020 – Dorset Council NP approval 

Our Neighbourhood Plan (final version here)  completed its full consultation process and was approved today by Dorset Council: all planning applications submitted from our area from now on will have to take account of what is in the plan.

As regards the Colmer site in Marshwood (opposite the school), the landowner tells us that he intends to make a single planning application in May or June covering the housing, the car park and the space for a future shop. He would then plan to sell the housing site to a developer to construct the houses and, subsequently, would undertake construction of the carpark.   

I would like to thank all of those on the NP committee who took part in the creation of this plan, those who attended various public meetings to contribute their views and the parish council members for their support.

The plan sets out our vision for the years ahead but it can be reviewed and revised if needed should our priorities change.

Charles Somers, chair of the NP committee       

14 Feb 2020 – NP Referendum result

The results of the 13 Feb referendum were as follows:

Those in favour: 79

Those against:    35

Turnout:              22% 

The majority of those  voting voted in favour of the plan and Dorset Council will now proceed to ‘make’ the plan via a full council decision, likely in mid April 

Jan-Feb 2020 NP Referendum

Following the successful examination of the Upper Marshwood Vale Neighbourhood Plan (NP), Dorset Council agreed to enable the plan, as amended, to proceed to referendum. The Council released a Decision statement to this effect.

The referendum will be held on Thursday 13 February 2020 across the Upper Marshwood Vale neighbourhood area as marked on Map 1 which is included in the Referendum draft of the Upper Marshwood Vale Neighbourhood Plan (page 19). Polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm at the village halls at Bettiscombe and Stoke Abbott. If the majority of people who vote are in favour of the Plan, the Council will ‘make’ the plan so that it can be used in planning decisions.

Hard copies of the Upper Marshwood Vale Neighbourhood Plan and the supporting material listed below can be viewed at South Walks House, Dorchester and Beaminster Town Council offices after the 6 January 2020.

Copies of the NP, plus an article on a possible future shop and community hub for Marshwood, are also available to see in Marshwood at the garage, church and school as well as at the Shaves Cross pub on Mutton Street and at the New Inn pub in Stoke Abbott.  

The information being made available is:

Details of work on possible solutions for a shop can be found here.

October 2019 – Examiner’s questions and our responses

In late October 2019 an examiner was appointed by Dorset Council to review our Neighbourhood Plan and the consultation responses which had been received and and we made initial comments to him on those.  

On the 7th of November we received from the NP examiner some questions on our plan and we provided answers to these on the 15th of November. Dorset Council was also asked to provide answers to examiner’s questions and these can be seen here on their website.   

We hope that by the end of the year the examiner will have completed his report and that we can move forward with our plan.  

Aug-Oct 2019 – Dorset Council NP consultation

An 8-week full consultation on our updated Neighbourhood Plan (NP) was conducted by Dorset Council, as explained in their press release, starting on Monday the 19th of August and closing on Monday the 14th of October. All related documents are available on the Dorset Council website including a consultation form to be returned to Dorset Council.

A printed copy of the NP was made available to review at the garage and school (when re-opened) in Marshwood and at the New Inn in Stoke Abbott: some printed copies of the consultation form were also made available to fill in and return to Dorset council although these were available on this website and that of Dorset Council.  A copy of the NP and consultation forms was also be made available at the coffee afternoon (2:30 to 5 pm) held at Marshwood church on the 18th of August  

Once this consulation has been completed it will be examined by a Government inspector who may make ammendments before approval. The approved NP will then be put to a referendum of those on the voter list in the four Upper Marshwood Vale parishes and this is expected to take place towards the end of this year or early next year. If approved by the majority of those voting in our local community, it will be incorporated into Dorset Council planning policy.  

The NP covers the next 15-year period and addresses future needs for housing, growth in the local economy and protection of community facilities, local landscape and character. It also has specific policies on the following:

  • protecting community facilities – pubs, churches, garage, school, village halls, and seeking a replacement for the shop at Marshwood;
  • protecting recreational access to the countryside and local assets such as Little Giant Wood, Lambert’s Castle, Pilsdon Penn and footpaths;
  • protecting and enhancing the character of local landscape in future development;
  • a general policy to allow conversion of existing buildings for residential use;
  • a general policy to support small-scale employment enterprises;
  • a site opposite the Marshwood school (Colmer) where a small number of well-designed houses could be allowed to be developed in return for a 30-space carpark (for use by the school and church) and to provide a possible site for a new shop. It also considers a further site near the church (Gramarye) which might be used for some less visible future development (e.g. a playground);
  • the Three Counties Nurseries site on the outskirts of Marshwood (ex-greenhouses) where some live/work units could be allowed to be developed.

May-Jun 2019  – Neighbourhood Plan pre-consultation

A 6-week public pre-consultation on our draft Neighbourhood Plan was open from Tuesday 7 May to Tuesday 18 June 2019. There were 56 return forms completed, of some 100 distributed, which was not a bad response rate. Of these, 44 were from Marshwood, Bettiscombe and Pilsdon, 7 from Stoke Abbott and 5 from others not in our parishes but with an interest in the NP. A further four comments were submitted via the NP website. 

There was strong support for the overall plan with many suggestions for minor changes: there were also general objections, around 10% of responses. The support level on the specific sites (Colmer and Three Counties) was also strong, again with suggestions for minor changes and there were also several objections, again around 10% of responses.

Responses were carefully considered and resulted in some changes to the plan.  A revised version of the NP, together with supporting documents, was presented to the parish council at their meeting of 18 July and approved for submission to Dorset Council. All documents were sent to Dorset Council on the 19th of July and will be published on this web-site once the final consultation process has begun, this expected by mid-August when a Government inspector will also be appointed. Pre-consultation documents can be viewed and downloaded here:

Nov 2018 – Site options consultation and of a follow-up public meeting

We received 50 replies to our site options consultation. There was strong support for finding a replacement for the village shop, recently closed, and also for the provision of extra parking at the school though neither of the school sites is possible unless housing is supported. A subsequent public meeting found support for housing if that would result in a car park and a site for a new shop. No further sites for homes were supported, only one site for live/work units. A long-term project for a communal sewage treatment plant for Marshwood did not receive support with a perceived lack of benefit for those who do not live in the centre of Marshwood. A report on the consultation and the shop/car park meeting are here. 

Aug-2018 – Call for sites

A new site (see Site Options document) was added to our list, a field opposite the school in Marshwood, and the Options Consultation Questionnaire was modified accordingly. 

Following on from the call-for-sites process run earlier in the year, reports were produced on Housing Need and  Site Options (see above), together with a Business Plan for the area and a Policies Statement. All of these documents were presented at our meetings and participants requested to fill in an Options Consultation Questionnaire.

Spring 2018 – Call for sites

We called on land owners in the Upper Marshwood Vale parishes, of Marshwood, Bettiscombe, Pilsdon and Stoke Abbott, willing to offer land to contribute to sustaining our community over the next 20 years, to contact us as we develop our Neighbourhood Plan. 

Jun 2017 – NP Questionnaire responses

We received over 100 responses to our NP questionnaires sent out before Christmas, have analysed those and have held two public meetings to present the findings. The first meeting was at Marshwood church on the 6th of May and the second at Stoke Abbott village hall on the 3rd of June.  Minutes of these meetings can be found here.  We presented at those meetings: 

At both of these meetings we received strong public support to continue our steering committee’s work towards producing a first draft of the NP document and we will be reporting on our progress as we go along, also via our quarterly parish magazine Beneath The Vale the next issue of which is due out in early July.

Purpose of the NP

The benefits to communities for producing a NP, according to the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE –, are:

  • The development of housing, including affordable dwellings, and bringing vacant or derelict buildings back into use.
  • Provision for businesses to set up or expand their premises.
  • Transport and access (including issues around roads, cycling, walking and access for disabled people).
  • The development of schools, places of worship, health facilities, leisure and entertainment, community and youth centers and village halls.
  • Restriction on the creation of types of development and change of use, for example to avoid too much of one type of use.
  • Design of buildings.
  • Protection and creation of open spaces, nature reserves, allotments, sports pitches, play areas and the planting of trees.
  • Protection of important buildings and historic assets.
  • Promotion of renewable energy and sewage projects.

We have grouped below four main areas of interest for you to leave comments to help us develop our draft Neighbourhood Plan


The Upper Marshwood Vale area is unusual in that there is no central village or community. Marshwood has a Shop ...
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The Upper Marshwood Vale Parish is designated as being in an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (AONB).  As a result, ...
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Education / Leisure

Education Marshwood Village has a small Church-aided primary school with around sixty pupils split into three classes. The catchment area ...
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Business is a key aspect of our Neighbourhood Plan; for without new business and the jobs that go with it, ...
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