Background & Archive


A detailed Parish Plan was completed for Upper Marshwood Vale in 2000. Five key recommendations have been successfully implemented:

  • Affordable Housing – houses built and allocated in 2016;
  • Superfast Broadband – completed by 2017;
  • Employment of a Lengthsman;
  • A 30 mph speed limit for Marshwood is in place with enforcement;
  • Oak tree planting completed at two sites:

To build on this success and to ensure that the Upper Marshwood Vale residents get the power to determine the shape and character of this area of outstanding natural beauty, the Parish Council agreed with West Dorset District Council, that we should be allowed to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan.

More than 700 parishes and communities across the country are already engaged with producing a plan, and West Dorset had one of the first pilot projects. Cerne Abbas produced the first plan in the county and it has now been approved and voted for by the community.

From preliminary discussions with the Parish Council, Community Land Trust and interested residents, we identified 8 key areas which could be addressed by the community for our plan:-

  • Local jobs through business initiatives
  • Land availability for these and other projects
  • Village sewage solutions
  • Woodland and Hedgerow management – valuable fuel source
  • Renewable energy initiatives
  • Community facilities, services and education
  • Future housing
  • Ideas for the future of our villages.

Progress to date

We held three initial scoping sessions in 2016: a first at Blackdown village hall, where 40 people came and gave their views; the second a well-attended meeting of some 20 people at Stoke Abbott village hall; and finally at Bettiscombe village hall on a small turn-out.

We also made a presentation to Marshwood School and they have recently provided us with their ideas for the future of our community in the form of their pictures – see Marshwood Primary School

We analysed the results of the three scoping exercises, and prepared a questionnaire which was sent out to all UMV households to identify key areas of interest and their level of support. We also attempted to identify landowners who would be prepared to make land available for the development of small-scale housing and businesses, a playground or other community uses. In order to involve as many of our residents as possible we established this website and its associated Facebook page (see ‘contacts details’ above) and all of our documentation is available there so that we can receive comments and ideas to add to the plan.  The issues (with the most support) that have been raised so far are:-

  • Community use of church (Marshwood) – installation of kitchen and toilet facilities
  • Sewage treatment plant(s) (Marshwood)
  • Playground for children (Marshwood and Stoke Abbott)
  • Additional affordable housing for local people (Marshwood and Stoke Abbott)
  • Protecting the future of the shop and post office (Marshwood)
  • Community Shop selling local produce (Stoke Abbott)
  • Preserve The New Inn as a Pub (Stoke Abbott)
  • Off road parking (Stoke Abbott)
  • Artisan’s workshops – eco & self-sufficient (Marshwood & Stoke Abbott).
  • “Safe to school” – footpath (Marshwood).
  • Improved mobile phone coverage (general comment)

We are using an external consultant to assist us with this, as we have to do it according to strict guidelines. Once a draft plan has been agreed, we will also need to consult with Dorset’s planning department, the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty advisers and other external consultees (CPRE, Natural England etc.). A final version of the plan will then put out to all UMV residents for their support, this via a referendum.

 Sequence of NP events and associated documents:


May: public meeting at Marshwood church (18th) and at Stoke Abbott village hall (19th) to discuss site options for a car park and a replacement shop

May 16th: presentation of the NP draft to the parish council

May 7th: launch of 6-week pre-consultation period on the draft NP and SEA

March: NP committee meeting to discuss site options and the planned content of a draft NP and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

Jan-Feb: completion of site visits by consultants to prepare ecology and heritage reports


17th of  November: public meeting at Marshwood church to discuss site options for a car park and a replacement shop

September: 2nd attempt to obtain responses on site options – resulting in 50 returns

July: public meeting at Marshwood church (21st) and at Stoke Abbott village hall (22nd) to present a site options report and 1st attempt to obtain responses

June: Marshwood shop closes.


December: ‘call-for-sites’ document issued with the Christmas issue of the parish magazine.

August: NP committee meeting to decide format of ‘call-for-sites’

May and June: Public meetings were held at Marshwood church on the 6th of May and at Stoke Abbott village hall on the 3rd of June to present the NP questionnaire findings (see xx)


December: NP questionnaires were distributed with the Christmas issue of the Beneath The Vale magazine.

October: NP web-site and Facebook Page established ( and the NP questionnaire finalised

June: Agreement obtained of the UMV PC to establish a new NP website

29th of June, 3rd public consultation meeting was held at Bettiscombe Village Hall (notice) but had a very low turn-out and hence no outcome.

16th of June, NP Steering Group meeting was held at Bettiscombe (minutes).

12th of May: public consultation held at Stoke Abbot Village Hall (public notice and outcome summary)

6th of May: public consultation held at Marshwood church.

4th of March, NP presentation made to Marshwood Primary school aimed at getting the school children involved through an ‘A-to-Z’ project (presentation)

26th & 27th February, a first public consultation meeting was held at Blackdown Village Hall (public notice and outcome summary)

A NP consultant was appointed in January and provided initial NP public consultation guidance and documentation which was discussed at a meeting held on the 11th of February (minutes) together with plans for a first public consultation session to be held at Blackdown in late February.


NP Steering Committee meetings were held on 21st October and 2nd December at Axminster, with representation from UMV and Hawkchurch parishes, to discuss tasks and to plan activities.  A prospective consultant was interviewed and invited to make an offer for NP support services (October 21st minutes and December 2nd minutes).

WDDC approved the UMV NP boundary in August 2015 (NP map) and Locality approved funding (ref. and date approved)

An application was made by UMV PC to WDDC to establish the boundary for their NP and to Locality ( for support funding.


23rd October, a 3rd meeting was held to establish a NP Steering Committee and to discuss possible content, this led by Mike Robinson appointed as chair (minutes).

6th August, a 2nd meeting was held on the 6th of August to discuss possible NP cooperation between adjacent parish councils (possibly Thorncombe, Netherbury and Hawkchurch) and the availability of support funding, the earliest available being from April 2015 (minutes).

19th June, an initial meeting was held with representatives of the parish councils of UMV, Char Valley and Netherbury together with WDDC who made a presentation on the NP process (minutes and WDDC presentation).