Posted by: dorsetcpre | February 10, 2015

Dorset’s glorious heath-lands could be at risk from development

Dorset CPRE is concerned that Dorset’s heaths – the inspiration for Thomas Hardy’s Egdon Heath and paintings by JMW Turner – could be put at risk from development.

Local councils whose areas include the internationally important heaths are consulting on a Dorset Heathland Planning Framework for the next five years.

Some of the councils seem ready to maintain the current approach to the protection of the heath, and to maintain and respect the vital 400m heath-land protection zone. Natural England provide maps showing the detailed 400 metre zone around the protected heathland sites. However, Dorset CPRE is very concerned that Purbeck District Council [PDC] has said that it will not be bound by the outcome of the joint consultation. PDC has indicated its intention to review the protection of the heath-land in the context of its local plan review, the object of which is to identify additional land for house-building and development in Purbeck.

The heath-land at Hartland Moor

The heath-land at Hartland Moor

Poole Borough Council is coordinating the joint consultation on the protection of the heath, which ends on 18 February. PDC’s consultation on its local plan review and heath-land policy runs until 13 March. Dorset CPRE asks its members and people who care about the future of the heath-land to respond to both consultations [details below,] calling for all the councils to protect the heaths and to maintain the vital 400m heath-land protection zone.

Stephen Howard, the Chairman of Dorset CPRE, said: “Since the nineteenth century, 80% of England’s lowland heath has been lost to development, forestry and farming. What remains is largely here in Dorset. The Dorset heath-land was immortalised by Thomas Hardy as “Egdon Heath,” and has inspired painters including JMW Turner. Purbeck and all the councils should be proud to be the guardians of the rare and important heath-land areas, and recognise the need to protect them.”

We in CPRE are astonished that the Planning Inspector was able to recommend additional house-building in Purbeck well beyond any demonstrable level of local need. CPRE supports the provision of affordable housing for local people, housing which is well-designed and in appropriate locations. However, the demand for market housing in a beautiful area like Purbeck is effectively infinite. Neither the Inspector nor PDC seem to have due regard to the designation of much of Purbeck as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] nor its inclusion within the area proposed for designation as the Dorset & East Devon National Park.

Foxgloves on the heath-land near Middlebere

Foxgloves on the heath-land near Middlebere

How to respond

We hope that you will join our call for all the councils to protect the heaths, by responding to these two consultations.

Dorset CPRE’s message in response to these consultations is:

We call on all the local authorities, including Purbeck DC, to:

  • Maintain the current approach to the protection of the heath; and
  • Maintain and respect, without exception, the 400m heath-land protection zone.

We would appreciate if you would send responses to both consultations as follows:

By email to:, subject ‘Heath-land SPD’.

Or write, for the attention of:

Planning and Regeneration Services
Borough of Poole
Civic Centre
BH15 2RU

By email to:, subject ‘Heath-land Protection’.
Or write to:

Planning Policy Team
Purbeck District Council
Westport House
Worgret Road
BH20 4PP

Thank you if you have already submitted comments, and we are most grateful of your support in this campaign. Please join Dorset CPRE and help protect Dorset’s heath-lands.


  1. […] Unfortunately, the question only invites further comment if one disagree with current protection of the heath. But we suggest using the comment opportunity as a way to emphasise how important it is for Purbeck District Council to maintain the current approach to the 400m zone protection of the heath-land, in order to safeguard Purbeck’s internationally important, rare and vulnerable lowland heaths. Please read our recent article about protection of heath-lands in Dorset for more details. […]

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