Community and Leisure Policies

Community and Leisure

Key messages

Based on what local people have told us, we have the following aims for the town’s community and leisure infrastructure:

  • To ensure that Shaftesbury becomes ‘A historic market town with a range of high-quality sports, leisure, education and social facilities to meet the needs of the whole population, making best use of the town’s qualities and the energy of the community, whilst ensuring that children can choose to walk safely to school’.
  • To ensure that the required health, education, leisure and community infrastructure is in place to accommodate the needs of new residents. Developers can be required to make financial contributions to key local services and infrastructure improvement projects after they gain planning permission. This levy can result in payments of hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to the scale of development.
  • To maximise leisure opportunities for all ages, including new and improved facilities in the best locations to meet changing demand.
  • To promote safe primary school walking and cycling routes and improving these routes where required.
  • To ensure that the health needs of the whole population are met, and to plan for future levels of provision and service to accommodate expanding and aging population.


Summary findings of the Shaftesbury Sports and Leisure Facilities Needs Assessment show that, overall, Shaftesbury is a vital and viable centre. Some of the key strengths and weaknesses of the centre identified include the following:

  • The centre’s leisure offer is below the national average.
  • Environmental quality within the town is considered to be good. There may, however, be an opportunity to increase provision of recreational open space and street furniture.
  • The town centre’s accessibility is poor – in particular an infrequent bus service, a lack of cycleways and narrow pavements that make it more difficult to move around the centre.
  • Land to the east of the town centre is the focus for regeneration and has the potential to provide community facilities.


Community and Leisure Draft Policies:


Policy SFCL1

What does Policy SFCL1 set out to do?

To improve and increase the range and availability of community facilities, sports, and leisure opportunities where these bring benefits to the community.

Everyone should have easy access to such facilities – and although the number of places which are available is generally good, some facilities are lacking (the most notable being an indoor fitness centre), some could be better advertised and facilities in easy walking distance of the area to the east of Christy’s Lane are extremely limited.


POLICY SFCL1 – Locally important community buildings and facilities for sports (as mapped) and the land associated with recreation should be retained and allowed to modernise and adapt to continue to meet the community’s needs. This could be either in their current location or on a suitable alternative site in the Neighbourhood Plan area.

Their loss (in whole or part) will be resisted, unless it can be shown that the current site is no longer suitable or viable to retain and that any loss is off-set by equal or better improvements elsewhere.

New community facilities, including recreation facilities, local shops, pubs and education and health services, will be strongly supported, particularly in the eastern area of the town, where they meet the identified needs of the community and are in line with the wider provisions of this Neighbourhood Plan.

New housing developments will be expected to have access to outdoor green space for sports, play and recreation at least in line with the standards and recommended distances defined by the Local Plan / Fields-in-Trust, which means that these spaces should be within easy reach of homes. These should be provided at the same as the development is built or beforehand.

The Neighbourhood Plan recommends that Shaftesbury Town Council undertakes a survey to assess the demand for and viability of a community facility in or around the Eastern Development.


Government FiT (Fields in Trust) standard versus Shaftesbury space

Quick Read

What does this policy mean and why is it important?

The existing community facilities in Shaftesbury are valued by the majority of local people.59% of the residents who responded to the first consultation felt that improving the existing community halls in Shaftesbury should be prioritised over providing a new venue.

The first part of our community consultation highlighted that there are more community facilities on the west of Christy’s Lane than the eastern side. This needs looking at. We suggest that a detailed assessment into the potential for a community facility in the east of the town is undertaken. The outdoor sports and play spaces, social areas, natural green spaces and allotments space has been calculated. We have less space than we should expect when we compare what is here against government standards (known as the FiT standard). The table on page 77 shows the recommended standard versus the actual provision in Shaftesbury.

Parks and green spaces are proven to help people stay physically and mentally well – places where we can all move, breathe, run and play. National guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play (‘Beyond The Six Acre Standard’) aims to help land use planners ensure a sufficient level of open space to enable residents of all ages to participate in sports and games with an emphasis on access for children to playgrounds and other play space.

The main shortfall in green infrastructure is formal outdoor sports provision and informal recreation and green spaces (such as small greens and dog-walking areas) closer to people’s homes.


Policy SFCL2

What does Policy SFCL2 set out to do?

To support the growth of the tourist economy by encouraging development proposals that are likely to have a positive impact on tourism and that respects and reinforce the different character areas of the town.


The Abbey Museum, Gold Hill Museum, Tourist Information Centre and Shaftesbury Arts Centre are key tourist facilities, together with the main hotels, such as the Grosvenor and Le Fleur de Lys, as well as numerous bed and breakfast providers.

POLICY SFCL2 – Existing key tourist facilities should be protected. Proposals that would result in the loss of existing hotels or large guesthouses and tourist attractions will be resisted, unless it can be demonstrated that their continued use is no longer viable.

The development of new tourist attractions and serviced tourist accommodation (such as a hotel) is supported, provided that:

  • The development is in keeping with or enhances the area’s character.
  • Any new buildings are within the settlement boundary.
  • The site is readily accessible by sustainable modes of transport (a travel plan is likely to be required in most cases).
  • The proposed use would not adversely impact on the amenities of the occupants of nearby properties.


Quick Read

What does this policy mean and why is it important?

Tourism brings employment and ensures that the High Street remains as vibrant as possible. We want to protect what we have and keep our tourists coming back, as it helps our town to be healthy and economically viable. 77% of responses from the recent consultation highlighted that our community feel that the Neighbourhood Plan needs to feature policies to encourage new tourist attractions that would respect Shaftesbury’s character.


Policy SFCL3

What does Policy SFCL3 set out to do?

To support safe walking and cycling routes that are well connected with the town centre and other key areas and that provide access to the countryside, and encourage improvements to this network, including where opportunities arise within developments to create new links or make existing routes more attractive.


POLICY SFCL3 – Support will be given to proposals that improve and extend the existing footpath and cycle path network. This will allow better access between housing areas and to the town, recreation areas and the wider countryside on paths that are safe, attractive and easy to navigate. The loss or downgrading of existing footpaths and cycle paths that fulfil (or have the potential to fulfil) these requirements will be resisted.

New developments will be expected to link into the existing footpath and cycle path network and provide connections through the site. This would help to create a wider walking and cycling network. Contributions towards the costs of maintaining and improving the network of footpaths and cycle paths will be sought from developers.

Quick Read

What does this mean and why is it important?

The current cycle network is limited to main roads. There is currently no safe route for children to cycle to school. Proposals to add routes to the proposed network will be encouraged.

The Neighbourhood Plan group have worked with walking and cycling experts to help shape the proposed plan using a comprehensive audit of the existing footpaths and shaping the proposals based on local in-depth knowledge. The proposals would use funding that developers are required to offer the community when their planned developments are approved.



For Maps and further information please click here to access the full Neighbourhood Plan.