Housing and Employment Policies

Housing and Employment

Key messages:

Shaftesbury has already ‘fulfilled’ our town’s quota of 1,245 new dwellings for the period 2011–2031. This allocation of housing was set in the Local Plan that was adopted in January 2016.

What’s the Local Plan?

The Local Plan is the North Dorset area blueprint for development. It covers the future use of land and planned infrastructure changes for a much bigger area than just Shaftesbury.

The Local Plan deals with Shaftesbury, Blandford, Sturminster Newton, Stalbridge and places in-between. If you think of the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan in terms of a hierarchy, or a ‘pecking order’, then the Local Plan sits above this Neighbourhood Plan in that it sets out the strategy for a much wider area.

The Neighbourhood Plan cannot change a Local Plan policy. But the Neighbourhood Plan can create a policy which offers more local flavour to a Local Plan policy, in order to meet Shaftesbury’s specific needs.

In 2017, the local authority announced that it couldn’t meet its 5-year housing land supply across the district. That means that there is not enough land with (or likely to get) planning permission which could then be built on to and then get built, to meet potential requirements over the next 5 years. Because of that, the planning authority is under immense pressure to allow more housing by granting planning permission to develop sites that are outside the settlement boundary.

Shaftesbury people have been very clear in their response to our consultation. They do not want housing developments on the countryside or slopes that surround our town. That’s why we don’t want to alter the settlement boundary.

In our consultation we asked whether locals would agree or disagree with the construction of affordable housing outside the settlement boundary. Even when considering building homes that would provide accommodation for essential workers or local people, the message was clear. 61% of respondents opposed building on fields and open land.

Housing and Employment Draft Policies:

Policy SFHE1

What does Policy SFHE1 set out to do?

To ensure that the need for and sustainability of new developments is carefully considered in the context of the existing supply in Shaftesbury (houses with planning permission but not yet built) and the latest traffic information and implications of further planned growth.


POLICY SFHE1 – Where housing development is proposed on greenfield sites outside of the settlement boundary, and the Local Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply, the social, economic and environmental impacts on Shaftesbury, including the existing housing supply in Shaftesbury and likely traffic growth and cumulative impacts with other development, should be clearly set out and assessed.

Quick Read

What does this policy mean and why is it important?

We think that Shaftesbury has shouldered its share of the district housing quota. It’s really important to remember that we cannot refuse any more housing – we don’t have that authority. But if more housing is imposed on Shaftesbury through home-building targets, we believe that the existing developments should be given time to ‘bed down’ and the town needs to be given ‘breathing space’ to adjust to the demands placed on its infrastructure.


Policy SFHE2

What does Policy SFHE2 set out to do?

To learn from the issues that have arisen from previous large-scale housing developments in Shaftesbury.

This includes how incremental changes have watered down the original intent, and how delays and underperformance against planning obligations and conditions have undermined the quality of development and the delivery of critical elements of the scheme.


POLICY SFHE2 – The following key principles should be applied to any future housing sites:

  • Sites should be small to medium size (i.e. up to 1hectare in size) that can be delivered in a timely manner and integrated into an existing built-up area.
  •  The mechanisms that will be used to ensure that planning obligations and conditions are monitored and complied with are set out clearly.
  •  The delivery of affordable housing should address the needs of the local community (including key workers engaged in services in Shaftesbury, such as health and social care, education and emergency services).
  •  The use of a suitable delivery vehicle, such as a Community Land Trust (CLT) should be secured where possible to manage the allocation of affordable housing and give priority to those with a local connection in housing need.
  • On sites of 10 or more dwellings, the mix of housing should avoid being any one type in order to promote social integration.
  •  Any affordable housing should be pepper-potted and indistinguishable from open market housing, and delivered in tandem or advance of the open market housing

If large sites over 1ha in size are proposed, these should be properly master-planned. This means:

  •  The development should be phased to ensure the provision of any employment land, community facilities and infrastructure (including bus-friendly routes, cycle routes / cycle-friendly streets, shared parking areas and onward highway connections) as well as green infrastructure is delivered in tandem and each phase is fully completed in a timely manner.
  •  Information on the variation in scale of building heights (including information on the impact of local topography and views), landscape features to be retained and proposed green spaces, corridors and landscaping is set out for all phases prior to the commencement of development.

Quick Read

What does this policy mean and why is it important?

What has been actually built in some of Shaftesbury’s new larger developments has drifted from what was originally agreed by the planners. We want developers to be bound by their proposals, so their designs don’t change greatly, and they get built in a timely manner. Smaller developments, on smaller sites, ‘fit in’ and work better. In our extensive consultation, 85% of the people who responded felt that we should encourage more small sites rather than larger scale developments to meet future housing needs. There should be footpaths, green space and environmental measures included.



Policy SFHE3

What does Policy SFHE3 set out to do?

To encourage conditions for attracting and retaining employment.

The availability and attractiveness of employment sites is a key factor, alongside other factors such as housing availability, a thriving town centre, and an attractive environment that employers and employees will be happy to live in and operate from.


POLICY SFHE3 – Existing employment areas will be protected, including Longmead, Wincombe, land south of the A30 (existing) and Blackmore Vale Dairy, for future employment needs.

The allocation of the land to the south of the A30 (insofar as it lies within the parish) as employment land will be safeguarded

Development that would bring vacant or underused parts of existing buildings back into economic use should be supported.

Which areas are employment land?

The key employment areas in Shaftesbury are:

  • The town centre, which has 162 businesses and covers 225,000 square feet.
  •  Wincombe Business Park, which accommodates 86 employers over 125,000 square feet of office, factory and warehouse space, a retail warehouse and a restaurant.
  • There are 48 businesses on the mixed use, 250,000 square foot Longmead site. That includes factory, warehouse and office space.

There are 8 businesses on the 50,000 square feet of land at Ivy Cross, including a garage, shops, depot and take away. The Blackmore Vale Dairy covers a 50,000 square foot site.

Land to the south of the A30 is identified as employment land in the Local Plan. There are 4 businesses sharing 6,000 square feet of retail, warehouse and storage space here, and room for much more.

Currently (April 2019) Persimmon Homes is requesting planning consent to develop this site. Their proposal to create 135 homes has been opposed by Shaftesbury Town Council, who want to retain the land for employment.

Littledown Business Park is outside the Neighbourhood Plan border in Motcombe.

Quick Read

What does this policy mean and why is it important?

We believe that the land earmarked for industrial estates and business parks should be retained for that purpose. We do not support building homes, for example, on land that could accommodate factories, retail space or offices. Shaftesbury Chamber of Commerce believes this is important too.

Policy SFHE4

What does Policy SFHE4 set out to do?

The Shaftesbury Eastern Bypass corridor will be preserved, and its early provision supported.


POLICY SFHE4 – The bypass corridor to the eastern side of the town will be preserved and its early provision supported.

Development will be strongly resisted that would jeopardise the construction of the bypass.

Insight into Shaftesbury’s road network

The A350 currently runs to the east of Shaftesbury town centre along the road ‘Christy’s Lane’ and, for most of its length through the town, coincides with the east-west A30, carrying large volumes of traffic including HGVs heading to and from Poole and the South Coast ports.

This volume of traffic creates a significant barrier for both pedestrian and cycle access that effectively divides the town into two halves – already referred to locally as ‘East Shaftesbury’ and ‘West Shaftesbury’.

Christy’s Lane was originally constructed as the external relief road for the town and is still referred to locally as the ‘bypass’. However, it now has development both to the east and to the west and is acting as a distinct barrier to movement between the two parts of the town.

The 2002-3 Enquiry by Design process expressly sought to prevent this eventuality. It proposed that the role of Christy’s Lane should be transformed from a road to a street, through development that would help create a street scene and sense of enclosure. Additional traffic management measures including the provision of improved pedestrian and cycleway crossings would be implemented to facilitate linkages between the town centre and the existing and proposed developments to the east of Christy’s Lane.

In 2019, the NP conducted the first phase of public engagement relating to the Shaftesbury-specific Neighbourhood Plan. There were 241 responses relating to the question asking residents about the preservation of the bypass corridor to the east of the town. 199 responders answered yes, which represents 82% of the responses received, so the majority are in favour of preserving the bypass corridor.

Christy’s Lane has seen a 22% increase in traffic since 1996 according to Dorset Highways figures. On an average day in 2017, 20,500 vehicles used this short stretch of road. In the last 22 years, the number of HGVs on Christy’s Lane has risen from around 5% to 15%. HGVs make up 17% of traffic on the A350 Grosvenor Road, a road lined with residential properties, which leads Christy’s Lane traffic heading towards Warminster out of Shaftesbury.

It is likely that Christy’s Lane will become busier. More housing developments are planned for Shaftesbury. Residents of new estates at Littledown and an estate on land marked for development at Wincombe will need to drive along Christy’s Lane when travelling north or north-east. A new 1,600 home development on the Shaftesbury side of Gillingham is also likely to increase traffic volume on Christy’s Lane.

The planned bypass would reduce pressure on Christy’s Lane and Grosvenor Road.

Whilst the Neighbourhood Plan cannot allocate funds or decide transport policy, we believe that the by-pass corridor must be retained for reasons of safety and to encourage community social cohesion by preventing our town being split in two by increased traffic.



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