The creation of a Dorset National Park would give a boost to protection of Purbeck’s countryside, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said.
Much of Dorset, including Purbeck, is currently designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – an area of land marked out for conservation.
However, there have been growing calls from organisations such as the CPRE for Dorset to receive National Park status. National Parks differ from AONBs in that they have their own authorities and greater powers over planning.
It would bring a “sense of stability”
Peter Bowyer, Chair of Trustees for Dorset’s CPRE branch, said:
“I think it will create a sense of stability for the protection for the precious environment that we have in Purbeck. It will also bring additional resources into the area in the way of a government grant.
“These resources will be far greater than currently are given to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it also would give to local representatives from parish and town councils and also Dorset Council, the opportunity to be represented on the board of the Dorset National Park.”
Peter Bowyer said that the National Park resources could include additional funds to help farmers diversify and give a boost to the development of tourism in Dorset.
“A National Park would be able to look at the potential for tourism – particularly eco-tourism – and see how that could build on the strengths and the value of the environmental and heritage assets that we have in Purbeck.”
Local housing needs
The CPRE also asserts that a National Park in Dorset would help address local housing needs in the area.
On its website, it cites the example of the South Downs National Park:
“Dorset’s relevant comparator is the South Downs National Park (SDNP) which is also a working, farmed landscape with many town and village communities. In the process of preparing its Local Plan (approved and adopted in 2020), the SDNP worked in partnership with local communities to identify their needs for housing, economic development and local infrastructure. The SDNP facilitated and helped fund around 60 Neighbourhood Plans to help inform its Local Plan.”
About National Parks
There are currently 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom – with the New Forest National Park currently being the closest to Swanage.
The parks receive their funding from central government and have their own National Park authorities.
In the latest general election in 2019, both the Conservatives and the Labour Party committed to creating more National Parks.
The CPRE added:
“There would be positive benefits for all of Dorset’s communities from a National Park. National planning policy would enable the Dorset Council to partner with the Dorset National Park to establish a local methodology for assessing housing need for the whole of the Dorset Council area, not just the area within the National Park. So, in place of central housing targets, Dorset would be able to decide what was appropriate for Dorset.”
“Most important strategic issue”
Peter Bowyer added:
“This is probably the most important strategic issue that faces the whole of Dorset – and in Purbeck, we’re fortunate to have an area which has been protected from overdevelopment. It is a precious resource that we have in the whole of Dorset, and in particular in Purbeck, which a National Park would only enhance.”