As Swanage residents will be aware, the consultation period for the Local Plan is in progress, with leaflets outlining various options for housing sites, town centre development and the seafront.

The Society has submitted a detailed response, summarised below, to the Consultation on the Plan, which runs until 2027. We consider the Plan to be of vital importance to the controlled development that is bound to take place in Swanage and Purbeck in this period.  However, the Swanage Local Plan must fit with the Purbeck District Plan adopted in 2012, after the earlier Core Strategy consultation.

In the consultation documents, sent to every home in Swanage, modest extensions are proposed for the settlement boundary, with which we broadly agree, although we are insistent that there must be no building encroachment on to the downs on the south side of Peveril Road.

We stated that, of the potential sites for housing put forward, we would prefer a site to the east of Northbrook Road to include the Grammar School and the land thence to the new school currently under construction, with much smaller developments elsewhere to provide in total the 200 units required. We would least like to see housing on Herston Fields, where we support the campaign for its designation as a village green.

Probably most controversially, the Society suggested it would support investigation of the Prospect allotments site for affordable housing – providing the allotment holders are happy with alternative provision and the housing, if developed there, is 100% affordable for local families, the only site that this would be possible due to its Town Council ownership.

In the Town Centre, we have re-iterated the necessity of retention of the Swanage Hospital and the Health Centre on their present sites, with incorporation of additional facilities required by the NHS. Any expansion of the Co-op should be for their present food lines etc only – not for sale of white goods, TVs etc, which could adversely affect the town’s existing shops. While looking forward to sensitive re-development of the Pier Head site, we have proposed closure to through traffic of the Lower High Street, to improve the safety of people using these developments and the seafront.

With regard to employment, our suggestions include reconstruction of the collapsing barns on Prospect Farm to provide some small workshop units, possibly with living accommodation above. We also suggested a policy to support the Swanage Railway’s needs for construction of better workshop facilities which, in turn, would create additional employment opportunities for a variety of skills and apprenticeships.

Referring to leisure and tourism, we suggested :

  1. A new museum/visitor centre, relocated from Marine Villas on the pier, to be constructed in the area between ‘K’s and the Information Centre, with a cafe. A useful attraction to visitors and residents alike, this would be more accessible than in its current location and give a focus to the present rather non-descript area to this part of the seafront.
  2. Redevelopment or modernisation of the Mowlem. Internal improvements are required to bring the Mowlem’s facilities up to modern standards of access and amenity and to realise its full potential.

Turning to the Natural Environment, we suggest, as part of the Coastal Change Policy of ‘Hold the Line’, consideration be given to constructing a stone seawall along the length of Shore Road profiled on the seaward side so that in storms the beach, instead of being swept over Shore Road, would be thrown back into the sea to be in due course returned to the beach.

Regarding access and links around the town, we suggested that Commercial Road and the links through to Commercial Road be paved in stone to give it a stronger identity, in conjunction with provision of improved areas for refuse bins.

We also suggested consideration being given to a new road being made to give access to the California Quarry site (exploratory oil well) and on to Durlston. It would need to be constructed as sympathetically as possible, respecting the natural levels of the land, running along the southern boundary of the town’s settlement area.

Regarding open space, we referred again to Herston Fields as a village green. Also, we repeated our suggestion that trees and shrubs be planted to the west side of Victoria Avenue on the town side of the railway bridge to screen the unattractive buildings of the ‘old’ industrial estate.  This is an important employment location but it does nothing for the visual approach to the town.

Among other points we made, were :

  • to meet the needs of an ageing population it is essential that present health, welfare and social care facilities are maintained.
  • opportunities for young people can be given, by building affordable homes so local families can remain in Swanage together with the retention of good public transport

The built environment did not appear as a topic in the consultation.  However, the Society considers it vital for Swanage’s prosperity that much stronger safeguards be included in the Local Plan for its existing building stock, particularly that pre-dating 1914, and suggested policies to support this including preparation and maintenance of a local list of buildings of local architectural and historic interest. As a town largely reliant on tourism, we need to preserve the character of the town.

Mike Stollery