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Dorchester town profile

This historic county town of Dorchester was the 'Durnovara' of the Romans and the fictional Casterbridge of Thomas Hardy's novels. The town has a busy shopping centre, a flourishing market and is a major employment centre for the surrounding area.


Dorchester lies at the junction of the A35, South Coast trunk road, and the A37 to Yeovil and the north. It also has direct rail links to London and Bristol.


Latest population figure (2012 Mid Year Estimate) for the town is 19,143

Five year age groups

Age GroupDorchester (persons)Dorchester (%)Dorset(DCC Area)(%)England and Wales(%)
0 to49344.94.76.3
5 to 99284.84.95.7
10 to 141,1285.95.45.6
15 to 191,1255.95.86.2
20 to 241,0465.54.66.8
25 to 291,0015.24.26.8
30 to 349254.84.46.7
35 to 391,1065.84.96.4
40 to 441,3196.96.57.2
45 to 491,5478.17.37.3
50 to 541,3196.97.16.6
55 to 591,1426.06.65.7
60 to 641,2086.37.55.7
65 to 691,1676.17.75.3
70 to 749124.85.73.9
75 to 798414.44.93.2
80 to 846603.43.92.4
All ages19,143100100100

Selected age groups

AgeDorchester (number)Dorchester (%)Dorset - DCC area (%)England & Wales (%)
Young people 0 to 173,69519.318.621.3
Young adults 18 to 29246712.911.016.1
Older people 65 +4,41523.126.317.0

Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2012 Mid Year Estimates

Poundbury population

Poundbury is included in the figures above but data extracted from the 2011 Census shows:

The latest population estimate for Poundbury (2011 Census) is 2,266 residents. Of these

412 (18.2%) were aged 0-15
1,405 (62.0%) were aged 16-64
404 (17.8%) aged 65-84
45 (2.0%) aged 85 plus.

Historic population


Source: ONS Census


Dorchester pyramid area:
13 first schools, 3 middle schools, 1 upper school, 1 secondary school,
The secondary school for the town
The Thomas Hardye School
(Comprehensive - 2,283 pupils- 2011).

See more information on The Thomas Hardye School (opens in a new window)

Commercial land

Between 1994-2013, 9.6 hectares of employment land has been developed in Dorchester. The total area of land with permission or allocated in the local plan is 26.82 hectares.


Domestic burglaries

Rate per 1,000 households

DCC Dorset6.
South West14.812.310.78.98.4n/a8.
England and Wales20.018.6 (GB)14.413.513.1n/a12.211.611.110.5

Please note: Due to the low prevailing level of offences, and the often sporadic nature of burglary, rates for small geographical areas can vary significantly from year to year
Source: Dorset County Council

Other sources of crime data

Access the  Police crime mapping Dorchester (opens in a new window) where you can find crime data on a month by month basis (starting December 2010) mapped to neighbourhood and street level. This looks at the crime types of burglary, anti-social behaviour, robbery, vehicle crime, violent crime and other crime. Note this comprehensive and up-to-date database only looks at numbers of crimes and not crime rates for individual crimes. It does give an overall crime rate (per 1,000 people) for the neighbourhood.

Housing growth


Housing development63170101103153140124167


Housing development19018910716784143196236

Note: Figures allow for losses from re-development etc.

The 2011 Census records 8,996 dwellings in Dorchester.

Since 2011, a further 432 units have been built giving a total of  9,428. At March 2013, a further 1,809 units have permission and 100 are allocated in the local plan.

The Prince Charles inspired development at Poundbury has grown since it started in 1994. By 2013, 1,253 dwellings have been built. At the same date the site potential (with permission, allocated or under construction) was for a further 1,403 units, making a total of 2,656.

Follow this link for further details on the Residential development at Poundbury, Dorchester

Index of deprivation, 2010

(Figures show LSOA ranking out of 247 LSOAs in Dorset with 1 being the most deprived)LSOA = Lower Super Output Area (minimum 400 households or 1,000 population).

SOAMultipleIncomeEmploymentHealthEducation & SkillsHousing & servicesCrimeLiving
Dorchester Castle Park1521566078110131180221
Dorchester Manor Park242247221124246208210224
Dorchester Monmouth Road229213208162236206212154
Dorchester Queen's Ave.12882765019124076113
Dorchester Town Centre151611101681452880
Dorchester Victoria Park6886924959228969
Fordington East241516142717212099
Fordington Fields18316213614215582222206
Fordington West & Thomas Hardye180118100139180186170174
Poundbury North13789106861881665979
Poundbury South41413139532303875

Please see The Index of Deprivation, 2010 for detailed information and mapping. 

Source: DCLG

Poverty indicators: housing/council tax benefit: March 2013 

SettlementBenefit populationTotal population

% benefit population
(% of total 
settlement population)

Bere Regis3051,74517.5%
Charminster/Charlton Down3792,94012.9%
Corfe Castle1901,35514.0%
Corfe Mullen94810,1339.4%
Lyme Regis5273,67114.4%
Lytchett Matravers3703,42410.8%
Lytchett Minster/Upton1,3387,98316.8%
St Leonards & St Ives5366,8597.8%
Sturminster Marshall1991,96910.1%
Sturminster Newton6644,29215.5%
West Moors9817,56113.0%
Dorset ( DCC area)---

Source: DCC

ACORN socio-economic classifications, 2010

% Wealthy achievers40.114.7
% Urban prosperity7.117.4
% Comfortably off33.238.4
% Moderate means9.214.8
% Hard pressed10.214.3
% unclassified0.20.4

ACORN is a geodemographic segmentation of the UK's population which segments small neighbourhoods, postcodes, or consumer households into five categories, 17 groups and 56 types.
The five higher level categories, wealthy achievers, urban prosperity, comfortably off, moderate means and hard pressed are shown above.

A full profile of the town and its four wards is available.   You can access the Dorchester ACORN Profile (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window) for this information.

Average house prices

Dwelling typeAverage price  July - Sept 2009Average price  July - Sept 2010July - Sept 2010 (sales)Average price  July - Sept 2011July - Sept 2011(sales)Average price  July - Sept 2012July - Sept 2012(sales)

Land Registry average prices (Prices may be affected by low number of sales). Figures include postcodes sectors DT1 1, DT1 2 and DT1 3.

Tenure - 2011 Census

% of all households

AreaOwner occupied (%)Shared ownership (%)Social rented (%)Private rented (%)Living rent free (%)

Source: ONS


Approx. 'built-up' area = 550 hectares (1,360 acres)

Local authority revenue

Council tax band D for YearCouncil tax payable

Second/holiday and empty homes, 2014

Total dwellings on council tax register9,337
Total number of second homes150
Second homes as a % of total dwellings1.6

Source: Council Tax Register (parish figure, rounded)

Ethnicity (%) - 2011 Census

EthnicityDorchesterWest DorsetDorset (DCC area)
% white British94.295.795.5
% Black and minority ethnic groups (BME)

 Source: Office for National Statistics, 2011 Census

Country of birth (%) - 2011 Census

Country of birthDorchesterWest DorsetDorset (DCC area)
% born in England90.391.391.0
% born rest of UK3.23.13.4
% born in Rep of IRE0.50.40.4
% born EU (member countries in 2001)
% born EU (Accession countries April 2001 to March 2011)
% born elsewhere4.03.43.1

 Source: Office for National Statistics, 2011 Census

Health - 2011 Census (% of population)

Health profiles

Public Health England provides 2013 health profiles down to ward level. Dorchester has 4 wards

Dorchester North - 2013 health Profile Dorchester North Ward (opens in a new window)

Dorchester East -    2013 Health Profiles Dorchester East Ward (opens in a new window)  

Dorchester West - 2013 Health Profiles Dorchester West Ward (opens in a new window)

Dorchester South - 2013 Health profiles Dorchester South Ward (opens in a new window)

Health limiting day-to-day activities

Health limiting day to day activitiesDorchesterWest DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Day-to-day activities limited a lot (%)
limited a little (%)11.411.611.5
not limited (%)79.579.779.9
limited a lot: Age 16 to 64 (%)
limited a little: Age 16 to 64 (%)
not limited: Age 16 to 64 (%)52.750.551.1

General health

General healthDorchesterWest DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Very good health (%)45.344.444.6
Good health (%)35.235.935.9
Fair health (%)14.214.714.5
Bad health (%)
Very bad health (%)

Provision of unpaid care

Provision of unpaid careDorchesterWest DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Provides no unpaid care(%)88.888.088.1
Provides 1 to 19 hours unpaid care a week(%)
Provides 20 to 49 hours unpaid care a week(%)
Provides 50 or more hours unpaid care a week(%)

 Source: ONS 2011 Census

Retail profile - total town floorspace

Two areas of the town are currently being developed.  The Charles Street area has a new office for the West Dorset District Council and a new Dorchester Library building under construction at June 2012. This represents phase one of the development, with phase two being a range of retail units.

The other area being developed is the Brewery site, on Weymouth Avenue known as Brewery Square. This is a mix of retail, entertainment, hotel and residential  development - being constructed in four phases.

The town has:

230 shops/274,000sq.ft. (2005)
(excludes 'out of town shops')

Town centre:

Many national chain stores such as Marks & Spencers, Next, Body Shop, Boots, Co-op, Argos, Iceland, Laura Ashley, Monsoon, Waitrose, New Look. Out of Town Shopping: Tesco, Halfords,  Currys. Lidl

Catchment population

The shopping catchment for Dorchester (major food shopping) extends around eight miles in a north, west, east direction but only two miles south towards Weymouth. The population within that catchment is around 38,500 (Mid 2001).

Library - number of issues of books etc:


Industrial estates

Casterbridge Industrial Estate (1.1h), Great Western Centre (1.4h), The Grove Trading Estate (7.1h), Marabout Barracks (2.0h), Poundbury Trading Estate (5.0h), Railway Triangle (1.4h)

Unemployment % (persons)

Follow this link to see the latest monthly unemployment figures for the area.

Proportion of resident population aged 16-64 and actual number


Long Term Unemployed
(% of all unemployed)

July 19983.9 (156)1.8 (63)2.9 (219)-
July 19992.9 (116)1.2 (42)2.1 (158)-
July 20002.8 (113)1.1 (41)2.0 (154)-
July 20011.4 (56)1.0 (36)1.2 (92)-
July 20021.3 (55)0.7 (29)1.0 (84)-
July 20031.3 (60)0.5 (23)0.9 (83)-
July 20041.0 (46)0.4 (20)0.7 (66)3.0
July 20051.5 (71)0.6 (27)1.1 (98)3.1
July 20061.5 (71)0.7 (31)1.1 (102)5.0
July 20071.1 (60)0.6 (31)0.9 (91)7.7
July 20081.2 (63)0.6 (30)0.9 (93)1.1
July 20092.4 (124)1.0 (50)1.7 (174)5.2
July 20102.1(108)0.7 (39)1.4 (147)10.2
July 20112.0 (102)1.0 (54)1.5 (156)5.1
July 20121.9 (99)0.8 (41)1.3 (140)13.1
July 20131.6 (84)0.7 (39)1.2 (123)15.4
July 20141.1 (57)0.6 (33)0.9 (90)17.8

Source: ONS Claimant Count from NOMIS

The wider economy of the area

To see an economic profile of the wider West Dorset area follow this link to the  West Dorset Economy & Labour Market Profile 2013 (pdf, 474kb) (opens in a new window) .

2012 employment

Total number of people working in the town: 17,500 Number of firms (excluding the self-employed): 910 (2009)

Work pattern/gender categorypercentage


Type of employment%
Distribution, accommodation and food17
Finance, ICT and professional services7
Other market services11
Public Admin, education and health57
Other services3

Source: Business Register and Employment Survey, 2012, ONS

Major employers

AEA Technology PLC, BAeSEMA Ltd, Dorset County Council, Goulds Ltd, Henry Ling Ltd, Kingston Maurward College, Tesco, West Dorset District Council, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Winterbourne Hospital.

Car ownership

Area% No cars or vans in household% 1 car or van in household% 2 cars or vans in household% 3 cars or vans in household% 4 or more cars or vans in household
England and Wales25.642.
South West18.943.528.36.72.6

Source: 2011 Census (parish figure)

Traffic counts in the Dorchester area

Annual average daily traffic (AADT) - numbers

A35(T)Kingston Russell6,9009,10012,80014,20014,20013,900
A356Whitesheet Hill1,5002,1002,3002,4002,3002,300
A37Stagg's Folly3,6005,2009,40010,20010,0009,400
A352South of Cerne Abbas1,0001,3001,2001,3001,4001,300
C12Buck Hill1,7002,5003,4003,7003,6003,500
B3143South of Piddletrenthide1,4002,3001,9002,1002,3001,900
A35(T)Yellowham Hill10,90015,20025,30027,70027,80028,000
A352Came Park3,9004,8005,5006,5006,3006,100
A354Monkton Hill10,20015,60019,60020,60022,00024,300
B3159North of Upwey1,1001,1001,5001,7001,6001,100
B3163Toller Down Gate6001,0001,2001,3001,4001,500

Annual average daily traffic - percentage growth

RoadLocation1 year (11-12)5 years(07-12)10 years (02-12)22 years (90-12)28 years (83-12)
A35(T)Kingston Russell-2.1%-2%9%53%101%
A356Whitesheet Hill0.0%-4%0%10%53%
A37Stagg's Folly-6.0%-8%0%81%161%
A352South of Cerne Abbas-7.1%0%8%0%30%
C12Buck Hill-2.8%-5%3%40%106%
B3143South of Piddletrenthide-17.4%-10%0%-17%36%
A35(T)Yellowham Hill0.7%1%11%84%157%
A352Came Park-3.2%-6%11%27%56%
A354Monkton Hill10.5%18%24%56%138%
B3159North of Upwey-31.3%-35%-27%0%0%
B3163Toller Down Gate7.1%15%25%50%150%

Source: Dorset County Council Environment Directorate 2013

Local authorities

Dorset County Council
County Hall, Colliton Park, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1XJ
01305 221000

West Dorset District Council
South walks House
South Walks Road
Dorset, DT1 1UZ
01305 251010

Dorchester Town Council contact details

Useful websites

Dorchester Town Council (opens in a new window)

Dorchester Town Website (opens in a new window)

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