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Shaftesbury town profile

Shaftesbury is one of the oldest towns in England. The town overlooks the Blackmore Vale, and combined with its history and architectural character, it is certainly one of the most attractive.

The steep, cobbled Gold Hill is probably one of the most famous streets in the country. The town is the main shopping and service centre for the surrounding area, and provides a range of educational, health and recreational facilities, as well as its own art centre and museum.


Shaftesbury is located halfway between Blandford and Warminster on the A350, 7 miles south of the A303. The nearest railway station is at Gillingham, 4 miles away.


Latest population figure (2012 Mid year estimates) for the town (Shaftesbury Parish) is 7,707

Age GroupShaftesbury (persons)Shaftesbury (%)Dorset(DCC Area)(%)England and Wales(%)
0 to44686.14.76.3
5 to 94325.64.95.7
10 to 144325.65.45.6
15 to 194716.15.86.2
20 to 243945.14.66.8
25 to 294095.34.26.8
30 to 344165.44.46.7
35 to 394606.04.96.4
40 to 445477.16.57.2
45 to 495326.97.37.3
50 to 545006.57.16.6
55 to 594405.76.65.7
60 to 644996.57.55.7
65 to 694616.07.75.3
70 to 743454.55.73.9
75 to 793074.04.93.2
80 to 842603.43.92.4
All ages7,707100100100

selected age groups

AgeShaftesbury (number)Shaftesbury (%)Dorset - DCC area (%)England & Wales (%)
Young people 0 to 171,63721.218.621.3
Young adults 18 to 2996912.611.016.1
Older people 65 +1,70722.126.317.0

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

Historic population

Census population1,8102,8203,3003,3703,9803,9406,1806,6707,314


Shaftesbury pyramid area:
4 primary schools, 1 secondary school.
The secondary school for the area
Shaftesbury School and Sports College (1,053 pupils in 2011).

For further information on Shaftesbury School (opens in a new window)

Commercial land

Between 1994-2013, 5.42 hectares of industrial land has been developed in Shaftesbury. The total area of land with permission or allocated in local plans is 7.96 hectares


Domestic burglaries

Rate per 1,000 households

Shaftesbury12.2 n/a3.810.9 3.22.2
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 Shaftesbury (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 development262910057546336043734469322062

The 2011 Census records 3,493 dwellings in Shaftesbury.
Since 2011, a further 282 have been built giving a total of 3,775. At March 2013, a further 365 units have permission and 0 are allocated in the local plan.

Note: Figures allow for losses from re-development etc. Method revised 2009.

Index of deprivation, 2010

(Figures show SOA ranking out of 247 SOAs in Dorset with 1 being the most deprived)

SOA = Super Output Area (minimum 400 households or 1,000 population)

SOAMultipleIncomeEmploymentHealthEducation & SkillsHousing & servicescrimeLiving
Shaftesbury Central473239484018764110
Shaftesbury Christy's226194236200132154221219
Shaftesbury Grosvenor103768112742108122186
Shaftesbury Underhill174184170752231426390

Our The Index of Deprivation, 2010 article includes detailed information and mapping. 


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

Socio-economic classifications, 2010 ACORN

% Wealthy Achievers40.132.3
% Urban Prosperity7.12.1
% Comfortably Off33.243.2
% Moderate Means9.214.6
% Hard Pressed10.27.6
% unclassified0.20.2

ACORN is a geodemographic segmentation of the UK's population which segments small neighbourhoods, postcodes, or consumer households into 5 categories, 17 groups and 56 types.
The 5 higher level categories "wealthy achievers", "urban prosperity", "comfortably off", "moderate means" and "hard pressed" are shown above.

A full ACORN Profile for the town, with mapping of the wards is available. View the Shaftesbury ACORN Profile (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window).

Average house prices

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

Land Registry average prices  (Prices may be affected by low number of sales). Data based on the postcode sector SP7 8.

Tenure - 2011 Census

% of all households

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

Source: ONS


Approx 'built-up' area = 310 hectares (766 acres)

Local authority revenue

Council tax band D for YearCouncil tax payable

Second/holiday homes 2014

Total dwellings on Council Tax Register3,841
Total number of second homes47
Second homes as a % of total dwellings1.2

Source: Council Tax Register (parish figure)

Ethnicity (%) - 2011 Census

EthnicityShaftesburyNorth DorsetDorset (DCC area)
% white British93.394.795.5
% Black and minority ethnic groups (BME)

 Source: Office for National Statistics, 2011 Census

Country of birth (%) - 2011 Census

Country of birthShaftesburyNorth DorsetDorset (DCC area)
% born in England89.089.791.0
% born rest of UK3.03.43.4
% born in Rep of IRE0.40.30.4
% born EU (member countries in 2001)
% born EU (Accession countries April 2001 to March 2011)
% born elsewhere4.23.63.1

 Source: Office for National Statistics, 2011 Census

Health - 2011 Census (% of population)

Health Limiting day-to-day Activities

Health limiting day to day activitiesShaftesburyNorth DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Day-to-day activities limited a lot (%)
limited a little(%)10.610.411.5
not limited(%)82.482.579.9
limited a lot: Age 16 to 64(%)
limited a little: Age 16 to 64(%)
not limited: Age 16 to 64(%)53.353.651.1

General Health

General healthShaftesburyNorth DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Very good health(%)46.447.844.6
Good health(%)
Fair health(%)13.512.814.5
Bad health(%)
Very bad health(%)

Provision of Unpaid Care

Provision of unpaid careShaftesburyNorth DorsetDorset (DCC area)
Provides no unpaid care(%)90.089.488.1
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

75 shops/78,000sq.ft. (2005)

Town centre:

Mainly small shops but includes nationals such as Body Shop, Boots,  Somerfield, Superdrug and W H Smiths. Tesco's is based outside the main shopping area.

Catchment population:

The shopping catchment for Shaftesbury (major food shopping) extends around 4.5 miles in a N,S,E, & W direction, partly into Wiltshire. The Dorset population within that catchment is around 11,200  (mid 2001).

Library - Number of issues of books etc


Industrial estates 

Longmead Industrial Estate (7.7h), Wincombe Business Park (6.5h).

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)

YearMaleFemaleTotalLong term unemployed
(% of all unemployed)
July 19983.1 (49)  1.3 (20) 2.2 (69)-
July 19992.6 (42) 0.9 (14) 1.8 (56)-
July 20001.9 (33)0.9 (15) 1.4 (48)-
July 20011.0 (18)0.8 (15) 0.9 (33)-
July 20021.3 (28)0.5 (9) 0.9 (37)-
July 20031.0 (26)0.3 (7) 0.7 (33)-
July 2004 1.3 (26) 0.5 (9) 0.9 (35)8.8
July 2005 0.9 (17) 0.5 (10)0.7 (27)7.4
July 20061.4 (28)0.7 (12)1.1 (40)0.0
July 2007 1.0 (20)0.5 (10)0.8 (30)13.3
July 20081.0 (20)0.3 (6)0.7 (26)0.0
July 20091.8 (36)1.0 (19)1.4 (55)3.6
July 20101.7 (34)0.8 (17)1.2 (51)9.8
July 20111.9 (33)1.4 (27)1.7 (60)8.5
July 20121.8 (31)1.2 (27)1.5 (53)26.4
July 20132.6 (45)1.4 (27)2.0 (72)23.6
July 20141.2 (20)0.7 (13)0.9 (33)24.2

Source: ONS Claimant count

The wider economy of the area

To see an economic profile of the wider North Dorset area follow this link to the  North Dorset Economy & Labour Market Profile 2013 (pdf, 463kb) (opens in a new window) .

2012 Employment

Total number of people working in the town: 3,400

Number of firms (excluding the self employed): 310 (2009)

Work patternpercentage
Type of employment%
Production and construction29
Distribution, accommodation and food26
Finance, ICT and professional services6
Other market services7
Public Admin, education and health31

Figures exclude farm agriculture.

Source: Annual Source: Business Register and Employment Survey, 2012, ONS

Major employers

Blackmore Press, Dorset Chilled Foods, Dorset County Council,
HMYOI Guys Marsh, Pork Farms, Port Regis School, Royal Mail, Somerfield,
Stalbridge Linen Services, Tesco, Wessex Electricals.

Traffic counts in the Shaftesbury area - annual average daily traffic

Flows - actual number

Road numberLocation198319902002200720112012
A350North of Shaftesbury4,7007,0009,00010,2009,5009,800
B3081West of Gillingham1,8003,0004,2004,3004,7004,600
B3081South of Shaftesbury3,7005,4007,6007,6007,6007,400
A30East of Shaftesbury5,2005,7006,3006,8006,6006,400
A350North of Shaftesbury4,7007,0009,00010,2009,5009,800
A30West of Shaftesbury (Long Cross)n/an/an/a5,7005,9006,300

Growth of Daily traffic Flows

Road numberLocation1 Year

5 year

10 Years
22 Years

28 Years

A350North of Shaftesbury3.2%-4%9%40%109%
B3081West of Gillingham-2.1%7%10%53%156%
B3081South of Shaftesbury-2.6%-3%-3%37%100%
A30East of Shaftesbury-3.0%-6%2%12%23%
A350North of Shaftesbury3.2%-4%9%40%109%
A30West of Shaftesbury (Long Cross)6.8%11%n/an/an/a

Source: Dorset County Council Environment Directorate June 2013

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)

Local authorities

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

North Dorset District Council
Nordon, Salisbury Road, Blandford Forum, Dorset DT11 7LL
01258 454111

Shaftesbury Town Council contact details

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