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An overview of planning constraints in Dorset

There are a range of constraints that may need to be considered when developing in Dorset.

Dorset is a county with a varied geology and range of landscapes.

We have one of the highest concentrations in the country, of:

  • archaeological features
  • areas of national or international importance for nature conservation

The range of features add to its scenic value and make it exceptional for its biodiversity. This means Dorset is one of the most constrained counties in southern England; particularly when looking at the scope for possible new built development.

We advise applicants and agents to seek detailed advice as early as they can. This will help to highlight the range of constraints that affect areas they would like to develop.

DorsetExplorer provides an overview of the information that can be a helpful start. Once you have some basic details we suggest you contact the relevant district, borough or county council for site specific detail.

Dorset's rural environment includes:

  • Green Belt drawn tightly up against the edge of the built-up area in south-east Dorset
  • 31 historic parks and gardens (with protection of the features and their wider setting)
  • some 141 SSSIs - including extensive areas of UK Priority Habitat with:
    • 11,620 hectares of Special Protection Area (areas of European importance for wild birds)
    • 12,760 hectares of candidate Special Areas of Conservation (habitat of European importance)
    • 10,350 hectares of internationally important wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention,
    • 1,250 Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (sites of at least County level importance)

Additionally, large areas of rural Dorset contain important mineral resources, identified in mineral policy documents.  Most of these resources are safeguarded from future development of land.  

The Minerals Strategy 2014 identifies both the Mineral Consultation Area and the Mineral Safeguarding Area which seek to protect the important mineral resources in line with advice provided in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Minerals Strategy 2014 provides more information on Mineral Safeguarding at Chapter 14.  Applicants are advised to read the relevant sections of the Minerals Strategy 2014.

Both the built up, and rural, areas within Dorset include important features which may need to be considered as part of any development proposal:

  • over 9,500 listed buildings (nationally important for their architectural or historical interest)
  • 190 conservation areas protected for their special architectural or historic interest

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