Contact Us

If you would like to contact Upper Marshwood Vale Parish Council, please use the details below.

Clerk to the Council
5 Halletts Way
EX13 5NB

Tel: 01297 34444

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Quality Council Status

Quality Parish CouncilUpper Marshwood Vale Parish Council were awarded Quality Council status on the 23rd March 2013

Neighbourhood Plan

This page documents the activities of the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) Steering Committee and the sequence of events which led to the approval of the plan and provides links to all related documents.

Chair: Charles Somers
Secretary: John Vanderwolfe, Upper Marshwood Vale (UMV) parish council clerk.
Members: Matthew Bowditch; chair of the UMV parish council; Ali Cameron, UMV parish councillor; Ali Edwards, UMV parish councillor; Rob England, chair of the Marshwood Community Land Trust; David French, Stoke Abbott resident; Helen Golding, chair of the Marshwood Shop Committee; Sara Hudston, ‘Beneath The Vale’ parish magazine editor; John Piper, UMV parish councillor and NP committee treasurer; Jacqui Sewell, UMV parish councillor.

2014: Meetings were held at Bettiscombe as follows:

19 Jun, an initial meeting was held at Bettiscombe with representatives of the parish councils of UMV, Char Valley and Netherbury together with WDDC who made a presentation on the NP process (minutes and WDDC presentation).

6 Aug, a 2nd meeting to discuss possible NP cooperation between adjacent parish councils (possibly Thorncombe, Netherbury and Hawkchurch) and the availability of support funding, the earliest available being from April 2015 (minutes).

23 Oct, a 3rd meeting to establish a NP Steering Committee and to discuss possible content, this led by Mike Robinson appointed as chair (minutes).

2015: NP Steering Committee meetings were held on 21 Oct and 2 Dec at Axminster, with representation from UMV and Hawkchurch parishes, to discuss tasks and to plan activities.  A prospective consultant was interviewed and invited to make an offer for NP support services (Oct 21 minutes and Dec 2 minutes). WDDC approved the UMV NP boundary in August 2015 (NP map) and Locality approved funding (ref. and date approved) An application was made by UMV PC to WDDC to establish the boundary for their NP and to Locality ( for support funding.

A NP consultant was appointed in January and provided initial NP public consultation guidance and documentation which was discussed at a committee meeting on 11 Feb (minutes) together with plans for a first public consultation session to be held at Blackdown in late February.

26/27 Feb-2016, A first public consultation meeting was held at Blackdown Village Hall (public notice and outcome summary).

4 March-2016, NP presentation made to Marshwood Primary school aimed at getting the school children involved through an ‘A-to-Z’ project (presentation).

6 May-2016: public consultation held at Marshwood church.

12 May-2016: public consultation held at Stoke Abbot Village Hall (public notice and outcome summary)

16 June-2016, NP Steering Group meeting was held at Bettiscombe (minutes).

29 June-2016, 3rd public consultation meeting was held at Bettiscombe Village Hall (notice) but had a very low turn-out and hence no outcome.

October-2016, NP web-site and Facebook Page established ( and the NP questionnaire finalised

December-2106: NP questionnaires were distributed with the Christmas issue of the Beneath The Vale magazine.

May-Jun 2017, NP Questionnaire responses. We received over 100 responses to our NP questionnaires sent out before Christmas, analysed those and held two public meetings to present the findings. The first meeting was at Marshwood church on the 6th of May and the second at Stoke Abbott village hall on the 3rd of June.

We presented at those meetings:

  • progress review prepared by our NP consultant outlining our situation and the likely timetable to develop our plan, this together with a more detailed document;
  • report on the NP questionnaire returns, a list of people’s comments on each question and a table of the benefits and challenges people saw of living here;
  • our proposed ‘vision and goals’ for the plan. At both of these meetings we received strong public support to continue our steering committee’s work towards producing a first draft of the NP document and we will be reporting on our progress as we go along, also via our quarterly parish magazine Beneath The Vale the next issue of which is due out in early July

August-2017: NP committee meeting to decide format of ‘call-for-sites’.

December-2017: Call-for-sites document issued with the Christmas issue of the parish magazine. This called on land owners in the Upper Marshwood Vale parishes, of Marshwood, Bettiscombe, Pilsdon and Stoke Abbott, willing to offer land to contribute to sustaining our community over the next 20 years, to contact us as we develop our Neighbourhood Plan.

June-2018: Marshwood shop closes.

July-2018: public meeting at Marshwood church (21st) and at Stoke Abbott village hall (22nd) to present a site options report and 1st attempt to obtain responses

Aug-2018, Call for sites. A new site (see Site Options document) was added to our list, a field opposite the school in Marshwood, and the Options Consultation Questionnaire was modified accordingly.

Sept-2018: 2nd attempt to obtain responses on site options, resulting in 50 returns.

Nov 2018, Site options consultation and of a follow-up public meeting: We received 50 replies to our site options consultation. There was strong support for finding a replacement for the village shop, recently closed, and also for the provision of extra parking at the school though neither of the school sites is possible unless housing is supported. A subsequent public meeting found support for housing if that would result in a car park and a site for a new shop. No further sites for homes were supported, only one site for live/work units. A long-term project for a communal sewage treatment plant for Marshwood did not receive support with a perceived lack of benefit for those who do not live in the centre of Marshwood. A report on the consultation and the shop/car park meeting are here.

Following on from the call-for-sites process run earlier in the year, reports were produced on Housing Need and Site Options (see above), together with a Business Plan for the area and a Policies Statement. All of these documents were presented at our meetings and participants requested to fill in an Options Consultation Questionnaire.

Jan-Feb 2019: completion of site visits by consultants to prepare ecology and heritage reports

March 2019. NP committee meeting to discuss site options and the planned content of a draft NP and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

May-Jun 2019, Neighbourhood Plan pre-consultation. A 6-week public pre- consultation on our draft Neighbourhood Plan was open from Tuesday 7 May to Tuesday 18 June 2019. There were 56 return forms completed, of some 100 distributed, which was not a bad response rate. Of these, 44 were from Marshwood, Bettiscombe and Pilsdon, 7 from Stoke Abbott and 5 from others not in our parishes but with an interest in the NP. A further four comments were submitted via the NP website. There was strong support for the overall plan with many suggestions for minor changes: there were also general objections, around 10% of responses. The support level on the specific sites (Colmer and Three Counties) was also strong, again with suggestions for minor changes and there were also several objections, again around 10% of responses.

Responses were carefully considered and resulted in some changes to the plan.  A revised version of the NP, together with supporting documents, was presented to the parish council at their meeting of 18 July and approved for submission to Dorset Council. All documents were sent to Dorset Council on the 19th of July and were published on the NP web-site once the final consultation process had begun Pre- consultation documents can be viewed here:

Aug-Oct 2019, Dorset Council NP consultation. An 8-week full consultation on our updated Neighbourhood Plan (NP) was conducted by Dorset Council, as explained in their press release, starting on Monday the 19th of August and closing on Monday the 14th of October. All related documents are available on the Dorset Council website including a consultation form to be returned to Dorset Council. A printed copy of the NP was made available to review at the garage and school in Marshwood and at the New Inn in Stoke Abbott: some printed copies of the consultation form were also made available to fill in and return to Dorset council although these were available on the NP website and that of Dorset Council.  A copy of the NP and consultation forms was also be made available at the coffee afternoon held at Marshwood church on the 18th of August.

October 2019, NP Examiner’s questions and committee responses. In late October 2019 an examiner was appointed by Dorset Council to review the NP and the consultation responses which had been received and we made initial comments to him on those. The NP examiner submitted some questions on our plan and we provided answers to these on the 15th of November. Dorset Council was also asked to provide answers to examiner’s questions and these can be seen here on their website.

Jan-Feb 2020 NP Referendum. Following examination of the NP, Dorset Council agreed to enable the plan, as amended, and to proceed to a referendum. The Council released a Decision statement to this effect. The referendum was held on 14 Feb 2020 across the Upper Marshwood Vale neighbourhood area at polling stations at Bettiscombe and Stoke Abbott. The information made available prior to the referendum was:

14 Feb 2020, NP Referendum result: The results of the 13 Feb referendum were as follows: in favour: 79; against: 35; turnout: 22%. The majority of those voting did so in favour of the plan and Dorset Council proceeded to ‘make’ the plan via a full council decision.

5 May 2020, Dorset Council NP approval. The Neighbourhood Plan (final version here) completed its full consultation process and was approved by Dorset Council: all planning applications submitted from our area from now on will have to take account of what is in the plan. The plan sets out the vision for the years ahead but can be reviewed and revised if needed should priorities change.


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