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Swanage - Coastal management
Swanage - Community Action Plan
Swanage - Flood alleviation

Swanage - Community Action Plan

Swanage is located on the A351 and the east coast of Purbeck and is the largest town in the district. Swanage also shares many of its amenities and services with some of its surrounding villages:
  • Harmans Cross
  • Kingston
  • Worth Matravers
  • Langton Matravers
  • Studland
  • Corfe Castle

In 1086 Swanage was recorded as having 30 inhabitants, mostly fishermen. By the 18th Century the main industry became the stone industry and it is worth noting that even in Roman times marble was quarried from the Purbeck area. This led to rapid growth for the town. John Mowlem and his nephew George Burt made great improvements to the town including:

  • Roads
  • Waterworks
  • A town hall
  • Pier
  • Railway

Tourism in the area grew and with the decline of the stone industry between 1885 and 1896 it became the main industry in Swanage, and continues to be today. Purbeck is one of the most attractive areas in Britain to live, with beautiful landscapes and many sites of great wildlife interest. Twenty four per cent of the Purbeck area is designated SSSI, virtually the entire coastline is designated World Heritage site, and south part of district AONB Swanage offers a wide range of attractions and facilities, from award winning beaches to historical trails, exhibitions, and several festivals. Swanage also provides a series of services not only for itself but for many of its surrounding areas.

Tourism of course brings many benefits. Tourism in all of Dorset generates about £800 million a year and employs 37,000 directly or indirectly in the sector. However there are also some negatives to tourism; traffic congestion and parking problems, overcrowding, affordable housing issues, inappropriate development and damage to the environment. The coastal managers and tourism operators need to co-ordinate in order to maintain the town for both residents and tourists.

Over the past two years numerous organisations and individuals have been working together to produce two documents that provide a way forward at District level with the Community Planning process. They focus on the long-term concerns and challenges that affect local culture, economy, environment, and social issues now and in the future. There is the Swanage Community Strategic Plan and the Purbeck Community Action Plan.

The objective of the Swanage Community Strategic Plan is simply to help provide long-term improvement in the quality of life of everyone living and visiting Swanage and the surrounding rural areas. It documents a process which has enabled the community to assess the current situation and then to look forward over a 20 year period and make sustainable plan accordingly.

The MCTI (The Market and Coastal Towns Initiative) working group has been instrumental in developing and finally delivering this 20 year plan for Swanage. The cost of this research was supported by partners, including Purbeck District Council and DCC, together with a contribution from the South West Regional Development agency.

Main priorities

  • Identify a clear vision for the town's future
  • Bring together information about Swanage and its environs
  • Identify the main goals necessary to improve the quality of life in Swanage and the strategies to achieve them
  • Identify and priortise specific projects for achieving those goals
  • Provide a baseline which can be used to monitor and evaluate the projects when implemented

Purbeck Community Action Plan

This plan will help attract more investment and funding in Purbeck both in the long and short term that will support communities and bring wider economic development opportunities. The plan will address social, economic and environmental issues to improve the social structure of our communities, strengthen the local economy and enhance the environment. In doing so it should improve the quality of life and better meet the needs of the people of Purbeck, whilst maintaining the Districts environment for future generations.

Main Priorities

The plan aims to focus resources on three key actions under each one of the five priority themes.

  • Crime reduction
  • Affordable housing
  • Transport
  • Healthy lifestyle
  • Young people

Since these plans share goals in improving the quality of life for the residents and visitors to Swanage for the purposes of our field work and data collection they can be considered as one.

Data collection

A range of methods could be used:

  • Transect - mapping of the town, industrial and housing location
  • Point sampling - Pedestrian flow/traffic flow at points along the transect. This is a timed count
  • Environmental quality survey - Bi-polar survey using typical environmental quality measures
  • Questionnaire

Environmental and social indicators

  • Evidence of anti-social behaviour
  • Evidence of graffiti
  • Traffic travelling too fast
  • Parking restrictions not adhered to
  • Lack of public transport services
  • Lack of leisure services
  • Litter a problem
  • Also, keep an eye out for skips as a sign of gentrification. When areas are being redeveloped and improved, this is a sign that areas are attracting new investment. Look also at the number of empty properties or 'to let' signs

Secondary data collection

  • House prices across Swanage
  • Local papers - types of job advertised - seasonal, full time, skilled etc.
  • Look at the history of Swanage - Identification of past activity by street names

The results from these should enable groups to analyse the situation in Swanage at the moment, the effectiveness of any developments put in place already and plans for the future.

Site overview

Settlements - Coastal town of Swanage

Key Points

  • History of Swanage
  • Tourism in Swanage
  • Balancing the needs of the tourist industry with the needs of the local community
  • How can tourism development be managed to allow economic benefits without cultural or environmental costs?
  • The challenges of managing urban environments. How planners and decision makers are attempting to resolve these challenges?
  • The Swanage Community Strategic Plan: Focuses on the long-term concerns and challenges that affect local culture, economy, environment, and social issues now and in the future.It documents a process which has enabled the community to assess the current situation and then to look forward over a 20 year period and make sustainable plan accordingly
  • Look at the priority issues in Purbeck including; Affordable housing, Transport, and Healthy lifestyle

Project/hypothesis ideas

  • What are the economic and environmental impacts of tourism on the CBD?
  • With reference to primary and secondary data put forward a report to show that the main function of the town is tourism
  • How has tourism influenced the quality of building and land use change in Swanage?
  • How does proximity to coast influence characteristics of the built environment?
  • How have tourism and second homes influenced the character of Swanage?
  • Second homes - a blessing or bane
  • What are the challenges of managing urban environments?


  • If sharing data make sure that in pedestrian/traffic counts the same decisions are made about what to count eg pushchairs, bikes etc.
  • If possible carry out questionnaires at different times of day/year if not note when they are done and how this could affect the results

Data collection

  • Mapping of town
    • Housing
    • Industry
    • Services
  • Environmental and social quality indicators
  • Environmental quality survey
  • Evidence of changing industry and service provision
  • Questionnaires
  • Pedestrian/traffic counts
  • Secondary data, for example housing prices and jobs

Review - Statistical

  • Changing land-use through time

Review - Presentation

  • Bi-polar surveys
  • Map of town - Land use past and present
  • Isopleth Map - Pedestrian numbers

Curriculum links

Links to Key Stage 3 Specifications

Geographical enquiry and skills
1 Undertaking geographical enquiry:
1b - Suggest appropriate sequences of investigation (gathering views and factual evidence about a local issue)
1c - Collect, record and present evidence
1d - Analyse and evaluate evidence and draw and justify conclusions
1e - Appreciate how people's values and attitudes affect issues

2 Developing geographical skills:
2a - To use an extended geographical vocabulary
2b - To select appropriate fieldwork techniques and instruments

Knowledge and understanding of places
3c - Describe physical and human features that give rise to the distinctive character of places
3d - Explain how and why changes happen in places, and the issues that arise from these changes

Knowledge and understanding of patterns and processes
4a - Describe and explain patterns of physical and human features
4b - Identify, describe and explain physical and human processes and their impact on places and environments

Breadth of study
6f - Population
6g - Settlement
6h - Economic activity
6j - Environmental issues and management
7c - Carry out fieldwork investigations outside the classroom

Links to GCSE Specifications

GCSE Specification AQA-A People and the Human Environment
• 10.2 Settlement (Settlements vary in size, site, function and structure)
• 10.5 Managing resources (Tourism in MECs sans LEDCs and its consequences)

GCSE Specification AQA-A Human Environment Topics
• 10.1 Settlements (Settlements vary in size, structure and different urban zones have different characteristics)
• 10.3 Managing resources (Environments offer possibilities for tourism development)

GCSE Specification AQA-B The United Kingdom
• 9.6 Understanding the modern urban environment (Settlements in the Isle of Purbeck).

GCSE Specification AQA-C managing Economic Development
• 9.12 Tourism and Economy (How can tourism development be managed to allow economic benefits without cultural or environmental costs).

Links to A Level Specifications

OCR - A The Human Environment
• 5.2.2 Rural and urban Settlement pattern, process and change (The population changes in MEDCs since 1960s)

OCR - B Human Systems and Their Management
• 5.2.2 Settlement Dynamics (How are the form and functions of settlement changing? Why? How successful has been the planning response to these changes?)

Edexcel Geography A unit 2 Human Environments
• 2.2 Settlement patterns - urban areas (Analysis of land-use patterns in the central area of a town. Analysis of redevelopment and land-use changes in a town centre)

Edexcel Geography B Unit 2 Managing Change in Human Environments
• Urban Environments 2.8 (What are the challenges of managing urban environments? How do planners and decision makers attempt to resolve these challenges? What is the balance between private and public provision? How successful are the strategies of planners and decision makers in improving the quality of life for all urban dwellers?)

AQA - A Module 1: Core Concepts in Physical geography
• 12.2 Settlement Processes and Patterns (Settlement structure)
• 11.3 economic Activity (Components and primary activities, secondary activities, tertiary and other activities)
• 14.3 Recreation and Tourism (Tourism and the environment, tourism and development)

AQA - B Module 3: The Human Options
• 12.2 Option T The Historical Rural and Urban landscapes of England and Wales (Evolution of urban and rural landscapes, Rural and urban landscapes as resources to be protected, but also used.)



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