The Purbeck Plateau is the only limestone plateau in Dorset. It has a simple but striking character represented by its exposed and treeless appearance. A long tradition of stone extraction has left its mark, shaping a near continuous network of geometric stone walls, extraction routes and small quarries dotted across the area. Limestone villages and grasslands add to the character of this unique landscape type.


Landscape change

  • Policy driven farming changes over the last seventy years have resulted in concentration of stock levels.  This has limited the availability of livestock to graze land of low agricultural, but high environmental value such as limestone grasslands.
  • There is a trend toward the conversion of traditional farm buildings into holiday lets, particularly toward the coast.
  • There has been a change of character along rural lanes due to road engineering, particularly concrete kerbing and signage toward Swanage.
  • Pressure for new residential development is threatening the distinctiveness of settlement patterns. Peripheral settlement growth, along with caravan parks, adversely impact on the open character of the landscape.
  • Agriculture is becoming more market driven, with the intensification of production and pressure for farm diversification. This may result in short term changes in agricultural patterns in the landscape.
  • There is likely to be further pressure for new development on the fringes of larger villages, including redevelopment of agricultural buildings to residential, amenity or industrial use.