Lulworth Wooded Pasture

Lulworth Park has a mixed character but is dominated by an intimate parkland landscape and castle set within low rolling hills.

Lulworth Park has a mixed character but is dominated by an intimate parkland landscape and castle set within low rolling hills. With its many woodland blocks and fine stands of veteran trees, it has a sense of harmony and enclosure. Nucleated settlements are generally well hidden within the pastoral landscape of woodlands and trees, with the exception of West Lulworth. The army ranges to the south also influence the landscape where it becomes more open in character. The western part of the area has a starker appearance, with the open arable chalk landscapes and the presence of Lulworth Camp. It is influenced by the chalk ridge to the south with a gradual transition to heathland and scrub towards the east. Isolated farmsteads are scattered within medium sized rectangular fields and connected by narrow winding lanes.

  • Mosaic of pastures, woodland blocks and dense hedgerows with trees including, dense small oak, ash and birch woodlands and hazel coppice, as well as small patches of unimproved neutral and acidic wet grasslands and heathy patches. A significant proportion of the area is nationally designated for its ecological value
  • Low rolling hills with an intimate and enclosed character
  • Fine panoramic views within the coastal portion, including highly valued features of the exceptional undeveloped coast
  • A rich historic and built character including small villages with winding lanes and an extensive sweeping parkland landscape and castle with veteran trees and parkland boundary features
  • Occasional barrows and traces of prehistoric field patterns
  • Significant cultural significance linked with the iconic Lulworth coast, including artistic associations and the role of the coastline as a geological textbook
  • Tranquility, remoteness and undeveloped character have been largely maintained, particularly away from the coast where the impact of visitor related activity is lower

Land shape and structure

The landscape is of gently rolling terrain with soft London clay and Poole formations of sedimentary origin. This contrasts to the surrounding open heathlands, chalk uplands and the imposing Purbeck Ridge.

Soils and vegetation

In the west, deep loamy soils support neutral damp grassland habitats. Towards the east, the ground is light and shallow, with sandy and acid brown soils supporting occasional vegetation of dry acidic grassland and heath with gorse and bracken.

Settlement and land cover

The parkland landscape around Lulworth and the significant area of MOD land incorporate the majority of landcover of the area. Overall, it is a settled rural landscape with small villages set within a mixed farmed landscape. It is a well wooded area with plantations, ancient woodlands and dense hedgerow trees.

Historic character

The historic character is dominated by the landscaped park at Lulworth along with areas of military use. Other areas of the landscape include large recent coniferous plantation and modern planned clearance. Settlements in this area are at least medieval in origin, with traces of medieval open field systems. The earthwork remains of East Lulworth survive within the landscaped park around Lulworth Castle. Evidence of activity from earlier periods tends to be rather fragmentary and obscured by modern farming practices. However, a number of barrows, traces of extensive prehistoric field systems and settlements indicate past settlement. These features are best preserved in the military ranges in the southern part of this area. The extensive prehistoric field systems have been reduced in modern times to soil marks or very shallow earthworks. Military archaeological remains are a dominant feature in the southern part of this area.

Visual character and perceptions

The diverse structure of vegetation forms an enclosed landscape with an intimate character. The parkland landscape around Lulworth has a grander scale with long views and vistas. The extensive military use in the west tends to have a stark appearance.

Strength of character

The landscape is judged to have a moderate strength of character. The largely undeveloped character and parkland landcover has helped to conserve important landscape features. The gently rolling landform with a farmed wooded character creates an often intimate and enclosed sense of place. The extensive parkland landscape around Lulworth ensures the survival and good management of landscape features across an extensive area. Although complex and varied, the area has a consistent pattern and recurrence of rough pastures, dense hedgerows wooded hillsides, nucleated settlements, and winding lanes. Recent conifer planting and military development does detract from the natural and tranquil character of the area.


Intensive farming methods mean that some landscape features have declined. For example, hedgerows are sometimes fragmented, gappy or over-managed, with post and wire fencing often acting as infill where hedgerow sections have been lost. However, the intensively farmed nature of the landscape also means that there are few areas of under-used or derelict land. Towards the west, the area is in good condition due to parkland estate management. Overall landscape condition is moderate and stable.

The overall objective is to conserve the diverse intimate wooded pastoral character. The key features that unify the landscape must be conserved such as the woodland blocks, dense hedgerows and the presence of scattered trees. Enhancement of many key features, such as the hedgerows and characteristic rural winding lanes is also required to enhance the sense of continuity across the landscape.

Planning guidelines

  • Ensure new housing development is complimentary to settlement scale, form and density and secure appropriate mitigation measures. Promote the use of previously developed land before greenfield sites, where this is well connected to settlement form. Require appropriate materials and architectural detailing, recognising the variable viability issues affecting market and affordable homes. Reduce the impact of associated features, including lighting, parking and access.
  • Ensure that greenspace brought forward in connection with housing development is sensitively designed. It should maintain rural character, provide benefits for biodiversity, contribute to the functionality of green infrastructure and deliver landscape and visual mitigation and enhancement.
  • Ensure pylons, masts and other vertical elements are carefully sited and the number restricted to avoid visual clutter and further interruption of the characteristic open views. Encourage the under-grounding of small powerlines in open, sensitive locations.
  • Ensure new agricultural dwellings, barns and structures enhance the local character, are located to reduce their impact on open views and, where necessary, adopt design measures to reduce their perceived scale.  Encourage the restoration of traditional barns and farm buildings and consider the replacement of lower quality structures when planning for expansion.
  • Conserve the character of rural lanes and features such as finger posts and street furniture. Remove excessive signage and seek alternatives to infrastructure associated with urban development and out of character traffic management schemes.
  • Protect important views of the surrounding open heathlands and views towards the Purbeck Ridge.
  • Ensure farm diversification projects do not have a negative impact on local character.
  • Limit the impact of camping and caravanning sites. Restrict the expansion and creation of sites in areas where impacts are already significant, including areas subject to notable cumulative effects. Control proposals to introduce new ‘glamping’ facilities, based on landscape and visual sensitives. Pursue appropriate mitigation measures, including seasonal limitations, landscape enhancement measures and conditions that control noise and light pollution.
  • Limit the impact of equine-related activity on landscape character, visual amenity and public access. Avoid the subdivision of prominent fields, particularly at settlement edges and on hillsides, and locate stables, jumps and other equipment in unobtrusive locations. Avoid the use of uncharacteristic fencing materials, which can be widely perceptible and appear out of place. Reduce conflict between equine management and public access where possible and ensure that public rights of ways are properly managed and maintained.
  • Ensure that coastal and flood defences are compatible with the National Landscape’s exceptional undeveloped coastline. Require the use of materials that are complementary to the character and appearance of their environs.
  • Ensure that any commercial forestry plantation is balanced with native deciduous planting and designed to enhance natural character, as well as delivering biodiversity gains such as strengthening ecological networks.
  • Require limitations to and mitigation of noise and light pollution, recognising the impact these issues have on tranquility and undeveloped rural character. Avoid unnecessary and prolonged noise and light pollution. Require good design to limit the impacts and use appropriate planning conditions to secure ongoing control.

Management guidelines

  • Replant species rich hedgerow sections where lost, avoiding the use of post and wire.
  • Enhance woodland management, particularly restoration of coppices, with small scale planting to connect existing woodlands and plant further scattered trees. Further conifer planting is not an objective.
  • Restore important patches of heathland through phased conifer felling and introduce grazing regimes to prevent further scrub encroachment.
  • Conserve the pattern of enclosed woodlands and open pastures.
  • Enhance management of permanent grassland to prevent loss to agricultural improvement and damage to wildlife and archaeological features.
  • Enhance management of arable farmland to create a wildlife-rich habitat supporting farmland birds. This will include retaining areas of fallow land, maintaining an unploughed margin around fields and the introduction of conservation headlands. Reduce the intensity of farming practices around important sensitive habitats.
  • Enhance the function of habitats in supporting the wider ecological network, where appropriate.
  • Protect hedge banks and replant hedgerow trees.