Abbotsbury, Dorset

View from main road along the new street created as part of the development – the gentle bend in the street offers an interesting glimpse of houses along both sides of the street reflecting the character of the historic streets of Abbotsbury
©Bob Edwards

Region: South West

Local Authority: West Dorset

Funding Body: Shaftesbury Housing Association

Summary: An affordable housing development on the edge of the village of Abbotsbury, a picturesque historic village in West Dorset.

Description: Abbotsbury is a village which developed outside the gates of its medieval monastery.  After the dissolution of the abbey the monastic buildings were used as quarries for building stone for houses in the village with water reed from the managed reed beds being used for thatched roofs; a notable difference in character to the straw thatch commonly seen across the adjacent chalk downs of Dorset.  The houses of the village predominantly lie along a single twisting street; with short terraces and connected houses set to the back of the pavement making for  a relatively tight streetscape with few gaps between buildings.
Issue: Abbotsbury has a high quality historic built environment which has seen relatively little modern expansion.  The village is a popular tourist destination due to attractions such as the Swannery, the Tithe Barn and the village itself.  Any new development needed to work with the strong established character of the settlement relating to the relationship of buildings to the street and building materials.

The development is located on the edge of the village and so provides a gateway into the settlement.  The houses facing onto the road take a traditional form and scale and use the local stone for walling.  Part of the row is thatched, part has Welsh slate roofing – a material that is seen on many older buildings in the village. 

Development to the rear of the plot is along a new street and around a ‘square’ which provides a parking area.  Here there is a mix of building form compared to the consistent terrace to the street with some units having a barn or large workshop appearance and there is a variety in walling with some buildings rendered.  The latter is not obviously a feature of the village and the buildings with this treatment have a non-traditional arrangement of windows.


The most favourable part of this scheme is the terrace which lines the road into the village where a traditional form is used with consistency.  The development to the rear creates a new street which, when viewed from the road provides an interesting and inviting view into the development. 

Are there aspects of the scheme that could be considered as being less successful?

The fenestration pattern of some of the houses to the rear part of the development could be considered inappropriate in terms of the local vernacular, but this is a minor issue.


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