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Lytchett Matravers

Lytchett Matravers is a large village in the Purbeck district of south Dorset, England. The village has a population of 3,309 (2001).

The village setting

Lytchett Matravers is a relatively large village within the Purbeck District in the County of Dorset with a current population of 3,309. The village is situated on rising ground in a landscape of attractive small valleys, open fields and little woods and is about five miles north of Wareham and seven miles north west of Poole town centre. The elevation gives views from many parts of the village to Poole harbour and the Purbeck hills. The village is within the Poole/Bournemouth Green Belt which "washes over" and surrounds it. Lytchett Matravers was on the original main Poole to Dorchester road, but for the past one hundred and fifty years there has been no main road through the village. There is, nevertheless, some through commuter traffic between the main A350 road and A35 road, but most vehicles on the local roads are travelling to and from destinations in the village.

The development of the village

Lytchett Matravers has developed in the last hundred years from being one of mostly scattered cottages with large curtilages to a village with a moderately high housing density. During the 1920s and 30s, a certain amount of ribbon development took place on the main access road and this continued into the 1950s with the addition of small scale infill housing behind. Since the 1970s development has mainly been through relatively large housing estates, in the more recent of which the architectural style has become more varied and appropriate to the village setting. During the 1960s and early 70s it seems that many of the original cob and thatch cottages were either demolished or changed beyond recognition, nevertheless there are still some thirteen original thatched cottages in the village, some of which retain their original curtilage and nearly all of which enhance the village scene. Recently, some modern developments have included a smattering of thatched houses in an attempt to acknowledge the local vernacular style.

Village amenities

The Church of England church, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, lies just to the West and outside the village; its location is a reminder that the village envelope was relocated from that area onto higher ground in the 14th Century following the Black Death. There is also a Methodist church near the centre of the village and currently the Lighthouse Church holds regular Sunday services in the village school.

The village has a total of five shops, one of which is a traditional village shop and butcher selling most food requirements while another is a modern general village store that is used most by people living in the village. This store is a Tesco express and also hosts the village post office. There is also a pharmacy, a hairdressing salon and an estate agent. In addition, there is a garage which sells vehicles, but not petrol, and a separate business on the same site which carries out vehicle repairs. The Chequers Inn, one of the two village pubs, has foundations which probably date from the relocation of the village in the fourteenth century.

Most of the village amenities are situated on the High Street, including a modern parade of four shops, a modern library run by the County Library Service as well as a pharmacy and doctors' surgery. The two village pubs are at either end of the High Street and the village hall is at the centre, not far from the shops. The village war memorial is also on the High Street while the village Youth Centre is just off the western end. The High Street, and particularly the area around the shops, the library, the surgery, village hall and Recreation Ground, provides an identifiable focus for the village. Away from this focus, the traditional butcher's shop is opposite the primary school which is situated on Wareham Road about half a mile from the village centre.

The Rose and Crown village pub has recently changed hands and has had a major overhaul. All fruit machines and the pool table have been removed to make way for good old fashioned conversation. The trouble makers that used to frequent the pub have been banned. This has proved very popular with villagers and the pub is enjoying a new lease of life.

Community facilities

The village hall is a substantial building, constructed in 1972 to replace the ailing Jubilee Hall, which was largely of timber and corrugated iron construction. The new hall provides a large room with a stage, along with a smaller meeting room, kitchen and toilets. A small parish council office is attached to the side of the village hall which is furthest away from the High Street. The village hall is on relatively high ground and is immediately above the Recreation Ground which is just large enough for two small football pitches in the winter months and a cricket pitch in the summer. A children's play area is on the southern edge of the Recreation Ground as is the recently provided all-weather basketball pitch and skateboarding area. The Recreation Ground provides an attractive green space in the centre of the village which offers exceptional views of the distant Poole Harbour and the Purbecks; it is seen as a special amenity and is the site of the Millennium viewpoint and map. Adjacent to the village hall, single storey brick buildings situated in a car park alongside the High Street provide changing facilities for the Recreation Ground and a Scout hut.

Old buildings and a rural atmosphere

With the exception of the Rose and Crown pub which is about one hundred years old, the Chequers Inn which is much older still and the handsome Heath Cottage which houses the doctors' surgeries and medical centre, most of the buildings in the High Street are modern. The village nevertheless retains its rural feel; the substantial hedge between the High Street and the Recreation Ground is, for instance, evidently an old field hedge. Despite modern housing developments in many parts of the centre of the village, re-entrant valleys penetrate into the heart of the village and so the countryside is never far away. Middle Road, for example, although developed at its northern end nearest the High Street, soon becomes a country lane with scattered houses and is a reminder of what the entire village must have been like in the early part of the last century. There are still open fields near the centre of the village and many within its built up boundaries. These fields not only add to the rural feel of the village, but provide green, open spaces and in several cases provide spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Although the housing estates and main village roads are lit by street or footway lighting, the older side roads are still unlit and the residents mostly like it that way, again to preserve the rural feel of the village.

Employment opportunities

Although there are a significant number of small businesses run in or from the village, relatively few of the residents actually work there. Most of those of working age commute elsewhere in Dorset for their work, chiefly to Poole and Bournemouth. The village is home to a substantial number of retired and semi-retired people. Nevertheless, the village primary school, which was enlarged and relocated in 1990, has an excellent reputation and attracts children from outside its catchment area, to the extent that a few village children cannot now obtain places in their own village school. Secondary education is provided by Lytchett Minster Upper School which is situated some two miles from the village.

Village clubs and activities

Although the extent of development, particularly in the last thirty years, has strained the original social fabric of the village, there are still a significant number of villagers who were born, brought up and educated here. Possibly on account of such lifelong residents, there are active sports clubs and many other social and recreational clubs in the village. The football club (Lytchett Red Triangle) is particularly active, there is a cricket club and, on the social side, a dynamic British Legion Club. For young people there are Beavers, Cubs and Brownies, as well as Scouts and Guides, an Army Cadet Force Unit and a Youth Parish Council. The Lighthouse Family Church run a number of children and youth groups in the village such as "Elevate" (11 to 18 years); "Waves" (11+), "Breakers" (primary school age). These groups meet at the Youth Hut on the High Street.

The monthly Parish Magazine, which is taken by about 700 households, usually includes articles on the activities of twelve clubs and societies in the village and there are at least as many more which are not covered. In October 2001, a typical month, there was a booking listed for the village hall every day of the month and, of course, several clubs and societies meet either in their own premises or at a venue elsewhere in the village. For many years, the village has held a successful and popular traditional carnival during June. Events like this, along with the activities of the many clubs and societies, and the churches, do undoubtedly foster a tangible community spirit. However, a significant number of villagers do not participate in community activities and there are some who make life difficult, and less enjoyable, for other residents. Lytchett Matravers has, unfortunately, a relatively high level of reported crime for a rural Dorset village and suffers from more than its share of anti-social behaviour problems. These difficulties can adversely affect the quality of life of other villagers, particularly the elderly, and produce a disproportionate increase in the fear of crime.

Pride in the community

Overall, however, the vast majority of residents of Lytchett Matravers take a pride in their village and its community and very much enjoy living here. Although the older, lifelong residents have seen the appearance of the village change beyond all recognition in their lifetime, the village has done well to retain its character and social cohesion through many periods of change and much expansion in recent years. This has been achieved, at least in part, by the depth of family ties in the village which are still very evident today and reflected in place and street names. It is a credit to the village that many new comers comment on the friendliness of the villagers and say that it is a delightful place in which to live. The village is twinned with the French village of Les Pieux, situated approximately 20 km from Cherbourg, linked by a regular car ferry with Poole.

The future

The villagers of Lytchett Matravers do have serious concerns over the future of their village and their present quality of life. Despite the relatively good amenities in the village, they are not enough to satisfy the aspirations of all villagers, nor to keep all age groups content. With a view to identifying and then addressing these concerns, a group of villagers have undertaken a Village Appraisal under the name of "Lytchett Matravers Parish Plan" This report explains the consultation process undertaken, details the concerns of villagers as they emerged during the process (in approximate order of priority) and sets out in an Action Plan those actions necessary to address the concerns of the villagers of Lytchett Matravers.

There are planning applications being sought on the land nearest the A35 (December 2007). This will lead to new housing for a considerable number of people.

The Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the SW includes specific provision for 2750 new home to be built on green land between Lytchett Minster and Lytchett Matravers. Opposition to this new proposal is estimated to be unanimous amongst the villagers of Lytchett Matravers, Lytchett Minster and Upton, as well the local planning authority and the local MP that serves these communities. The specification to de-allocate green belt land around Lytchett Minster appears to have entered the the RSS for no other reason than that the owner of the land and the government stand to draw significant financial benefit from the proposal.

External links

link to Community Action Lytchett Matravers -fighting the new development

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