For much of its existence Lytchett Matravers has been a small remote mainly agricultural village in Dorset. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book where the village was given to Hugh Maltravers after the Norman conquest. The name is a concatenation of Litchet (meaning grey wood), and ‘Maltravers’.
The Maltravers family held the village for around 300 years. At that time it was centred around the church and manor house. When the Black Death decimated the village in the 14th Century, the remaining villagers are reputed to have abandoned their homes and started afresh at the top of the hill.
The church is still at the bottom of the hill, but the manor house went around 100 years ago. The village has developed over that time from being a hamlet of mostly scattered thatched cottages to a village of some 1,500 houses. The population has grown from 647 in 1911 to around 3,800 in 2015, with much of this recent growth in the last 50 years.
However, the village still has that unique quality. It still contains a significant number of listed buildings, thatched cottages, cob houses and a pub from times of yore. It still has resident families with long village histories who can relate war time stories and tell you where the bombs were dropped. It is still a special place to live and work for its residents.
Lytchett Matravers is a self-contained community.
Self contained in that most people know a good number of other residents. It is hard to walk down the street or to the shops and not meet someone you know, to say good morning to. Residents make full use of the amenities and facilities and are used to seeing familiar faces at the school, the doctors, the shops, the clubs and the pubs. That sense of community is why residents tend to stay in Lytchett Matravers and many residents are from long established village families.
Self contained in that almost all children in the village go to the village school, Lytchett Matravers Primary School. The school caters for ages 4 to 11 and is one of the core foundations of the future sustainable village community. Not only do the children form long lasting relationships with other village children, the parents establish similar friendships which proliferate throughout village life. This bonding of relationships across families is central to the cohesion of the village.
Self contained in that there are a core of village facilities and services, which allow many residents to meet their daily needs within the village. The village shops provide for most ‘smaller’ requirements, the post office provides services for the village and other surrounding villages.
The library, which is the largest and most active non-town library in Dorset, has strong links with the school and the community in a wider sense. There are regular Citizen’s Advice sessions, meetings with County Councillors, Friends of the Library talks and coffee mornings as well as providing a full service to Lytchett Matravers and other surrounding villages.
The recreation ground has been the home of village sporting activity at least since 1919, when the then Lytchett Red Triangle Youth Football Club was formed. Since then, there have been numerous other clubs, sporting and non-sporting, that have cemented interests and friendships throughout the village.
Lytchett Matravers has the sustainable character of a village. It has a single high street and a central green around which the village infrastructure is largely centred. The village is generally quiet, it has no main roads, it has many areas where there are no street lights and light pollution is minimal and it has many interspersed green spaces throughout the residential areas.
Lytchett Matravers is not a Dorset picturesque village, it does not attract throngs of tourists and it is not surrounded by heathland or areas of special scientific interest. The Purbeck Local Plan adopted in 2012 describes Lytchett Matravers as a ‘key service village’, which is defined as having the highest level of services. Yet the same plan also states that the level of self containment is low and that additional community services are needed.
It is this perceived paradox that this Lytchett Matravers Neighbourhood Plan has to address, to set out clearly what community services are needed to achieve self containment and to establish the mix of economic, social and environmental services to be sustained for the future well-being and growth of the village community.