As gateway to a World Heritage site, Charmouth functions both as a community in its own right and as a much loved world tourist destination. Many of the buildings are 18th and 19th century but this is not a chocolate box place full of empty second homes. The statistics bring the story of Charmouth and its people to life:
The resident population of Charmouth is 1500, growing from 1300 in 2010 and 900 in 1960. The anticipated population by 2022 is 1800. The population is composed of a mix of young families and older retirees.
Some of the following needs, as expressed in the Charmouth Neighourhood Plan 2017, have already been addressed to a greater or lesser extent by other organisations. Others may be addressed by Charmouth Changing Spaces once the complete project has been implemented.
- There is a thriving primary school with 169 pupils. However, there is no nursery provision or indoor play area in the village.
- Charmouth has a post office, chemist, newsagent, mini-supermarket, doctors surgery and hairdressers. However, there is nowhere open all year round to have a coffee or inexpensive meal.
- There is a thriving Scout Group, Guides, and two Youth Music Groups – providing activities for over 300 children and teenagers. However, there is nowhere they can gather to relax, or to listen to music.
- There is a thriving population of artists, sculptors and artisan craftspeople – however there is nowhere which consistently showcases local art or holds exhibitions.
- The population is growing, yet the church population is declining and our beautiful historic building at the heart of the village is on the At Risk Register.
‘Needs’ relate to local people and visitors, as well as the condition of the physical fabric of the church and the financial future of the village. In terms of social need, this part of Dorset, whilst offering beautiful surroundings, is not without high levels of deprivation within rural communities.
The English Indices of Deprivation (2015), DCLG, indicate that Charmouth is within the top 20% most deprived nationally in respect of poor indoor living environment (social and private housing in poor condition, lacking space, and offering minimal facilities), and 30% of its population suffer from rural isolation.
With people having little scope within their own home and having to travel distances to reach amenities, problems of isolation are exacerbated. At the same time, public transport is diminishing and local community provision is increasingly falling behind.