The North Wessex Downs are a distinct and recognisable area arising from a long history of human occupation and the sustainable use of their natural resources.
Land stewardship, community, the economy and natural beauty combine to give the area its special character. There are 173 parish councils and two charming market towns, Hungerford "Heart of the North Wessex Downs" and Marlborough. The total population of the North Wessex Downs is 125,000, with approximately 90,000 (72%) being economically active. Around 30% work within the AONB and 60% commute to the surrounding urban areas and London.
The communities of the North Wessex Downs display the following special qualities:
A dispersed and small population
Low unemployment and high economic activity rates
The Armed Forces still play a significant role in the local economy
Good access to the wider area.
A well-structured and resourced farming industry
Diversification into food processing, tourism and provision of space for economic activity
Villages and small towns with a strong sense of identity and affinity with the landscape.
Sustainable communities in the North Wessex Downs must be places where people want to live and work, now and in the future. We aim to enable vibrant communities to develop sustainably, encourage an enhanced sense of ownership of the North Wessex Downs ensure the provision of services that meet the needs of residents and visitors. The Sustainable Development Fund supports more than twenty community led projects per year and has provided over £1.8m of benefits to the area. We have also supported neighbourhood, community and parish plans to help empower local people in determining their own levels of development.
Further information on the communities of the North Wessex Downs is available in the Management Plan and to download here :