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New Forest District Group – recent meetings

On 24 November 2016 an open discussion on New Forest District Council’s Local Plan was held in New Milton with the help and support of CPRE's New Forest District Group.

Russell Webb, Co-ordinator, introduced both guest speakers, Christopher Napier (Chairman, CPRE Hampshire’s Planning and Policy Group) and John Moon (CPRE Test Valley District Group). Caroline Dibden (Chairman, CPRE South Hampshire District Group) also participated.

Christopher Napier outlined the:

-  background to the New Forest Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)
-  the District Council’s role in determining the proposed housing sites (in collaboration with those councils in the affected areas)
-  the importance of protected sites (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Belt, National Parks) which are excluded from the National Planning Policy Framework

-  greater use of brownfield sites

-  and the vital input of existing residents regarding the threat of urbanisation.

John Moon expanded on demographic aspects: the District Council’s projected limits of deaths exceeding births despite 500 new builds a year over the last ten years expected to increase to 6-700 dwellings over the next decade. The basic statistics used for SHMA are employed to establish the housing needs for each district. 

On the question of affordable homes, developers contribute to a fund that ensures such builds. An optimistic view is taken by developers/planners who, based on Office for National Statistics projections, expect 800 homes to be built each year. 70% of houses are currently under-occupied, hence the need to downsize to smaller properties. The District Council has estimated an internal influx of 22,000 over 65s despite the current working population ageing to 65+ by 2036.

At this juncture, Graham Baker (Chairman, Planning Committee, New Forest Association) presented the NFA perspective in a submission to the District Council.

Christopher Napier stressed the need to persuade the District Council to reduce housing numbers because it has failed to address such issues as density and urban capacity. Graham queried the definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ in relation to encroaching on the Green Belt.

Chistopher emphasised 1) the need for a collective meeting with planning officials from the District Council after submitting a letter with a proposed basis for discussion, and 2) involvement of the media now rather than waiting until next spring when the District Council is expected to make a decision on the earmarked sites for new housing. In both instances it will prove advantageous to cite CPRE as a larger organisation backing these efforts.

Throughout the meeting both members of the CPRE and unaffiliated grassroots campaigners made appropriate comments and raised relevant points. At the meeting’s conclusion the mood of the participants was extremely positive and Russell Webb undertook to spread information to them to take the campaign forward.

On 29 November 2016 a meeting with the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) at its office in Lymington was brokered by Christopher Napier. The CPRE team comprised Michael Rescorle (Director, CPRE Hampshire), Christopher Napier, Russell Webb and Margaret Bunyard (who also represented the Friends of Latchmore). The NFNPA’s CEO, Alison Barnes headed a team that comprised David Illsley (Policy Manager), Sarah Kelly (Landscape Officer) and Paul Walton (Head, Environment and Rural Economy).

Christopher outlined the CPRE Hampshire organisation, aspects of the NFNP Local Plan Consultation, the Wetland Restoration Scheme, the use of Green Belt sites and land at Sway. The subjects of Low Flying Aircraft and the NPA’s proposed ‘Green Halo’ concept were also discussed. The other participants made appropriate comments and, at its conclusion, CPRE felt that, having cleared the air of any misunderstandings, the meeting had paved the way for similar and closer liaisons in the future.

Russell Webb -This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
December 2016

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