Update: New Forest District Group

20th November 2019

News from the New Forest


We continue to monitor new and especially unsustainable housing developments in liaison with our ‘partners’ – parish councils and grassroots protest movements. The latter having been particularly effective at Blashford, Milford and Pennington. Final legal decisions are still awaited at the first and third sites, whilst Milford is fighting a rearguard action against the NFDC which has allowed Pennyfarthing to concrete over fields adjoining the local infant school.

The latest, most ambitious plan involves Lynes Farm (SS14) where Taylor Wimpey is hoping to build up to 400 homes (130 more than originally planned by NFDC) over a six-year period on low lying land and to create access onto the A31, due to inadequate road infrastructure. The latter aspect will be under enormous pressure from the Linden Homes development at Crow (Ringwood) where 200 homes are being constructed. TW’s estimated start date of 2021 will clash with Highway England’s scheme to widen the A31 and this will cause significant traffic problems in the town. On the other side of this development is SS13, also susceptible to drainage problems, where Pennyfarthing has expressed interest in building 400 dwellings but where a SANG is contemplated.

Neighbourhood Plans at Hythe and Dibden, Fordingbridge and New Milton are well advanced whilst Ringwood is still debating the pros and cons. Obviously, the adoption of such plans will facilitate greater interest by the public in the NFDC’s Local Plan.

Pressure on Fordingbridge comes from outside the county boundary. Former EDDC (now Dorset Unitary Authority) has proposed up to 2,400 homes for Alderholt which will inevitably affect the Forest by both increased traffic flows and recreational use. We anxiously await the next stage of this potentially unsustainable development in liaison with the parish council and the local Action4Alderholt movement who have stated that a public consultation exercise will be conducted in autumn 2020.

Mobile phone masts (like onshore wind turbines) are becoming a blot on the landscape. A particularly egregious example has been recently unveiled at Hyde. The parish council have not, apparently, received sympathetic responses to their objections from the HCC, NFDC, NPA or NE so we will pursue this issue to ascertain the full facts. However it has been confirmed that HCC own the land in question and ‘reluctantly agreed to the arrangement to avoid loss of network coverage in Hyde, . . . The arrangement is strictly temporary, for up to 18 months. The mast is trailer mounted, rather than fixed into the ground.  The operators [EE] are trying to find a more suitable permanent solution. The CC and partner organisations will strongly resist any proposal to site a permanent mast on any protected area.’ The NPA has referred to ‘Local Plan 8.14 The visual impacts of telecommunication infrastructure will be considered using national planning policy and guidance, to ensure that any such proposals are sensitively designed and sited and demonstrate that there are no suitable alternative locations. The mast . . . is a temporary installation and as such does not require planning permission for a period of up to 18 months. It does require consent from Natural England due to the site being within the New Forest SSSI’.  We are still waiting to know ‘the current status of the consent for this mast’ from NE.  Given the current obsession with mobile phone receptivity, it is a question of locating alternative and less environmentally sensitive sites.

Implementation of the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s new decision-making process for Planned Permanent Redistribution proposals has been postponed from 1 November to 1 February 2020. Since these plans may well affect flight pathways over the Forest and thus the much sought area of tranquillity, we will ascertain the results next year.

An active member and commoner, Ailsa Farrand, represented CPREH at a workshop arranged by Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management & Learning at the NPA. Held at Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst, and headed ‘The New Forest: Special by Design’, ‘through this project we hope to identify ways in which a wide range of signage, other infrastructure and even digital communications such as social media and websites can better reflect the things that make the New Forest special’.

Finally, we are pleased to report that sister organisation, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, became finalists at the recent CPRE Hants Countryside Awards in categories Woodland Apprentice scheme and New Forest Non-Native Plants Project.

Russell Webb

To get involved with the New Forest District Group, please contact info@cprehampshire.org.uk

Children climbing in the New Forest
Photography by Annie Spratt/Unsplash