Our Agenda (continued)

Planning and Development

For much of the second half of the 20th Century the New Forest was badly served by the local planning authorities responsible for its protection. Fine words were written about the Crown lands and open forest landscape, but the overall pastoral economy and the need to conserve a wider New Forest that made up its totality was ignored. Larger Forest villages were expanded with new estates developed on grazing land to become commuter settlements; smaller loose‐knit villages were in‐filled; and large‐scale regional growth took place within and beside the Forest fringes. In particular the Waterside settlements and Coastal towns were either engulfed in, or significantly expanded by new residential estates. The sight of Forest ponies grazing beside Southampton Water has been almost totally lost. Major highway, other infrastructure and industrial developments were proposed, some of which took place, and some, opposed by the NFA and others, such as a new container port at Dibden Bay, were resisted. The result has been a large increase in activity in and around the Forest, including traffic flows across the Forest.

By the 1990s, designation of the New Forest Heritage Area and its recognition as having National Park status for planning purposes, together with planning policies for restraint superseding those for growth, increased protection of the Forest from harmful development. This has been consolidated by the formal designation of the National Park. Unfortunately, once again the need to protect the wider New Forest area was not grasped and the final National Park designation boundary was drawn to omit significant areas that had been proposed for inclusion. More recently the National Park Authority has designated additional Conservation Areas, recognising the landscape value of much of the Forest's built heritage alongside its natural landscape.

The Association supports:

  • The protective policies of the local planning authorities.
  • Small‐scale development that assists the rural economy or sustains the exercise of common rights within the Forest.

The Association opposes:

  • Further residential development within the National Park.
  • Large‐scale development adjacent or near to the National Park, which would have a direct adverse impact upon the Forest or increase traffic flows across the Forest.
  • Small scale built development and changes of use, which cumulatively erode local character and gradually suburbanise the Forest.

We will monitor planning applications in and around the National Park and will make representations to the local planning authorities about those likely to have a harmful impact upon the New Forest. We will actively engage with the local planning authority in the preparation or review of planning policies and if necessary we will submit the Association's views to public inquiries or examinations. Section 62(2) of the Environment Act 1995 requires public authorities, including neighbouring local authorities to have regard to national park purposes when performing any of their functions that might affect the designated landscape. When necessary we will remind statutory undertakers or neighbouring authorities of their responsibilities under this legislation.