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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Independent Inspector backs National Park’s first set of planning policies

An independent Government Planning Inspector has endorsed the first dedicated set of planning policies for the New Forest National Park, concluding that the Authority’s ‘Core Strategy’ provides an appropriate and sound basis for planning within the National Park.

Inspector Neil Pope also commended the Authority’s work in simplifying the hundreds of existing planning policies from five plans that currently cover the National Park into a succinct set of 42 policies. The Core Strategy document will be used to guide decisions on planning applications within the whole of the National Park up to 2026.

The Inspector concluded that the Core Strategy meets all the legal requirements and is judged to be ‘sound’ in that it is justified, effective and consistent with national policy. He recommended it should be adopted, subject to a very limited number of changes (available to view, with the Inspector’s report, at http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/).

The Inspector’s report follows examination hearing sessions held in early September at which he invited a wide range of organisations and individuals to give evidence. He also took into account all comments received on the draft plan during the public consultation held earlier this year. Around 10,000 people have been involved in the consultation over the last two years.

The Inspector said: ‘…the NPA has undertaken an extensive and lengthy consultation process with a very wide range of public and private sector organisations. Representations were received from a wide cross-section of the local community, including those representing business interests. There was adequate opportunity for those wishing to take part in the consultation process to do so.'

The Inspector supported the modest level of housing development proposed within the National Park, highlighting its role in maintaining the vitality of local communities and in sustaining local services. The Authority’s proposals to increase the proportion of local affordable housing sought on development sites within the main villages were also endorsed.

Steve Avery, Director of Strategy and Planning at the National Park Authority, said: ‘We welcome the independent Inspector’s positive endorsement of the Authority’s proposed planning policies. Once formally adopted in December the Core Strategy should significantly simplify the planning policy framework for the National Park. After an extensive consultation process, we believe the Core Strategy strikes the right balance in seeking to enhance and protect the New Forest environment whilst sustaining the social and economic well-being of the national park communities.’

New Forest National Park Authority members are expected to formally approve the document at their meeting on 9 December. This adoption date allows for a planned transition from the existing to the new planning policies for the National Park. All planning applications decided after 9 December 2010 will be made in accordance with the new Core Strategy policies.

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