Introductory letter from the EHIPC Planning Committee chairman:

New Forest District Council consultation on the revision of The Local Plan.

NFDC are in the process of revising their local plan and if you are reading this it is most likely because you have heard that the most significant issue proposed is for the changes to village/town boundaries in order to enable the building of more homes.

As far as our Parish is concerned this would impact directly on the site at Snails Lane (site R) and thus the purpose of this introduction is with that specific site in mind.

Significantly this is achieved by changing the designations of areas of land from ‘Agricultural use’ and ‘Green belt’ to ‘suitable for development’.

WHAT CAN I DO? I’m only one person (and not a loud voice at that!!!)

The worst thing that anyone can do is nothing! Fill in the short survey, but consider carefully how the questions are asked. For example if you ‘strongly agree’ that the green belt areas should be protected then the Site on Snails Lane, which is not green belt (it is a settlement gap), will be more likely to be developed. Those concerned with Snails Lane (site R) specifically might want to consider that filling in the survey accepts the presumption for building. It might be better not to do this survey but to complete the:

Consultation Response form This is a very simple form to complete and you can email this to:

So in order to help you form an opinion and also structure your response you need to grab yourself a VERY BIG cuppa and read as much as you can.

Think about the objectives and criteria NFDC have set for the plan and consider whether putting houses on the fields beside the Blashford Lakes match their key objectives on Page 27 of Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Part One: Planning Strategy.

Also consider how developing the site ‘…will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities” from page 29. Page 80 is Specific to Snails Lane and deserves comment.

The individual site assessments (page 254) is the most important document as, at the moment it is greenlighting the Snails Lane site as suitable for development for reasons including “The land itself is currently grazed by recreational horses, leading to a diminished quality to both landscape character and visual quality; therefore its sensitivity is relatively low and has a good capacity for new residential development.”

This really could be challenged using evidence gleaned from researching the other documents and thinking about the impact on wildlife and urban separation.

Links to other documents. The Strategic housing Market Assesment is the most crucial of all the documents. It is long and full of facts to read. It is the ‘evidence’ that NFDC has used to support their case for the new housing proposal. It is interesting to note:

  1. It was commissioned in 2012 and it used information up to 2011 so is already 5 years out of date! Though there is assurance of an update this year.

  2. (under 5.12) “Since this report was drafted, a new set of population projections (SNPP) were published by ONS (on the 29th May 2014). These projections suggest a lower level of population growth in the New Forest by 10,000 people. This would suggest that while our amended projection is sound, it could be considered slightly on the high side”.

  3. The main thrust of the consultation document is that there will be a population growth of 22,000 people in the next 20 years and that growth is all in over 65s. It is interesting to note this figure is tricky to find in the document.

  4. Contradicting this, from a separate document: (Long term projections of Hampshire’s demographic future commissioned by HCC) “The New Forest is projected to experience decline in (it’s) population between 2008 and 2026, of approximately 7,000 people.”

  5. The New Forest has the most under occupied properties when compared to Hampshire, the south east or even the UK.

  6. The 2011 Census data (used for the report) suggests that older person households are more likely to under-occupy their housing than other households in the District. In total 54% have an occupancy rating of +2 or more (meaning there are at least two more bedrooms than are technically required by the household).

  7. The report only recommends the construction of smaller properties to increase the liquidity (sales) of larger properties (single pensioner occupied) in the New Forest District. NO OTHER REASON.

  8. The population census shows that there is a declining population over each age group in the New Forest area in comparison to Hampshire or the South East. SO whilst there is a notable over 65 population already in the Forest this can only decline over the next 30 years.

  9. I would caution all that the use of the term Affordable housing is COMPLETELY different in these documents. This description, for these documents, INCLUDE social housing, rented housing, residential care and housing for people on benefits. It DOES not infer a need for low paid but essential workforce (I.E Nurses, Firefighters etc). As the Parish Council have used under HARAH discussions.

  10. The extent to which the Council and National Park Authority wish to see the private rented sector being used to make up for shortages of affordable housing is plainly a local policy decision which is outside the scope of this study. However, assuming the role continues, there is no strong evidence of a quantitative need to increase overall housing numbers above the levels identified by the baseline demographic projections in order to ensure delivery of sufficient affordable housing delivery over the plan period.”

This is just a sample of the evidence that could be used to form an opinion. It is very important that we receive your thoughts in order to structure a Parish council response on the matter. Remember that the response form insists on EVIDENCE based comments and should not refer to issues that future developers would have to address I.E highways issues, lack of drainage or loss of privacy/decline in house value. If you have further observations I would be very grateful to receive them. Finally I feel it is important to note that I have declared a non-pecuniary interest in this consultation as I am a resident on Snails Lane.

Jim Spark Parish Councillor

Following on from this letter is a list of links to help you access the most relevant in formation:

Public Consultation open until 16 September 2016 (4pm)

NFDC Local Plan Review:

How to have your say

  • Postal address for return of Consultation Response Form:

Policy and Plans Team,
New Forest District Council,
Appletree Court,
Beaulieu Road,
Hampshire SO43 7PA. Tel. 023 8028 5538