New planning guidelines adopted for the New Forest National Park

View of St Michael & All Angels church in Lyndhurst
View of St Michael & All Angels church in Lyndhurst

A new ‘Local Plan’ has been adopted to guide planning decisions in the New Forest National Park, containing stronger policies to protect the environment.
The New Forest National Park Authority’s revised suite of planning policies includes guidance on the scale and location of new housing, as well as protecting the natural and built environment and meeting community needs.


The policy review, which began in 2015, included several rounds of consultation with the public and a wide range of organisations. It also came under independent examination by the Secretary of State to ensure it was justified and supported by robust evidence in areas such as sustainability, wildlife habitats and housing land availability.
The resulting Local Plan enables the National Park Authority to progress its important work conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.


The Plan also includes new policies in several areas, including more support for affordable housing and commoners’ dwellings; safeguarding areas of tranquillity; and protecting the Forest’s landscape character, trees and historic environment.  
Existing planning policies to protect, maintain and enhance nationally, regionally and locally-important sites and features of the natural environment – including habitats and species of biodiversity importance, geological features and the water environment – are retained in the new Plan.


The limited development planned for the National Park focuses on meeting the needs of local people, ensuring the area remains a living, working landscape. This will happen through:


• restricting the size of new homes to ensure developments address identified local needs for smaller one-to-three bedroomed properties


• a small increase in housing development from the current average of around 25 homes a year to 40 per year. Most will be on sites which have existing planning consents, on brownfield sites or ‘windfall’ development which becomes available unexpectedly


• a lower site size threshold for new developments (three dwellings or more) to make provision for affordable housing. It also proposes keeping the existing policy that all homes on ‘rural exception’ sites should be affordable


• allocating a few sites for new housing for the first time since the National Park was designated in 2005. On these new housing sites we will be seeking a significant proportion of affordable housing to meet local housing needs


• restricting any developments of care homes to cater for local people, rather than external demand


• a new policy on major development within the National Park, ensuring a high bar is set and requiring robust justification for any such proposals.


Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, New Forest National Park Authority Chairman, said: ‘Our planning policies play a key role in protecting the National Park’s special qualities and wildlife, supporting the local economy and conserving the distinctive New Forest character of our villages and rural areas.


‘This updated Local Plan is an extremely significant step for the Authority and allows our planning service to continue its important work in helping to protect and enhance the Forest for future generations.’


The new Local Plan can be viewed at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/localplan

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