Make sure that development within the New Forest and adjacent areas is sustainable, of high quality, and does not damage the special character of the Forest
National planning policies are set out in the various Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) Notes and Minerals Planning Guidance (MPG) Notes.Together with national objectives for economic development, these form the basis for the Regional Planning Guidance (RPGs) produced by the Regional Assemblies and the Regional Economic Strategies produced by the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). The two documents are closely linked. The RPGs include policies for the natural and built environment, the economy, tourism and recreation, housing and transport. These help inform the delivery of the RDA’s strategy. Both documents are set within the context of an agreed Sustainable Development Framework to ensure sustainable development is addressed consistently in all regional strategies, and that particular sub-regional issues are also taken into account.
The New Forest lies within both the South East and South West Regions (although Government guidance indicates that in the case of National Parks the entire area should fall within the remit of one RPG). Two different RPGs therefore currently influence the various County Structure Plans, Minerals and Waste Plans and Transport Plans, according to the regional location of each county. The County Plans provide a framework for the detailed policies for sustainable development in the Local Plans, produced by the districts and boroughs.
Since 1994 the New Forest Heritage Area has enjoyed the same protection in planning policy terms as a National Park. Local plan policies therefore reflect the paramount importance of protecting the environment of the Heritage Area from inappropriate development, while recognising that it is essential to support the economy and social well-being of the Forest. Policies have been introduced to help address key issues such as affordable housing provision, employment and the role of village and town centres, which are discussed in more detail in the following sections.
The Government has published its Planning and Compulsory Order Bill, 2002, based on the earlier Planning Green Paper. The Bill proposes fundamental changes to the current structure plan and local plan approach. County structure plans will be replaced by wide-ranging Regional Spatial Strategies, produced by the Regional Assemblies, which will also take into account variations within each region. Local plans will take the form of a number of Local Development Documents produced by the district, borough or unitary authority, working closely with local communities and linked to their Community Strategies. The County Councils will continue to have responsibilities for transport, waste and minerals planning in their area. The Government aim to establish this new system by 2007. The full implications for the New Forest are not yet clear, but it is likely that the current local
planning system will remain in place for much of the lifetime of this Strategy.
Regardless of the details of the planning structure, policies for sustainable development in the Forest will need to take into account the particular development and land use pressures resulting from the Forest’s geographical location and high quality environment. These are reflected in the proposals relating to local planning policy throughout this document. The major issues include:
a. The expansion of residential and industrial areas, particularly in the Waterside and coastal towns, and their effects on the Forest.
b. Pressure for new housing and business development due to the proximity of Southampton, Bournemouth and London.
c. Changes in the rural economy and particularly the need to cater for the diversification of agriculture-based businesses.
d. A high demand for land for riding establishments and recreational horse keeping.
e. Increasing recreational use and pressures for further recreational and tourism-based development.
f. The environmental effects of private car use and the need to integrate land use and transport planning.