CAMPSITES across the New Forest which were controversially shut during the lockdown are set to reopen in time for Easter 2021.
The news comes as it was revealed the temporary New Park Farm campsite – with 200 pitches set up on the Brockenhurst showground site in July – had attracted 38,000 visitors.
Discussions have been ongoing behind the scenes between New Forest District Council and the operators of the 10 Camping in the New Forest (CITF) sites – the Caravanning and Camping Club (CCC) and Forestry England (FE).
A spokesman for majority partner, CCC, told the A&T on Tuesday: “We can confirm Camping in the Forest will be open as usual next year – the exact opening dates are to be confirmed but it’s likely to be in time for the Easter weekend.”
It came after NFDC cabinet member Cllr Michael Harris, was pressed at the latest full meeting and said he wanted a specific, firm date, adding: “We have to keep the pressure up.”
He was responding to a question from Lib Dem member Cllr Hilary Brand, who owns a tea shop in Lyndhurst and criticised the decision to keep the sites closed.
As reported in the A&T CITF is a partnership between the CCC and FE, and its decision to keep the local sites closed even after the lockdown was eased caused outrage.
NFDC leader Cllr Barry Rickman claimed it cost the district economy £16m and risked problems caused by campers staying illegally, while New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne told the A&T he was “furious” at the situation and locals unsuccessfully lobbied for a U-turn.
The FE had said it was unhappy about the continued closures but it was powerless to overturn CCC’s decision because it is the minority partner.
CITF later clarified that if it bowed to pressure to reopen, the impact on its finances could put its operations at risk next year.
In light of the closures, NFDC helped open New Park Farm campsite which, given the number of visitors, Cllr Rickman said had been a great success.