A BAND which has been performing in the New Forest for 125 years say they have secured their future after gaining planning permission for a permanent base near Ringwood.
Hyde Band, which was founded in 1895, was under threat after 10 years of unsuccessful attempts to secure a suitable place to rehearse and store instruments.
This week, however, members of the national park’s planning committee approved plans for a new building on land adjacent to Newtown Honey Farm in Newtown Lane, Mockbeggar, which was gifted to the group by the landowner.
Band secretary Joanna Cook told the meeting that she had joined aged just four and had gone on to meet her partner in the group. She said the band had flourished over the years and was enjoyed by all ages.
Ms Cook said: “Despite our best efforts, we have exhausted all our options of securing a long-term base in the locality. Having our own base will undoubtedly secure another 125 years and many more.”
The application gained 60 letters of support, including one from New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne.
It also received four against, with objections over increased traffic movements, access and claims it would not be big enough for the band.
The scheme also faced opposition from NPA planning officers who recommended the committee turn it down because it had not been shown to have “any direct benefit to the local community” and served a need from outside the national park. An increase in traffic was another concern.
But NPA member Ann Sevier, whose grandfather and sister played in the band, spoke in support of the application.
She said: “This band takes part in a lot of local community events, I have seen them with their work in the schools and on the year we remembered the end of World War 1 they led over 1,000 through the High Street of Fordingbridge on that day.
“So they do have a real historical and local context. They are an integral part of the New Forest.”
The site was historically used as an RAF airbase serving Ibsley airfield and is currently empty. The new building will be four metres high and timber-clad with a slate or corrugated roof.
As well as a space to practise, the building would also include a music library and kitchen. The group would use the building twice a week to rehearse as well as for tuition and its AGM.
NPA member George Bisson agreed: “I think [the band] is an immense asset to the community and it would be a shame to lose. To have a properly designed building which will fit in and give a permanent base for the band will enhance the community.”
NPA member Gavin Parker said: “It strikes me that in normal circumstances one would say there is surely other suitable sites, but as we have heard there have been other sites that have fallen through.”
Members agreed unanimously in favour to approve the plans.
Hyde Band secretary Niki Grimmett said afterwards: “As you can imagine, the band are thrilled to have been granted planning permission to build their own band hall after having been ‘homeless’ for approaching 15 years. All we need to do now is start the fundraising!”