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Affordable homes planned for Folly Hill at Hale Purlieu 'right thing in the wrong place'

PLANS for affordable homes which have divided a New Forest community were refused by the national park authority.

The proposal for a pair of semi-detached properties on land at Folly Hill, in Hale Purlieu, was described by NPA member Barry Rickman at a planning committee meeting as “simply the right thing in the wrong place” because of

its distance from village amenities.

An artist's impression of the semi-detached homes
An artist's impression of the semi-detached homes

Introducing the plans on behalf of the Hale Village Community Land Trust, site owner Bill Templeton said the scheme had been drawn up after more than 13 years of consideration.

He said: “I was chair of the governors of Hale Primary School for 15 years and during this period it became more and more apparent that the school was relying more and more on pupils from outside the parish, and the reason was the ever-increasing house prices in the village.

“The objective of our project is to provide local families with the opportunity to grow up in an area where they have social, economic and environmental connections.”

A report from NPA planning officer Clare Ings concluded the design of the “simple” brick and slate semi-detached houses would be acceptable in the location.

Opponent Chris Fairgrieve told the planning committee that the village was “absolutely not” against the principle of affordable housing.

But he said: “Folly Hill Paddock is adjacent to one of the most highly protected areas in England and preserving the integrity of the national park is essential for future generations.”

Mr Fairgrieve also accused the Hale Village Community Land Trust – which had been set up to deliver the affordable homes – of “management failures” and “financial ineptitude” and said it could not be trusted to allocate the homes correctly.

Cllr Josh Lavis, of Hale Parish Council, said a 2020 community survey revealed that 135 residents were opposed to the development and 75 were in favour.

He said: “The site is located where there is no public transport and residents would require the use of private transport to access the shops and the school, which are more than one mile away along an unlit rural lane.”

Feedback from New Forest District Council’s housing development officer was that the proposed two and three-bed homes were “not an accurate reflection of local need”.

Debating the scheme, NPA member John Sanger said he was unconvinced a need for the scheme had been proven, adding: “We do have to remember this is a rural exception site, so anything that is built has to be exceptional.”

Sue Bennison said: “The district council are certainly looking for one and two-bedroom properties. That is certainly where the need has been shown to be.”

She added there were “big question marks” remaining over how the trust would manage the properties, and she was concerned they could be sold in the future.

Richard Taylor pointed out that the parish, district and country councils had all concluded the development was in the wrong location.

He added: “We also appear to have a very split community and I don’t think you can support something like this without the community behind it.”

Stephen Tarling said it was with a “heavy heart” he would vote against the scheme, but acknowledged the “enormous generosity” of the applicant in putting forward his land for affordable housing.

Members voted unanimously to refuse permission.

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