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Vernon Dene mobile home park in North Ripley, between Bransgore and Ringwood, could have certificate of lawfulness revoked by New Forest National Park Authority

A CONTROVERSIAL £10 million mobile home park in the New Forest could have its certificate of lawfulness revoked as part of an ongoing planning battle.

National park authority members will decide whether the certificate, which allows unfinished Vernon Dene to be used as a caravan site, is quashed amid claims the previous owner made false statements or withheld important information when the application was made.

Vernon Dene
Vernon Dene

Currently the 2.6-hectare site at North Ripley, between Bransgore and Ringwood, benefits from a certificate granted to former owner Jonathan Cox by the NPA in 2008, placing no restriction on the number of mobile homes.

At the time the site accommodated “a few modest sized touring caravans”.

But it was subsequently acquired by Park One Developments for £2.6m in late 2018, with the firm revealing its plans to create a substantial residential mobile home park.

NPA documents reveal the change of ownership was discovered after in 2019 when “without any prior warning” heavy plant and machinery were used to carry out extensive site clearance and engineering work.

“Felled trees and vegetation were burnt onsite with security guards stationed at the entrance,” the documents state.

Within weeks Park One Developments applied to New Forest District Council for a site licence for 83 permanent residential caravans/mobile homes which, because of the existing certificate of lawfulness, was subsequently granted.

As part of this licence, the site owners would not normally require additional planning consent for associated developments such as internal roads and concrete caravan bases.

Vernon Dene
Vernon Dene

However, the NPA argued that because of the site’s location in an undeveloped part of the national park near an European designated site, an environmental impact assessment would be needed requiring the developer to apply for planning permission to undertake the work.

The need for this assessment was confirmed by the secretary of state in 2022.

It then emerged that the site had changed ownership again in December 2021, when Ocean One Hundred bought it for £10m.

The NPA revealed that around that time “a number of anomalies” relating to the original certificate of lawfulness had come to light, prompting further investigations.

It was then revealed that Jonathan Cox was not the owner of the site in 2008, as he had claimed, but it was instead owned by his brother Geoffrey Cox.

Other anomalies included accounts from neighbours that the caravan use was not widespread and subsequent investigations which indicated a significant area of the site was used for grazing.

Parts of the site had also been used for storage of items such as horse boxes, cars, rubble and telegraph poles.

Recommending NPA members to support revoking the 2008 certificate of lawfulness, director of strategy and planning Steve Avery said: “The planning harm that would be caused by one of the largest and non-conforming residential developments in the national park, which would be reliant on a falsely made application for a CLU, is so severe that the balance of considerations is considered to weigh in favour of revocation.”

Steve Avery is recommending the certificate of lawfulness be revoked (picture: NFNPA/Chris Balcombe)
Steve Avery is recommending the certificate of lawfulness be revoked (picture: NFNPA/Chris Balcombe)

Pointing to the site’s location adjacent to three sites of Special Scientific Interest, Mr Avery continued: “There are no planning policies, national or local, that would support such a large scale, intense residential development in such an isolated and open area of countryside within the national park.”

NPA members are set to make a decision on the revocation of the certificate of lawfulness during a full authority meeting tomorrow (Thursday).

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