New national park policies to boost affordable homes and limit house sizes
NEW policies for the construction of 800 homes in the New Forest National Park have come into force with home-size limits, more affordable housing and a series of major development sites.
The 20-year Local Plan has been officially adopted after being approved by NPA members following sign-off by government inspectors with a number of changes to the original draft.
It includes four key sites for a combined 300 homes in Lyndhurst, Sway, Ashurst and next to Fawley power station, as well as rules on design, commoners’ dwellings and environmental protections.
NPA chair Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: “Our planning policies play a key role in protecting the national park’s special qualities and wildlife, supporting the local economy and conserving the distinctive New Forest character of our villages and rural areas.
“This updated Local Plan is an extremely significant step for the authority and allows our planning service to continue its important work in helping to protect and enhance the Forest for future generations.”
- limiting new homes’ floorspace to 100 square metres and one to three bedrooms, plus removing permitted development rights, to balance housing stock
- restricting new retirement or care homes to Ashurst, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst and Sway, and only for local people
- a target of 50% affordable for developments adding a net three homes or more
- exceptions permitted for genuine commoners’ dwellings outside villages
- conditions to allow new rural homes for estate, agricultural or forestry workers
- all homes on ‘rural exception’ sites should be affordable
The list of major development sites is the first of its kind drawn up by the NPA and will provide about 300 homes, with a target of 50% as affordable. Around 120 are earmarked for land south of Fawley power station, as part of the overall 1,500-home development plan.
Around 60 homes have been allocated off Whartons Lane in Ashurst; 40 south of Church Lane in Sway; and 50 at the former Lyndhurst Park Hotel where “historic elements” are to be retained. The site is at the centre of plans by Pegasus Life to turn it into retirement housing.
Thirty homes initially allocated for Calshot, on land south of the B3054, have been deleted. In their place is the same number of residential care units on land at Ashurst hospital deemed surplus by the NHS.
The former workhouse building and Victorian chapel there will be retained as part of the redevelopment of the site, and the modern birthing centre possibly extended.
An additional pitch for gypsies and travellers has also been identified at the existing site at Forest View, in Landford.
The NPA said it had also tightened up policy on major development to be permitted only “in exceptional circumstances” and “in the public interest”.
Conservation group Friends of the New Forest – formerly the New Forest Association – broadly welcomed the document, particularly its focus on affordable housing, home size and more control on how the Lyndhurst Park Hotel should be developed.
But Bernie Austin, chair of the Friends’ planning committee, said it also had concerns about 120 homes being built on national park land as part of the power station scheme. Developer Fawley Waterside Ltd says without it, the viability of the overall plan would be in doubt.
Mr Austin said: “It’s not intrinsically valuable land but we’re the smallest national park in the country and the most densely populated. It’s a further loss of land and is to enable a site outside the national park to be developed.
“That’s really not something the national park authority should be concerned about. We’re very unhappy that they included that land.”
During the public hearings into the draft plan last year, developers unsuccessfully called for the NPA to loosen construction rules on the edge of the park. Some villagers objected to housing allocations near them, warning of parking and flooding issues.
The policy review began in 2015 and included several rounds of consultation with the public and a range of organisations. The previous plan had a target of 500 new homes. The set of policies cover the period 2016-36.
New Forest District Council, which is responsible for the area outside the national park, is currently in the last stages of its own Local Plan for 10,500 homes by 2036.
The new Local Plan can be viewed at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/localplan.