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New Forest National Park Authority to reinstate duty planning officer phone line

THE national park authority has promised to reinstate a planning officer who can be contacted by phone after complaints by residents.

A number of people have contacted the A&T with concerns that without internet access they have found it difficult to ask questions and check planning applications.

The NPA's offices at Lymington town hall have been shut for many months with staff mostly working from home, due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

New Forest National Park Authority offices at Lymington Town Hall
New Forest National Park Authority offices at Lymington Town Hall

Lymington resident Margaret Norris recently wrote to the A&T complaining that the situation meant she had no way to enquire about a planning application near her home, as she does not use the internet and only has a landline.

She said: "People like myself should not be denied access to those who oversee our national park."

A spokesperson for the NPA said it had been the first planning authority in Hampshire and the first UK national park to hold remote planning committee meetings, so that applications could continue to be considered.

Steve Avery, the NPA’s executive director of strategy and planning, said: "We have worked hard to ensure our planning service can continue throughout the Covid-19 pandemic while keeping members of the public and our staff safe.

"This has included a few staff working at the town hall with the remainder working from home and taking phone calls, while continuing to undertake site visits and site meetings.

"We are following the government guidance and will be reinstating our ‘duty planning officer’ service to answer general planning enquiries in the coming weeks.

"In the meantime, we have tried to call Mrs Norris and left her a telephone message."

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