Park Plans consultation closes

Published Friday 14 November 2008

The Authority received around 9,000 responses to the draft Park Plan and the draft Recreation Management Strategy.

‘Thank you for letting us have your views.’  That was the message from Clive Chatters, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, as the formal consultation on the draft National Park Plan and draft Recreation Management Strategy closed today (Friday 14 November).

The Authority received around 9,000 responses to the draft Park Plan and the draft Recreation Management Strategy. The figure is made up of 900 completed response forms, letters or e-mails from individuals and organisations, of which initial analysis suggests that 65% have raised objections to the recreational horse-keeping policy; 900 standard letters or variations of the letter from NFDOG; and approximately 7,200 signatures on a petition by the Forest Uprising Group.

Although the majority of the responses focused on issues to do with recreational horse-keeping a wide range of other matters featured in many responses including policies on car parks related to dog-walking, zoning and local businesses among others.

Clive Chatters said: ‘We have heard and understood people’s concerns over how the plans are presented and some aspects of the content.  The purpose of a consultation period is to get people’s views on draft proposals and we are especially grateful to those who have taken the time and trouble to suggest constructive ways in which the plans can be improved.

‘Officers now have an important piece of work to do in analysing the responses and reporting them to members so that we can debate, improve and agree the National Park Plan.  Although the formal consultation is over, the conversation about the plans will continue as the process moves into a new phase.’

The next stages are:

  • November-December 2008: officers analyse the responses.  In view of the volume and detailed nature of the comments, this is likely to take some weeks.
  • December 2008: a report on the results of the public consultation is prepared for the National Park Authority; workshops and meetings with statutory bodies, key organisations and parish councils to share the results of the public consultation.
  • January-February 2009: further meetings including working groups to review and propose revisions to those polices that have created the most concern during the consultation.  These groups are likely to look at recreational horse-keeping, zoning policy, recreation (including dogs), business and community needs, and traffic.  The full range of views will be represented at the working groups.  Further meetings will also be held in parishes or villages to consider the way forward.
  • Spring 2009: revised draft National Park Plan goes to the full National Park Authority for approval; action and implementation plans will be developed.
  • After the Authority meeting: if the Park Plan is approved, the Local Development Framework ‘Core Strategy’, which is the planning policies  integrated into the Plan, will be subject to a further six-week statutory public consultation and, some months later, independent public examination.
  • Summer 2009: revised draft Recreation Management Strategy goes to the full National Park Authority for approval; action and implementation plans will be developed.

Clive Chatters said: ‘Ultimately it is National Park Authority members who must make decisions on what kind of Plan to adopt but, following this consultation, they will do so with a very clear idea of the kind of concerns and interests that people have raised.

‘While issues surrounding horses, dogs and road-pricing have dominated the headlines during the consultation, I am pleased that the vast majority of the Plan, including the Vision for the National Park and the overall objectives and priorities for the New Forest, proved largely uncontroversial and received widespread support from our key partners.  Almost everyone cares about the long-term future of the New Forest and understands that this Plan can do a great deal to safeguard that future.

‘The important task for us now is to address the aspects of the proposals that have caused concern and ensure that the Plan is improved, widely supported and agreed.’

Nearly 2,000 copies of the draft Park Plan and Recreation Management Strategy were sent out during the consultation period and there were 31,500 hits on the draft Park Plan web pages and 11,500 on the draft Recreation Management Strategy web pages.

ends

Media Contact:
Karen Evans, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646650
Email: karen.evans@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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