New Forest National Park Authority responds to Government’s proposed new planning reformsPUBLISHED ON: 28 OCTOBER 2020
The New Forest National Park Authority has responded to the Government’s Planning for the Future White Paper which proposes radical changes to the planning system throughout England.
In August the Government launched a consultation on wide-ranging and fundamental planning reforms across the country. Members of the New Forest NPA responded this week, after considering the submission at the Authority Meeting on 15 October.
In its response to the proposed Planning for the Future: White Paper, the NPA said its main concerns centred on the lack of any mention of planning in National Parks and how the new planning system would apply to areas of environmental significance such as the New Forest, which currently have the highest protection.
New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Gavin Parker said: ‘We would not want to see any of the existing protections given to National Parks weakened further and would hope the Government takes the opportunity to strengthen existing safeguards aligned to the emerging Agriculture and Environment Bills, as well as the Government’s 25 year plan for the environment.
‘We have raised concerns about proposals which would allow more types of development without needing planning permission. We’re also concerned that the proposed changes appear to make it harder for local people to engage with the planning system, both at the strategic plan-making stage and in considering applications for new development.
‘We accept that the current planning system is not a perfect one. There are aspects of the proposed reforms that we would welcome, including a greater emphasis on better designed buildings and simplifying processes, providing these are not at the expense of undermining existing protections that currently apply in the New Forest.’
The White Paper also proposes introducing more enforcement powers and sanctions to address intentional unauthorised development, to consider higher fines, and ways of supporting necessary enforcement activity.
Steve Avery, the NPA’s Executive Director of Strategy and Planning, said: ‘We welcome the White Paper’s acknowledgement that robust enforcement action should be taken if planning rules are broken, and the proposal to strengthen enforcement powers and sanctions. We are currently frustrated at the lack of enforcement powers available to us to address damaging developments within the National Park.
‘We have also asked for more support for affordable housing in National Parks.’
The NPA’s response is based on its role as sole local planning authority for the 220 square miles of the New Forest National Park. Its statutory planning function covers development management; plan-making (including minerals & waste planning) and planning enforcement. It deals with more than 900 planning applications each year, 85% of which are approved.
The New Forest National Park is home to over 35,000 residents. To inform its consultation response, the NPA asked the town and parish councils within the National Park for their views.