First South Down Parks Local Plan submitted

Sunday 27th May 2018 6:00 am
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The subject of where future housing developments should go in the areas around the South Downs National Park are set to remain very controversial with residents in the district ()

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THE first Local Plan to cover the entire South Downs National Park has been submitted to the Government.

The plan, which attracted 2,520 responses, will have implications for development in the national park, which was first designated back in April 2011.

Areas located in the park at Liphook are Griggs Green, plus land belonging to the Northcott Trust off Longmoor Road as well as Bohunt Park, which is owned by Green Village Investments (GVI) and the Wheatsheaf Enclosure, both off Portsmouth Road.

At present several potential housing sites in the parish would fail to attract support from the SDNP planning authority – because it rules out housing in the area. South Downs National Park Authority chairman Margaret Paren said: “The Local Plan puts our nationally important landscapes first and will ensure they sit at the heart of every planning decision we make.

“The document ‘looks rather different’ from most other local plans because it must recognise the national importance of the landscapes and our duty to conserve and enhance them.”

She added: “But our communities matter too, many of whom have undertaken their own neighbourhood development plans.

“Some need to be able to grow, but this has to be in a way that respects the local environment.

“The plan also sets out the high standards all proposed development must meet to protect and value nature.”

Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council took part in last year’s public consultation held by the SDNPA and said it recognised the importance of the plan being ‘landscape-led,’ as it would ensure the future of the sites of special scientific interests and sites of importance for nature conservation, as well as all landscapes with a ‘key view’ and ‘special qualities.’

The parish council stated it supports policies – such as on dark skies and tranquility – which will provide a sense of well-being within the park, and which should foster a sense of community for residents and visitors alike, ensuring they can enjoy the many recreational opportunities afforded by the 124 miles of footpaths and rights of way within it.

In addition, the parish council felt such rural pursuits could result in a ‘unique tourism opportunity,’ provided access to the park was sensitively managed, ensuring protection of the unique biodiversity.

Councillors added both residents and visitors alike should be given “access to discover, enjoy and value the unique nature of the park, fostering economical and social wellbeing of the larger and smaller communities within the park”.

Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council believes the plan should conserve and enhance as well as protect the natural beauty, wildlife, cultural and archaeological heritage of the national park, promote understanding of its special qualities, to the benefit of both residents and the wider public.

A Neighbourhood Development Plan for the parish is currently being put together by a selected steering group of volunteers to run alongside East Hampshire District Council’s revised Local Plan – as the main planning authority for Bramshott and Liphook.

Liphook’s NDP is due to benefit from EHDC’s Local Plan review and the steering group is keen to work hand-in-hand with the planning authority and its timetable, aiming to have the first draft ready for public consultation by early 2019.

In October, councillors soundly defeated a motion proposed by Don Jerrard who wanted to exclude housing in the park as part of the NDP, as it would be rejected by the SDNPA – making the plan a ‘waste of money’ in his view.

Councillors stated the NDP was a community-led project and the appointed steering committee group should continue its work and efforts to create a space for the community’s voice.

Chairman Jane Ives said: “It was felt all areas within the Bramshott and Liphook parish should be considered by the community as part of the NDP, and it is for them to decide how they wish to use our green spaces.”

District councillors Angela Glass, Bill Mouland and Rebecca Standish warned the NDP would run the risk an inspector would not find the plan to be sound, if the areas located within the national park were excluded and pointed out the plan-making process required consideration of all development options and to predetermine the area of search in advance would undermine the process.

SDNPA’s Local Plan will replace policies from 12 different local authorities with 96 new policies covering the whole of the national park from Winchester to Eastbourne.

It covers a 15-year time span from its projected time of adoption in 2018 until 2033 and sets the policies against which planning applications will be considered and allocates land for a variety of uses.

A series of public hearings will be held by the inspector later this year, probably in Midhurst.

•See www.downs.gov.uk/localplan for details.

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