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Secretary of State Overrules Appeal Inspector’s Recommendation and Turns Down An Application for 5 Megawatt Solar Array in New Forest National Park

The NFA rigorously opposed the original application for an array in Vaggs Lane Hordle believing that this solar array would be a landscape spoiler, that it would be an inefficient use of the precious land of this National Park and that particular protection is needed for this corner of the Park nearest to the Bournemouth/Poole built up area. The application was refused by the National Park Authority. It was then appealed and the inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed. The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State “because the appeal site lies within the New Forest National Park and he wishes to consider himself whether or not the development proposal would have any impact on the National Park.” The Secretary of State disagreed with the Inspector’s recommendation and dismissed the appeal.

The full report may be found at: – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/511306/16-03-30_DL_IR_Limolands_Farm_3006387.pdf with conclusions summarised in paragraphs 21 to 23:-

Overall balance and conclusions
21.The Secretary of State concludes that, as the appeal scheme conflicts with CSDM Policies CP4 and CP5, it cannot be regarded as being in accordance with the development plan; and he is satisfied that, in accordance with paragraph 215 of the Framework, the relevant CSDM policies can be given full weight as being consistent with the Framework. Hence, in accordance with section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, he has gone on to consider whether there are sufficient material considerations to indicate that the appeal should nevertheless be determined otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.

22.With regard to the material considerations in favour of the scheme, the Secretary of State gives substantial weight to the contribution the scheme would make to the Government’s commitment to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping to improve the security of energy supply. He also gives moderate weight to the bio-diversity benefits of the proposed scheme and to the benefits to the local economy from long term farming security and farm diversification. However, against those considerations, the Secretary of State considers that, as a “major development”, the scheme fails to accord with the terms of the Framework, particularly paragraphs112 and115-116, and he gives substantial weight to that conflict. He also gives substantial weight to the loss of 3.9 ha of BMV land for the appeal scheme in view of the lack of compelling evidence to justify that loss; and moderate weight to the negative impact of the proposal on visual amenity with no weight to the potential reversibility of the proposal.
23.Overall, the Secretary of State considers that the benefits of the scheme are outweighed by the factors weighing against it and that there are no exceptional circumstances that would nevertheless justify the scheme. He therefore concludes that there are no material considerations in favour of the proposal of sufficient weight to justify determining the appeal other than in accordance with the development plan.

Graham Baker
NFA Planning

What’s in a name?

The Rose & Crown, Brockenhurst (photo: G.Baker)

The Rose and Crown may have its name changed to The Huntsman if owners, Marston, get their way.

Unfortunately the National Park’s conservation officer reported:

It has been established that the existing name dates from c.1900 [and the subsequent conclusion that] is not considered that the proposed name change will have a significant impact upon the character and appearance of the listed building as one of special architectural and historic interest …

Challenging this view, Graham Baker, our Planning Committee Chair, consulted Richard Reeves, a well respected local historian and NFA Council member. Richard’s findings on the origins of the pub’s name tell a very different story:

The name Rose and Crown has been in use since at least 1787 and was recorded in the Survey by Thomas Richardson of the Whitley Ridge and Lady Cross Walks of the Forest.

The next preceding record before this which I am aware of in for 1770 in the Forest Rental lists. Here it is recorded as the Three Crowns. The earliest reference of this name is the fuelwood list for 1725.
From 1725 the occupier was a member of the Collis family and they continued in occupation into the second half of the 19th century. They first appear in the Brockenhurst Parish Registers in 1718, John the first known landlord died in 1754, aged 63, and is buried in the Churchyard He was from a Worcestershire family of good standing.

Before the property came to be known as the Three Crowns it was called Rookley’s messuage, a name derived from Robert Rookley Head, Forester of the South Bailiwick, who died in about 1544. The 1670 Claim for Forest Rights by William Knapton (Lord of the Manor of Brockenhurst) records the property as Rockely’s messuage. Another corrupt version of the name, Brookley’s, is recorded in the sale by Philip Cray to Edward Morant in 1772. Cray was the Lord of the Manor of Brockenhurst, while Morant’s family went on to become Lords of the Manor.

In c.1604, the property was recorded as follows:

“One messuage and 1 close of meadow grounds adjoining to the same and compassed about with lanes on every side in the occupation of Tristram Elmes as tenant to Mr Knapton, Lord; acreage 6-1-0; annual value 3-6-8.”

Graham’s objection from the NFA to the proposal concludes:

The name is of special interest in the Village, [and] is intertwined with Village history and within the village only St Nicholas Church and Ash Cottage significantly pre-date it. [The ] NFA contends that the proposal to remove the lettering Rose and Crown from the front of the building will have a significant impact upon the character and appearance of the listed building as one of special architectural and historic interest. It is surprising that a new business venture should start by alienating the village and regular visitors, and NFA respectfully ask the applicant to withdraw and reconsider.

A mere name change may seem like a standard practice, a re-branding trotted out in the business model of a chain of interchangeable concerns. But, in the New Forest, our heritage is written in the names of our woodland inclosures, our villages, and even our humble pubs.

Thanks to Graham Baker and Richard Reeves for their work shared here.

We Won! We Won!

At the New Forest National Park Authority Development Control meeting this morning the application for old peoples’ flats on the Redmayne site at Brockenhurst was unanimously refused. Also unanimously refused was the well meaning but dangerous proposal for mixed housing and a car park in the small gap between the Ashurst Village and West Totton against which the NFA has rigorously campaigned.

It may seem odd to crow “We Won!” over a car park and old peoples flats.  The car park however would have wiped out Ashurst allotments, grazing land, and other green space, it is significantly distant from the village centre, it’s sole remaining purpose would be to alleviate the twice daily school run congestion on a residential road with its own adequate parking.

The old peoples flat opposition is somewhat more complex.  It relates to developers seeking to score money out of retirees from outside the area whilst not creating enough housing stock for starting local families, and young commoners.  This seems slightly mean until you realize how few new properties may be developed within the appropriately tightly controlled confines of the National Park.

For the NFA Planning Committee’s responses to the Planning Authority see the links below:

30 March 2015 Application: 15/00138 Redmayne Engg Co., Station Approach, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TW 24 retirement apartments; car parking; air source heat pumps and sub station; landscaping     NFA Response

Objection

2nd May 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility    

19th April 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility

NFA Planning committee – Minerals & Waste Pound Bottom – Latest Position

The site is heading towards closure and the NFNPA would be unlikely to receive favourably any application to extend operations in any way. Further it is believed the operating company, SCS, have determined to exit from this type of work. Closure involves filling the remaining holes with waste and capping with top soil to restore the original contours and restoring land to original condition – heathland or grassland. There is no planning date for completion and the recent downturn in the construction industry and recycling improvements have reduced the demand for landfill. Both NFNPA and NFA would prefer to see the site closed sooner rather than later to end HGV movements in the north of the Forest. NFA would consider compromises to contour and vegetation cover to achieve earlier closure.
At a 2013 appeal hearing to an activity on the site, (NB not the full closure of the site), the Inspector stated:

“Because I have allowed the appeal to facilitate the final cessation of landfill operations in this location a time-limited permission is both necessary and reasonable. ……. The appellant confirmed at the Hearing that the end to landfill operations and restoration is anticipated by 2018-2020. The NPA sought an end date of 2016, but this appears unrealistic given the EA permit and current progress on the landfill operations. Accordingly, I have imposed a condition requiring the use of the land for stockpiling to cease by 31 December 2019 with restoration completed by 31 December 2020, because this provides for a balance between the environmental harm and the needs of the business.”

NFNPA Enforcement, who undertake regular site visits, have informed NFA in April 2015 that they do not have any different information other than the potential end date of 2020.

The information contained in this summary is believed to be accurate but no guarantee can be given.

— Graham Baker, Chair, Planning Committee

New Forest Association opposes proposed Thorns Beach development

The New Forest Association has voiced strong opposition to a proposed coastal development at Thorns Beach near Beaulieu in a formal letter to the National Park Authority.

The Association, which has been championing the interests of the New Forest since 1867, says it has serious concerns about the threat to protected coastal land at Thorns Beach and surrounding areas and is also worried about the precedent that could be set if the development goes ahead.

The planning application, from Ineos CEO Jim Ratcliffe, includes the proposed development of a new dwelling, boathouse, ancillary accommodation and sun house at Thorns Beach, replacing a summer house.

“We have a very good working relationship with Ineos and have welcomed the business opportunities and benefits that the company has brought to the New Forest,” said New Forest Association Planning Committee Chair Peter Roberts.

“However, this proposal for a private dwelling is an intrusion in an unspoilt and protected area of coastal development. Most of the north Solent shoreline is designated as a Special Protection Area and/or Special Area of Conservation under European Directives, and is subject to the Habitats Regulations 1994.

“Our role in the NFA is to protect and preserve all that is good and unique in the New Forest, securing it for future generations. We feel very strongly that this development is a serious threat to the New Forest coastal area and sets a dangerous precedent which could lead to more development in this precious area in the future.

“The New Forest National Park has an undervalued but very important unspoilt coastline between Calshot and Keyhaven. It offers rewarding vistas of the Solent and the Isle of Wight and is home to a variety of wildlife that changes with the seasons. It offers tranquillity and is largely free of modern industry although home to important historical salt workings.

“Quiet lanes alongside hedged field add to a rare feeling of an unchanged landscape set in a modern world. This is an area that requires protection from man’s intrusive development plans. The largely unchanged view of the coastline from the Solent is an important aspect of this and should be maintained.”

The NFA has set out its objections to the development in detail in its letter to the National Park Authority, dated March 11, 2011.

[A copy of the letter with its detailed objections can be seen here.]

Verderers Reject Mobile Shop Proposal

After one of the longest Verderers Courts of recent times (nearly an hour), consisting of many Presentments against the Forest Holidays Mobile Shop proposal, including the NFA’s, and only two Forest Marque producers lobbying for the proposal, the Verderers have turned Forest Holidays down. The Verderers have issued this press release:

FOREST HOLIDAYS RETAIL VAN

In view of their existing policies on camping and recreational facilities, the Verderers have today decided that they are regrettably unable to give their agreement to the provision of a mobile shop at three of the Forestry Commission’s campsites in the New Forest.

The decision has been taken in response to an earlier request for the Verderers’ agreement under the provisions of Section 1(2) of the New Forest Act of 1970.

Written reasons for the decision will be given in a letter to the Deputy Surveyor, Mr Michael Seddon, a copy of which will be available on the Verderers’ website.

The Official Verderer said “This has not been an easy decision to make because we do sympathise with the Forestry Commission’s wish to make these campsites viable, but our policy is very clear on these sorts of matters and we sadly cannot support further urbanisation of the Open Forest”.

In a more detailed response to the Deputy Surveyor, the Official Verderer gave more detailed reasons for the rejection including “a mobile shop will further impinge on the peace and tranquillity that is offered by the open Forest; [and would] encourage the ongoing interference with the exercise of common rights on the Open forest”.

[To read the full Letter to the Deputy Surveyor, click here (document maintained by the Verderers http://www.verderers.org.uk/)]

New Forest Association Further Slams Forest Holidays Disregard for Forest Law

At the June Verderers court the NFA once again attacked Forest Holidays for their blatant disregard for the New Forest Acts. The New Forest Acts require application to the Verderers for any new facility, equipment or accommodation. Forest Holidays have expressed a mistaken notion that they did not require the Verderers consent for the proposed mobile shops, asking only for “agreement and support”. Forest Holidays have already begun to offer pre-erected tents and pre-pitched caravans for which they have not even bothered to ask permission of the Verderers.

In their presentment, the NFA contended that this is a very serious breach of both the spirit and the letter of the law:

“We would urge the Verderers to use every means at their disposal to ensure that they [the New Forest Acts] are adhered to. We ask the Verderers to reject the mobile shop, and to ask Forest Holidays to immediately cease and desist providing the pre-pitched tents and caravans on any New Forest Campsite.

Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission should not be permitted to ignore the guidance of the Verderers or their protective duties to the Forest under the New Forest Acts.”

The Verderers will announce their response to the Mobile Shop proposal after their post court meeting. The NFA will continue to press the issue of the pre-pitched tents and caravans.

[To read a full text of the NFA June presentment , see the first comment below, or click here.]

New Forest Association First to Present Against Mobile Shop Proposal

At the May Verderers Court the NFA launched a pre-emptive strike against Forest Holidays proposal to run a twice daily retail van mobile shop service to three of of their New Forest campsites. The Deputy Surveyor presented the proposal to the court on behalf of Forest Holidays, asking for the Verderers “agreement and support” for the proposal. The proposal claims the service would champion the New Forest Marque local produce and would reduce car pollution from campers off-site journeys.

The NFA Presentment took issue, claiming the proposal “fails on its supposed merits.” In hiding their proposal behind the New Forest Marque, “They have dressed up their Trojan horse to look like a New Forest Pony”, and that once market forces took over Forest Holidays would be unlikely to honour a preference for local produce indefinitely. The supposedly eco-friendly reduction of car journeys presents a similar sham as two of the proposed campsites are within easy walking distance of the local shops. Local businesses would inevitably suffer loss of both direct and passing trade. The forest would suffer further ecologically if more goods are bought and consumed on site producing more rubbish and packaging waste.

The NFA further chided Forest Holidays for their overly commercialized attitude as “wholly inappropriate” to the New Forest, and for failing to show the court respect by issuing the proposal through the Forestry Commission rather than sending their own representative.

The Verderers are due to make a decision on the proposal after hearing more from the public during the upcoming June court.

[To read a full text of the NFA May presentment , see the first comment below, or click here.]

Deputy Surveyor Previews Retail Van Proposal

At this month’s New Forest Consultative Panel, the Deputy Surveyor, Mike Seddon, gave basic details of the Forest Holidays proposed campsite retail van, for which he will be asking the Verderers approval in the May Verderers Court. Having taken over the running of the shop at Holmsley campsite last season, Forest Holidays, a joint venture between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club, wish to extend the shop’s offering to three other campsites, Holland’s Wood, Roundhill, and Ashurst.

The Deputy Surveyor’s presentation focussed on Forest Holiday’s aim of carrying New Forest Marque® products on the van, and branding the van itself with the New Forest Marque®. The New Forest Marque® is a branding scheme to promote and identify New Forest produce.
(see http://www.newforestproduce.com/about_the_marque.html for more info).

Forest Holidays will be promising the Verderers “that they are prepared to give preference to local products as far as possible.” They also claim “an ancillary benefit” would be reducing car journeys by campsite visitors.

Panel members slammed the proposal for its disregard for local businesses and the environmental impact on the fabric of the forest. Peter Roberts of the New Forest Association suggested that the proposals were merely “a sideshow”, and that given the statutory duty to insure that the Ancient and Ornamental woodland is kept in good or improving condition, that instead the Forestry Commission should be seeking to “remove the commercial element from the forest” which is doing actual damage to the land. Peter Sopowski, Ashurst and Colbury Parish Council, described the proposal as “a retrograde step” and that the shops dependent on the campsite trade in Ashurst are in easy walking distance of the campsite, and said, “it’s not the thin end of the wedge, it’s the sharp end.” Olive Collins, New Forest Shops Association, said she had “a feeling of deja vu”and gave a potted history of previous attempts to run mobile shops on the campsites, leading to closures of local shops, outrage, the Verderers Court filled to bursting, and the removal of the mobile shops.

[To read a full transcript of the Deputy Surveyor’s statement, see the first comment below, or click here.]

Verderers Frown on Early Campsite Openings

Despite warnings from the Verderers, Forest Holidays have opened their New Forest campsites before the agreed upon date for the second year running. The current agreement states that campsites should not open before the Thursday before Easter Bank Holiday.

The full announcement from the Official Verderer in today’s Court is as follows:

“Forest Campsites:

Almost exactly one year ago we received an unequivocal assurance from the Deputy Surveyor that campsites in the Forest will open only on the agreed date, which is the Thursday before the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend. Last year, the campsites opened earlier than that date, without any notice or prior agreement with ourselves. Having received that assurance we were satisfied that this would not happen again. To our astonishment and considerable dismay the campsites once again have opened early, and we will be seeking a full explanation for this from the Deputy Surveyor when we meet in committee this morning.”

Forest Holidays, which was set up in May 2006, is a public private partnership between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club. While last year’s “mistake” was perhaps more forgiveable in Forest Holiday’s first full year of operation in the New Forest, we can only guess what their excuse is this time. Perhaps they were thrown with last year’s Easter falling in March.