New Forest District Council Local Plan Review – Consultation
Submission of the Lymington Society
The Lymington Society Accepts the Need for Step Change in Construction of New Dwellings but Rejects NFDC Draft Suggestions for 2960 Homes in the South Coastal Region and Huge Incursions into Lymington and District Greenbelt
In the past both Local Plan house building policies in the NFDC area and across the country have often tried to reduce to the minimum the number of house built in established conurbations and in the countryside and local amenity Societies such as the Lymington Society have resisted the building of large numbers of new dwelling both in towns and especially in the countryside.
We are now however faced with the new reality that the country simply hasn’t been building enough houses and the community needs to re-examine its previous reluctance to contemplate new housing on a large scale and embrace the fact that for the sake of future generations we need large numbers of new homes.
It is from this viewpoint that the Society has carefully examined the new local plan review consultation document to try and ensure that a balance is struck between welcoming new housing developments but being conscious of the effects on the town and the region of very large scale redevelopment.
The Society is conscious of the difficulty faced by the NFDC policy and planning officers as they tried to find sufficient land to meet the huge demand that their surveys have identified will be required between now and 2036 which total some 12,000 dwellings.
The New Forest District Council area consists of a thin strip around the outside of the huge area of the National Park and the NFDC Officers have assesses that for various reasons much of this land is not suitable for redevelopment. This is apparently for reasons such as being close to the National Park or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc. or because of closeness to potential explosive or safety risks such as at Marchwood military base and Fawley refinery.
The Society has previously had private briefings from planning officials at the NFDC who indicated that due to the extensive legally constituted greenbelt in this area and the poor communications which see large numbers of vehicles having to travel across the open forest, Lymington would not be required to accommodate more than maybe 400 to 500 homes in the area in this review ordered by the government.
This more detailed assessment of the land available in the NFDC area for redevelopment reveals that there simply isn’t the room in the area for anything like the 12,000 homes that the housing needs survey suggests will be required without major incursions into the greenbelt around Lymington, Milford on Sea, Everton and Hoddle where upwards of 2,000 new homes are suggested as being achievable, all of which will be in the greenbelt surrounding these communities.
However this is only the first round of planning where sites which can accommodate 100 or more houses have been identified. The next phase of the review will be identifying sites where less than hundred homes can be accommodated, which will without doubt add substantially to the over 2,000 potential housing plots already identified in Lymington and surrounding villages.
This compares for comparison with only 900 homes being suggested the area around Totton.
Having given the draft proposals very careful thought and mindful of the need to build sufficient houses to allow future generations to enjoy the benefits that comes from owning your own home bought at a reasonable price, the Society does not feel that this proposal is equitable for Lymington and surrounding villages which appear to be carrying the lion’s share of the development proposals for the New Forest District Council area as a whole.
Society does not feel that the lack of other alternative sites in the very crowded NFDC region justifies such a huge extension of housing around Lymington and local villages and especially with virtually all of this housing being built in the greenbelt.
Despite the government’s decision at the beginning of this process to continue the protection afforded to greenbelt land the NFDC is suggesting that legal precedents allow development in greenbelt land in exceptional circumstances.
These exceptions were used for instance to allow a small development of housing on the outskirts of Beaulieu village some years ago. This sort of exception would be generally agreed as reasonable but not the wholesale abandonment of greenbelt protection in this area for so many new dwellings.
NFDC attempts to portray much of the greenbelt as either degraded or poorly performing in order to justify such a huge number of new houses being built in the greenbelt is not accepted by many people who live in this area and the outlying villages and the Society urges the NFDC to reconsider these proposals
The Society has real sympathy with the need to increase housing allocation throughout the country and realises that previous resistance to accept housing has to be a thing of the past if future generations are to have somewhere to live at a reasonable price.
The Society was prepared to accept that large numbers of new homes would be needed in this area and that this could make a contribution to helping local people find a home without having to move out of the district. This could also bring much needed affordable housing
However the new NFDC proposals for this huge numbers of houses into the area around Lymington and local villages which is vastly in excess of what was previously expected, is a step too far and will really affect Lymington and other communities nearby in an unacceptable fashion. The fact that the government is restricting the percentage of these new homes set aside for “affordable homes” to only 20% is also very disappointing.
Such a large increase in population in the area will add to the difficulties already experienced by local people in terms of parking and many other aspects of life including schools and health facilities and will radically alter the character of the Town and local villages.
Due to the impossibility of building new roads or improve communications through Lyndhurst or through the New Forest National Park the difficulties that residents already experience will almost certainly increase and could lead to more congestion through Lyndhurst, Brocklehurst level crossing and over the open forest to Beaulieu and the Waterside.
In addition to the large numbers of homes proposed for this area, which the Society finds extremely excessive, the other major concern is the fact that all this extra housing will be in the greenbelt. Whilst accepting that in exceptional circumstances the use of greenbelt land should be considered, the Society does not accept some much of the greenbelt in this area should be taken for large number of houses.
The Society is unhappy with attempts to portray the greenbelt land in this area as “underperforming” or in some way poor quality in an attempt to justify all this extra housing going into the greenbelt.
The Society also feels that the consultation is also disingenuous in saying that the reduction of the greenbelt proposed is only a small percentage of the total greenbelt in the District. The fact is that around the individual conurbations in the South Coast around Lymington and surrounding villages the percentage last will be much greater if these proposals go ahead.
It may well be that simply isn’t enough suitable land in the district council area to meet the needs of the local population to the level insisted on by the government and that the NFDC will have to make representations to government to seek exemption from these new planning laws.
However a lack of suitable land in the NFDC area should not be used as an excuse to build so many new homes around Lymington and local villages nearby.
We urge the NFDC to re-examine its assessment of land elsewhere in the District and see if after they can’t find sufficient land to avoid imposing so many houses to the greenbelt land around Lymington.
If the level of house building needed to satisfy the new housing requirement cannot be accommodated in the district without deep inroads into the greenbelt the NFDC may have to advise the government that due to its particular geography an exception needs to be made to reduce the number of dwelling able to be accommodated.
Lymington Society Press Spokesman