NATIONAL PARK MINEFIELD…
NATIONAL PARK MINEFIELD
I may one day write a book which will be based on the trials and tribulations of trying to help bring about a small, affordable, housing development in a New Forest village.
For two years now, I have been closely involved in working up a scheme that has the very simple aim of doing something about the problem that National Parks are fast becoming places where only the rich can afford to live.
Increasingly, young people who grew up in the New Forest are being forced to live outside it. New Forest homes are amongst the highest priced in the country. Many of them are now second homes, only occupied some weekends and holidays.
If young people are forced out, or "priced out" there are all sorts of socially undesirable consequences, including the break down of balanced communities, increased commuting, loss of local skills.
Most people think that there should be some affordable homes available in every New Forest community. However, until I got involved in trying to deliver something (in my spare time), I had no idea about all of the challenges that this involves.
It's not just about conforming with Planning Policy (although that's hard enough in National Parks), it's also about accessing the funding, setting up a company, working with fellow Directors, satisfying Ecologists, Archeologists, Environment Agency, Verderers, Commoner's Defence Association, getting the design right, instructing builders, project management, Parish Council, Planning Committee members, Charity Commissioners, wider Community engagement and consultation.. and I am sure I have missed a few other things.
There does seem to be a willingness on the part of most people to co-operate and most of the officers and officials I have dealings with are very helpful…. but boy….. seeing that this is an entirely voluntary, not for profit venture, I can now understand why so few people are willing to tread through this landmine infested territory.
I have got to the stage where it seems the challenges are so steep that you cannot understand exactly why you agreed to do it in the first place except that sheer bloody mindedness takes over. Maybe it will yet succeed, maybe not…. we will see!
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