Friends of Brockenhurst
We are currently faced with challenging and difficult times. Friends of Brockenhurst would like to help the local community and have provided some important information and links on our Covid-19 page. We are also linking to the local Brockenhurst Covid Support Group on Facebook for additional information.
Volunteers are available in Brockenhurst to help anyone who needs it.
Please stay safe and stay alert.
We look into all aspects of planning issues within Brockenhurst to help to keep the beauty, heritage and special characteristics of our village in place.
The AGM will be postponed until further notice.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, it has been agreed to postpone our Annual General Meeting normally held in November. Until we are able to hold an AGM, all Committee Members will be remain in office until the postponed meeting is convened.
ARTICLE FROM THE FLOOD ACTION GROUP
You may have noticed that, despite the exceptionally heavy rain this winter, the underpasses on Balmer Lawn Road and the road to Sway hardly flooded. But for Covid 19, I would have given a talk on what we we did to achieve that at the Spring Meeting.
The Parish Council had set up BFAG in 2016 but closed it down in the drought years that followed. However, as Coordinator of the Group, I carried on to complete the outstanding Action Plans and look to the future. I had won funding from Hampshire’s Challenge Fund, which enabled me to get up to speed on national policy, climate change and latest techniques, like Natural Flood Management.
In the light of that and the experience of this winter, it is clear that there is more to be done, not just to keep our roads open but to improve the Flood Resilience of the Village. We are looking to re-form BFAG as an independent group, calling for volunteers, as I have found it both interesting and fun.
The Environment Agency’s flood risk map shows there are 185 properties at risk in the Village. None has recently come close, even in this winters’ rains, but nonetheless latest Met Office Climate Change forecasts for the New Forest are for even more severe storms and drought longer term.
Fortunately, the New Forest is the perfect place to put benign and cost effective techniques like Natural Flood Management (“NFM”), into practice, not just for flood prevention but to manage water for the benefit of all those that live in and derive their living from the Forest and its ecology.
The Environment Agency has now allocated substantial funds to look at using NFM to protect Village properties, after I made the case for it in 2017 and again for the Wetlands Review. If we are to ensure the funding is used to best effect, we need volunteers to help survey potential areas, canvas the opinions of those most directly affected and enlist community support.
Moreover, we learnt from fixing our road flooding problems that, if you work with all the local businesses, landowners and authorities directly involved, it is often possible to fix problems at low cost. Working directly with Hants Highways, for example, we could observe what was really happening and help diagnose the precise cause.
In the Balmer Lawn Road underpass we found that the water was coming up the drains - off the railway line, not off the road,- and the solution was completed with the help of the Landowner, the Pig Hotel and Network Rail, saving Highways c£100,000.
More work is also needed with them, particularly on Mill Lane, where there remains “threat to life” as, when the river overtops it, water flowing across the Lane can sweep cars sideways into a very deep ditch and three people have nearly drowned.
A NEW LOCAL PLAN:
Planning decisions are determined by national policy, largely the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the local authority's Local Plan. The New Forest National Park adopted a new local plan in September that will guide policy, with periodic reviews, until 2036.
Changes as they affect Brockenhurst are limited.
Friends of Brockenhurst have been involved in the new plan for the past several years. A primary aim was to avoid an expansion of the defined village development boundary. We would have liked to see a few areas removed but in the event the boundary was not changed. FoB were helped in defending the boundary by national changes regarding flood risk and the decision of Natural England not to allow the Park to plan housing within 400m of the New Forest Special Protection Area. Virtually all of Brockenhurst is within that zone. It is not clear how this ruling will affect the odd additional house built in the village and FoB are seeking clarification in the hope that increased restrictions will assist in resisting garden grabbing in the spacious parts of the village.
FoB wanted the new plan to ensure any houses built reflected the needs of village residents - smaller houses with many affordable for local families. We had only mixed success. All new applications must be for dwellings of less than 100 square metres, (an example is the new house by the Latchmoor railway bridge), but no limit has been put on extensions to existing houses. Flats in any new managed complex can only be for existing residents of New Forest District. (we had hoped that the limit would be to existing residents of the National Park). While the National Park Authority wanted 50% of new dwellings in developments of two or more to be affordable, the inspectors changed that 50% to a target. On current form the National Park will fall miles below that figure and the children of local families will continue to be forced elsewhere for their homes.
Formed in 1956 the Society exists to protect, improve and develop the character and amenities of Brockenhurst and the surrounding forest area for the benefit of the residents of the village and the wider community.
It concentrates especially, but not exclusively, on matters related to planning, environment and the welfare of the community.
It will seek to influence local and other governmental bodies to advance its objectives.
In particular the Society will carry out regular and detailed reviews of all regional, structure and local plans, together with local planning applications. Representations will be made as appropriate.