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National park hosts MP fact finding visit

Group PhotoT

The Society has today, 2 March, issued the following press release:

 

National park “Friends” group, the South Downs Society, has hosted a visit from shadow minister Barry Gardiner MP at Seven Sisters Country Park. The MP was responding to receipt of  “National Parks in the 21st Century: a manifesto for the next Westminster Government”, produced by the Campaign for National Parks (CNP).

 Each national park has its own supportive society, raising funds and campaigning to conserve the special park landscape. CNP is the national umbrella organisation for the national park societies.

 Says South Downs Society chairman, Robert Cheesman, “The manifesto aims to highlight to politicians the vital role the national parks play in the local economy as well as in people’s recreation and enjoyment, and their need for strong planning protection and secure funding. We will be sending it out to prospective parliamentary candidates locally and CNP has circulated it to national politicians of all parties in advance of the general election. Barry Gardiner wanted to hear more and to share his thoughts on possible future legislation and funding for the national parks and our Society was very happy to host his meeting with CNP and local environmental groups in the South Downs.”

 Poor weather and the MP’s tight timetable rather put a dampener on plans to explore the country park and its iconic river meanders but those attending found the meeting very helpful.

 Says Robert Cheesman, “These irreplaceable national assets need friends in high places as well as local support. Whichever party or parties may be in power after the election, it is essential that the national parks are safeguarded and that all sectors of the community are able to appreciate and enjoy them. I believe Mr. Gardiner was taking careful note of what we all had to say.”

 

 

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Making contributions to affordable housing in National Parks

Defined as new housing made available at lower than current market price to reflect local ability to pay, “affordable housing” is seen as one way of helping local people to stay close to the communities in which they grew up, often providing important services within those communities. Accordingly, planning policies are often more favourably disposed towards the provision of such dwellings than to new four or five bedroom houses, more likely to be bought by “incomers”. And especially so in the national parks, where there will usually be a presumption against building large numbers of new houses.

Because they do not yield the same profit as “market” housing, the building of affordable homes is often subsidised by the former, and planning authorities require an appropriate contribution to affordable housing. Government has consulted recently on establishing a size threshold (minimum 10 houses), below which a new development would not be required to make any financial contribution to affordable provision. Our concern is that house prices in the national parks are generally higher than elsewhere and the need for affordable homes is marked. Also, most new housing developments in the parks tend to be small, so the removal of this obligation for small developments to make a contribution could make it more difficult to provide the level of affordable housing needed to support local communities. Through our national “umbrella” body, the Campaign for National Parks, we have submitted our objection to this proposal in terms of its application in national parks.  Click HERE to see the full CNP response.