Nearly 70 years after legislation was brought in to protect some of England’s finest landscapes, the Government carried out a review into whether National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are still fit for purpose. Led by Julian Glover The Review, published in September 2019, makes 27 recommendations, which would see National Parks and AONBs more closely aligned, with shared purposes and for AONBs greater powers and resources, supported by a National Landscape Service, improved governance and finance models.
The Review proposes that national landscapes become the backbone for Nature Recovery Networks and play a central role in the Environmental Land Management Scheme. There is a stronger mission to connect people with the protected landscapes and in particular to increase the ethnic diversity of visitors as well as to offer meaningful economic and social support to communities within national landscapes.
More details can be found here.
Members of the Panel have visited many AONBs and National Parks, including the South Downs. The SDLM submitted evidence which can be found here.
The South Downs Local Plan was adopted by the National Park Authority in July 2019. It is the first Local Plan to cover the whole of the South Downs National Park. It sets out strategic and non-strategic policies (including site allocation policies) which form part of the statutory development plan for the area. It is a landscape-led plan that reflects the national parks’ statutory purposes and duty, and which seeks to capture the principles of ‘ecosystem services’.
The South Downs Local Plan was subject to examination by an independent Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. The adopted Plan incorporates the Main Modifications recommended by the Inspector as set out the Appendix to the Report on the Examination of the South Downs Local Plan 2014-2033 dated 18 June 2018. The Inspector’s Report is available on the South Downs National Park website at http://www.southdowns.gov.uk/localplan.
The South Downs Local Plan was submitted in Spring 2018. Following a series of public hearings, the Inspector invited the South Downs National Park Authority to consult on a schedule of main modifications. These changes have been considered or in some cases proposed by the Inspector with regard the soundness and legal compliance of the South Downs Local Plan. The schedule includes all the main changes made since the publication of the Pre-submission Local Plan in September 2017.The SDLM response to the main modifications can be found here.
The Plan which sets out how the National Park will develop in the future has much to be commended in it. The South Downs Land Managers made detailed comments at the Preferred Options stage. They welcomed the positive approach to development taken within the plan, providing a good balance between the statutory purposes of the National Park and the Authorities duty to have regard to the social and economic well being of the area.
Whilst the policy to conserve historic agricultural buildings was supported. Particular concern was raised to the proposed requirement for redundant more modern agricultural buildings to be demolished after a period of 3 years. Not only would this be a significant cost to the landowner but also, it was felt, shortsighted due to the dynamic nature of farming.
The SDLM welcomed the proposed introduction of farm and estate plans delivering multiple benefits, to assist in seeking exceptional development or diversification projects, but sought assurance that the scale of the plan should be commensurate with the size of the farm/estate and the scale of the proposed development.
The SDLM objected to the inclusion of a condition in the policy on agricultural and forestry workers dwellings that no other dwellings on or closely connected to the holding have been sold within the past 10 years.
We were pleased to see that the SDNPA had taken up our suggestion to use the FARMA guidelines for the split between local, regional and other produce that can be sold at farm shops.
Other Current Issues include:
Community Infrastructure Levy - The CIL strategy has been adopted by the SDNPA and will come into force on 1st April 2017. .
Incentives: Future of agri-environment and woodland grant schemes and ecosystems service payments; future of Park Authority incentives schemes and their attractiveness and accessibility to land managers.
Public access: opportunities from access, and, conflicts with commercial interests.
Rural Crime: need to improve reporting and response.
Water: availability, quality.
Value for Money: does enough of the Park Authority expenditure actually improve the managed landscape
Agriculture & Forestry: how will the Park Authority work with us to support sustainable businesses which can deliver landscape objectives.
To tell us your views on current issues important to you, Email South Downs Land Managers.
Our Consultation Responses
SDLM response to the Partnership Management Plan
South Downs National Park Community Infrastructure Levy Draft Charging Schedule
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