A new discussion paper ‘The Dorset & East Devon National Park – how it would work in practice‘ examines how the Dorset & East Devon National Park Authority (NPA) would deliver greater influence for rural communities, as well as working efficiently with partner Local Authorities to improve services and financial outcomes.
Benefitting all communities, a National Park would bring:
Additional and more certain funding benefitting all councils, communities and the economy. In addition to an assured central government grant of maybe £10 million per year, NPAs secure further funding and help others eg farmers to do so.
A stronger partnership way of working. A NPA is a partnership and operates through partnerships. A small % of NPA funding goes on running costs. The vast majority is spent through partnerships with communities, farmers, landowners, businesses, the not-for-profit sector.
Enhanced local representation, influence and voice for rural communities. Elected council representatives make up three quarters of the NPA, and Parish and Town Councils are a third of these. A NPA would strengthen grass roots democratic influence and representation.
Enhanced Planning influence and capability. A NPA would ensure local control of Planning, with no Government-imposed housing targets. It makes the Local and Management Plan for the NP in consultation with communities and others. NPAs approve a higher % of planning applications than other Local Authorities because they work hard for good, sustainable development in the right places, to support communities, local affordable housing, employment, and services.
Increased coherence and expertise. A NPA would bring joined up thinking, policy and delivery across the environment and economy, and expertise eg in land management, conservation, heritage, recreation, community liaison, and Planning.
Our National Parks not only conserve and enhance our environment and heritage, they also promote thriving and resilient rural economies and communities.
This important aspect is covered in an independent study: ‘Economic Opportunities, Benefits and Wider Impacts of a Dorset and East Devon National Park’.
Local government re-organisation provides an opportunity for Dorset councils to include a National Park as part of a Devolution proposal to government in 2017.
These studies are significant contributions to this debate on our future.