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  • Dorset and East Devon National Park Team

Purbeck looks forward to Natural England’s next assessment

At a full Council meeting on Tuesday 8th August, Purbeck District Councillors voted unanimously to support a recommendation that “Council notes with interest the Dorset National Park proposal and the opportunities this could offer to keep Purbeck special; keeps the proposals under review; and looks forward to Natural England undertaking the next stage of its evaluation in 2018."

The vote followed a detailed appraisal of the proposals by a policy development panel of Councillors supported by officers who drew on a range of evidence including from a visit to the South Downs National Park – the most appropriate comparator.

The key points informing the panel’s recommendation were:

  • National Park designation would ensure that appropriate resources would be allocated to managing the impacts of recreation in the area.

  • National parks are funded by central government and the resources are ring-fenced for the duties of a National Park – conserving and enhancing the environment and heritage, promoting recreation, and fostering the economic and social wellbeing of NP communities.

  • When considering development in a National Park, the primary purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty must be taken into account. This is generally effective in discouraging inappropriate development. National Parks also focus on local need for housing including for affordable homes.

While the panel wondered if areas directly adjacent to the National Park but not in it might need to accommodate more housing, this need not be the case.

Natural England have said they will evaluate the proposal as soon as resources allow. The proposal fits closely with the key themes of Natural England’s “Conservation21” strategy, to:

  • create resilient landscapes and seas

  • put people at the heart of the environment, and

  • grow natural capital.

The Dorset National Park Team, joined by other interested organisations, therefore hopes Natural England will give the proposal priority in their evaluation programme, and make a timely start on this important assessment in 2018.

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