Test Valley Borough Council is one of seven organisations that will benefit from a government grant.
The £250,000 grant is for a study into the impact of recreational pressure on the New Forest, arising from new housing development in south west Hampshire and south Wiltshire and how this could be addressed.
Earlier this year the Council submitted the bid to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government as a joint working initiative with the other organisations* and learnt last week that it has been successful in obtaining the full grant.
The Ministry said that the scheme “scored highly on the scale and strength of the proposal, its commitment to effective planning across authority boundaries and the potential to accelerate the delivery of housing growth.”
Deputy Leader of the Council and Planning Portfolio Holder, Councillor Nick Adams-King said: “We want to ensure we balance the strategic issues the area faces – delivering the homes needed whilst conserving the natural environment.
“This grant enables us to commission a study which helps deliver that balance by providing justification for the Councils’ Local Plans and supporting the priorities contained in the New Forest Management Plan.
“This is a huge task. With our six partner organisations, we are looking at a total conservation area of more than 29,000 hectares, which collectively represent one of the largest protected habitats in England. “
A joint working group of officers from the partner organisations was set up in 2016 specifically focussing on strategic mitigation for the New Forest in order to help progress the individual Local Plans and housing delivery. This new study will complement this work and enable a longer term strategic mitigation framework to be prepared.
Specifically, the funding will be used to gauge the following
1 International designation in relation to the presence of certain bird species.
2 New Forest Visitor Survey (2005) and Changing patterns of visitor numbers within the New Forest National Park, with particular reference to the New Forest Special Protection Area (2008).