In December of last year you ran an article under the heading 'Commoner home on hold after 'rule bending' claim'. This reported on a petition I presented to the 18 December meeting of the Park Authority's Planning Committee, as a result of an application in Brockishill Road. One of the points I made was that the Authority was bringing the Commoners Dwelling Scheme into disrepute by not following the eligibility criteria set out in Core Policy 11. On 21 January I received a response to many of the points in my petition, but not on the issue that any applicant must be 'someone who lives, or works in, or who has strong connections with the settlement or parish in which the scheme is proposed'.
The requirement for a local connection was very explicit in the preceding legislation, the New Forest Council Local Plan (2005), and is equally explicit in the current Core Policy 11. This states that 'proposals for exception sites should meet a local need that cannot be accommodated in any other way' and that applications should 'meet the identified needs of local people'.
I support commoning in the Forest and I support an appropriate scheme that would focus help with affordable housing on the least wealthy commoners, but any scheme which allows one of a very small group to build on unspoilt agricultural land, where everyone else would be refused permission, must abide by the eligibility criteria explicit in the Authority's Core Policy. The failure of the Authority to enforce this or to even respond to my repeated interventions on this specific issue should be a concern to all your readers. Once the rule of law is undermined by people in authority, we are all likely to suffer long term.
John de Trafford
Brockishill Road Residents Association (BRRA)