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Warning that changes to planning could risk jobs
3:00pm Friday 1st March 2013 in New Forest
NATIONAL Park chiefs are warning that controversial changes to the planning system could cost jobs in the New Forest.
The National Park Authority (NPA) is calling for the area to be exempt from proposed new rules that would allow offices to be turned into homes without the need for planning permission.
However, the changes have been welcomed by Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
Members say the new system could actually create jobs by enabling farmers and landowners to find new uses for redundant agricultural buildings.
The Government hopes the relaxation of planning rules will breathe new life into empty and under-used sites across the country.
But the NPA says high house prices in the Forest could result in a large number of offices being converted into flats or houses.
A spokesman said: “The authority believes that the reduction in office space would have an adverse impact on local business opportunities and jobs.
“It also suggests that the new homes would not be affordable housing.”
Pat Wyeth, chairman of the NPA’s planning committee, added: “The authority’s planning policies encourage affordable housing for local people and safeguard employment sites in the National Park to ensure that the New Forest remains a living, working landscape.
“We’re concerned the proposed changes would undermine this clear framework and result in the Forest progressively becoming a dormitory area.”
But the CLA has described the proposed changes to Britain’s planning system as a “great victory”.
A spokesman said: “It means that farmers and landowners can use their old agricultural buildings for new purposes without having to go through the difficult and costly planning process.
“Making use of the many redundant agricultural buildings will boost the rural economy by assisting in the creation of both new jobs and new businesses.”
The new system is due to come into force later this year in areas where exemptions have not been granted.