Plan puts landscape first
The South Downs National Park has issued its first Local Plan, which takes a proactive approach to promoting landscape, ecosystem services and green infrastructure, writes Ian Phillips. The plan’s Preferred Options stage was published on 2 September for public consultation until 28 October.
The Local Plan for the South Downs National Park – which covers large parts of Hampshire, East and West Sussex – takes the radical approach of putting landscapes first while still serving the needs of communities and the local economy. The National Park Authority has now published its preferred options for these policies and is asking people – individuals and organisations – to give their feedback.
When the plan is adopted (expected to be in 2017) it will be the first time that a single set of planning policies have been applied across the 1,600km2 area of the UK’s newest National Park. The aim is to set high standards that all development proposed for the National Park must meet to ensure that nature is protected and valued both for its own sake and for the things it gives us – like clean water, food and space to breath.
In pursuing these principles, the plan emphasises the importance of ecosystem services and the key role of green infrastructure in contributing to the delivery of these. This approach aims to help in delivering the park’s statutory purposes by safeguarding and enhancing its special qualities and benefiting the many people and businesses who live, work or play within it. The park has the highest population of all the British national parks, at 112,000 people, and 2 million people live within five miles.
The Park Authority is currently developing a cross-cutting GI framework to support the plan’s GI policy. Recognising the importance of working at a landscape scale, this aims to encourage and include contributions from a wide range of partners with interests both within and beyond the Park’s boundaries.
The Plan document and facilities to respond to the consultation can be accessed here.
Ian Phillips is a landscape architect and planner. He is Vice President of the LI and a member of South Downs National Park Authority.