New Forest Access Forum Annual Report 2022

The New Forest Access Forum:

Helping to make the New Forest more accessible for everyone

Our role in the New Forest:

Our statutory purpose, as defined by section 94 of the CROW Act, is 'to advise to the improvement of public access to land in the area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area, and as to such other matters as may be prescribed.’

We provide this advice to a variety of government departments including:
• Our appointing authorities
• Local councils
• Natural England
• Forestry England
• Historic England
• Various other Government Departments.

All these bodies are required to ‘have regard, in carrying out their functions, to any relevant advice given to them’ by a forum.

Our appointing authorities are Hampshire County Council and the New Forest National Park Authority.

Public Access to Meetings:

We have four meetings a year, two of which are at various places in the National Park and the other two are held at the New Forest National Park Authority offices at Lymington Town Hall.
All forum meetings are open to the public. Please bear in mind that only Local Access Forum members can participate in discussions.

If you wish to make a representation to the forum then please submit it in writing to two weeks before the meeting date (you will have a maximum of five minutes to speak). All representations will be at the discretion of the chair.

Public Access Briefings:

A Vision for Cycling in the New Forest

Richard Burke, Forestry England
Richard gave his outline on his vision for cycling in the New Forest, an update on progress and how the forum can help.

Event Management within the Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) Framework

Linda Devlin, Forestry England
Linda explained what the new HRA Framework seeks to accomplish and how it seeks to protect the fragile habitats of the New Forest.

Inclusive National Parks

Jim Mitchell, New Forest National Park Authority
The new National Park Partnership Plan has a focus on inclusive national parks. Jim joined us to discuss inclusivity and the forum’s role in making the New Forest more accessible.

Habitat Mitigation Scheme

David Illsley, New Forest National Park Authority
David chatted about the work of the NPA Habitat Mitigation Scheme and how he hopes to link into other mitigation schemes to off-set the recreational pressures brought by new housing on the border of the New Forest National Park.

England Coast Path Briefing

Adam Vasey, New Forest National Park Authority
Adam updated members on the role the NPA plays in establishing the England Coast Path here in the New Forest and the future timescales for the main Highcliffe to Calshot section.


The Landscapes Review

The government has completed its review of the 10 English National Parks and has issued a response to the review. The New Forest Access Forum fed into this process supporting additional funding for national parks and the aim to make national parks more inclusive and more representative of the nation’s cultural identity.

Discussion Topics:

The new Habitats Regulations Assessment Framework.

To better protect wildlife Forestry England (guided by Natural England) wish to improve event management to reduce potential damage to sensitive habitats. Organised events, with over 25 people and/or with a charged element will now require a licence.

Site Visits:

Frankenbury Hill Fort Promoted Route

We walked a short section of this new promoted walking route, saw the physical improvements and looked at the NPA walking app which provides digital signage.

The England Coast Path

Forum members walked from Calshot Activity Centre up the path to the swing bridge and back looking at the new interpretation and signage designs.

A word from the Chair Ruth Croker:

It has been good to resume face-to-face meetings following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and to make two site visits following a formal meeting.

In Godshill we followed one of the National Park walking routes and on a visit to Calshot we walked a short section of the England Coast Path looking at the new signage specific to the route within the New Forest.