New Forest Access Forum Annual Report 2023

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:

Hampshire County Council Access Update. Jonathan Woods, Hampshire County Council.

Jonathan introduced the new rights of way team working in the New Forest and discussed the upcoming Countryside Access Plan.  

Health & Wellbeing Update. Jim Mitchell, New Forest National Park Authority

Jim informed members about the green prescriptions service offered by some NHS trusts and other work the NPA is doing on Health & Wellbeing.

Habitat Mitigation Scheme. Tony Spence, New Forest National Park Authority

Tony updated members on the outputs of the Habitat Mitigation Scheme and gave a short briefing on the upcoming Local Plan update.

New Promoted Walking Leaflets. Adam Vasey, New Forest National Park Authority

Adam showcased the new promoted walking leaflets funded by the DEFRA Access For All programme.


Hampshire Countryside Access Plan. Abby Sulivan and Jonathan Woods

Abby Sulivan began her presentation by advising the forum that the document which had been sent was based on the review of HCC outputs to the current Countryside Access Plan (2015-2025) and that they were now looking at producing the next plan for the 2025 to 2035 period and would like to ascertain members thoughts.

Forum members then went on to discuss their thoughts on the current and future CAP. It was agreed that members would look at the CAP in more detail and forward any comments back to Adam Vasey.

Some suggestions during the meeting included standardised bridges to ensure accessibility, sections on the two National Parks in Hampshire, a yearly update with a possible working document and further information on neurodiversity.

Discussion Topics:

Dilton Farm Discussion. NFAF Members

The public bridleways around Dilton Farm are in a very poor state from the recent heavy down pours. Members discussed what the plan is to restore these paths to a useable condition.

Site Visits:

The Lyndhurst Walking Route. NFAF Members

Members were invited to use the walking leaflets and the New Forest Walks App to do a short walk round Lyndhurst.