Hampshire County Council Scrutiny Review: Prioritisation of a
A response from the New Forest National Park Authority
1.1 This paper sets out the New Forest National Park Authority‟s response
to the Issues and Questions paper circulated by Cllr Peter Hutcheson
as part of Hampshire County Council‟s Scrutiny Review of the Case for
a Bypass for Lyndhurst. It responds to the specific questions raised,
recognising that in some areas it will be for the Scrutiny Review itself to
draw together the evidence base e.g. on traffic volumes and trends,
frequency of congestion, the relative scale of the problem and so on.
This paper is a contribution to the Scrutiny Review based on the
information available at the present time, it is not a formal Authority
position on a Lyndhurst By-pass.
1.2 The National Park Authority is responsible for ensuring the
achievement of the two purposes of National Park designation, laid
down in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949):
to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural
heritage of the Park; and
to promote the understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities
to the public;
and in pursuance of those purposes it has a duty to :
foster the social and economic well being of communities within the
1.3 National park status is the highest level of countryside designation and
is intended to ensure the strongest permanent protection for the future
from increasing development pressures for housing and transport.
1.4 The National Park Authority is the local planning authority for the
National Park which includes the village of Lyndhurst.
2. Question 1 : What are the current traffic problems and highway
issues in Lyndhurst?
2.1 The current traffic-related issues in Lyndhurst appear mainly to centre
on congestion and air quality.
2.2 At certain times of the day and year the highway network in and around
the village cannot cope effectively with the volume of traffic using it,
leading to a build up of static or slow moving traffic on the approach
roads and in the village. This is most apparent during the summer
months when it is assumed that an increased number of visitors to the
New Forest put additional pressure on the Lyndhurst highway network.
2.3 The traffic lights at the junction of the A35 and A337 combined with the
volume, cause vehicles to queue back from this junction along the
A337 towards Cadnam, the A35 and Shrubbs Hill Road.
2.4 In an attempt to avoid queuing on the approaches to Lyndhurst village
centre, a network of alternative routes has become established and is
well used by motorists who know of them. These alternative routes are
often narrow with poor visibility, and are inappropriate for the volume of
traffic attempting to circumvent the queues.
2.5 Air quality issues caused by congestion in Lyndhurst led to the High
Street area being declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2005.
An Air Quality Management Plan is being prepared by New Forest
District Council which will set out a range of options for improving air
quality in the Area.
2.6 Lyndhurst, and in particular it‟s High Street and village centre, is a
popular visitor destination in it‟s own right, and home to the main Visitor
Information Centre in the National Park. Enjoyment of Lyndhurst‟s
special qualities is often undermined by the queuing or slow moving
traffic and associated noise and air pollution.
2.7 Congestion in Lyndhurst also causes intermittent problems for public
transport operators. A lack of bus priority provision can result in the
Lymington – Southampton service number 56 queuing on the
approaches to the village centre, resulting in failure to adhere to
published timetables thus potentially damaging public confidence in the
network. Furthermore Lyndhurst is not served by the rail network.
2.8 Being located in the heart of the New Forest, it is often assumed that
Lyndhurst has good direct access to the traffic free cycle network in the
New Forest. A cycle hire centre is located in the main village centre car
park but customers have no choice but to use part of the main highway
network in order to access the traffic free routes in the Forest.
2.9 The South East and South West Regional Spatial Strategies set out
proposals to build some 110,000 new dwellings in Hampshire and
South East Dorset up to 2026. It is possible that trip generation arising
from these additional houses could add to traffic volumes in Lyndhurst,
and the New Forest highway network as a whole, unless appropriate
mitigation is taken. This additional trip generation might be in the form
of „cross park‟ commuting traffic or recreation trips.
3. Question 2 : What are the possible solutions to these problems?
3.1 Possible solutions to the problems are listed below. None of the
options have been subject to any technical or environmental
assessment nor formally considered by the National Park Authority and
are listed solely to contribute to the evidence gathering and this
Improvements to the operating efficiency and geometry of the
Intelligent routeing i.e. making motorists aware of alternative
routes which avoid Lyndhurst, before they reach the congested
Better enforcement of existing weight restrictions.
Additional weight restrictions, such as a blanket National Park
restriction (with access exemptions).
Park and ride, both for Lyndhurst and for the New Forest.
Improvements to public transport.
Implementation of measures contained in the Lyndhurst Air
Quality Management Plan.
Re-modelling the Lyndhurst highway network, such as:
- utilising both lanes of Shrubbs Hill Road for westbound
- making Gosport Lane two ways, thus avoiding the volume
of traffic using the High Street.
- Removing the traffic lights at the A35/A337 junction and
making the A337 between Lyndhurst to Cadnam one way
Selected road closures.
Demand management measures aimed at making Lyndhurst
less appealing for non-essential traffic, such as:
- reintroduction of stock animal grazing to Lyndhurst
village, together with associated speed reduction
measures which would encourage „cross park‟
commuters to use the alternative trunk road network
- road user charging.
4. Question 3 : Of the range of possible solutions, would a bypass
be a viable and deliverable option?
4.1 In the absence of any specific detailed bypass proposal, and the
accompanying appropriate assessment, the Authority cannot form a
view on whether a bypass would be a viable and deliverable option. It
would however wish to draw to the Council‟s attention the range of
issues which would need to be fully addressed in the decision making
process which are set out below.
4.2 Any option would need to be assessed for its environmental impact in
relation to local, national and international environmental law, planning
policy and the National Park‟s special qualities. In addition to being
within the New Forest National Park, Lyndhurst lies within a landscape
whose habitats of high nature conservation value are heavily protected
by a wide range of designations, some of which include:
National Park – National Parks and Access to the Countryside
New Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – designated
pursuant to the European Council Habitats Directive
New Forest Special Protection Area (SPA) – classified under the
European Council Birds Directive (79/409/EEC)
New Forest Ramsar Site – the Convention of Wetlands of
New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – Wildlife
and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
Sites of Interest for Nature conservation (SINC) including
Northerwood Inclosure SINC, and Cuffnell‟s Park SINC,
classified due to the presence of ancient semi-natural woodland.
The New Forest Acts.
4.3 The landscape consequences of any proposals will have to be carefully
evaluated especially in the context of the New Forest‟s National Park
status which is the highest level of protection afforded to landscape in
the UK. The UK, as a signatory to the Landscape Convention, has a
duty and commitment to ensure it conserves its special landscapes.
Concern for the adverse impacts of road development may constitute
grounds for refusal and / or require significant mitigation measures if
the proposals are deemed to be of over-riding national interest.
In particular, the integrity of the landscape around the village, including
the landscape setting of the settlement, especially in the vicinity of
Bolton‟s Bench would need to be considered; together with visual
impacts of any new road on the specific landscape character of each
part of the village.
4.4 In summary, the development of a bypass scheme in such an
environmentally and ecologically sensitive context would need
successfully to meet the strict tests laid down in relevant legislation –
on which Natural England will also advise. The Panel will also need to
take into account the County Council‟s own statutory responsibilities for
designated sites and its duties to conserve biodiversity (i.e. Section 40
of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006) and of
course Section 62 of the Environment Act 1995 which requires it to
take into account the impact of any decision on the National Park.
Test for major development proposals in National Parks
4.5 The government has issued specific guidance for assessing major
development proposals in National Parks, which it recognises should
only occur in exceptional circumstances. This guidance is set out in
paragraph 49 of Department of Environment Circular 12/96 which
“Government planning policy towards the National Parks, as well as the
Broads and the New Forest, is that major development should not take
place in these areas save in exceptional circumstances. Because of
the serious impact that major developments may have on their natural
beauty, applications for such developments must be subject to the
most rigorous examination and should be demonstrated to be in the
public interest before being allowed to proceed. Consideration of such
applications should therefore normally include an assessment of:
the need for the development, in terms of national
considerations, and the impact of permitting it or refusing it upon
the local economy;
[ the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the
area or meeting the need for it in some other way;]
any detrimental effect on the environment and the landscape,
and the extent to which it should be moderated”.
4.6 It is also set out in paragraph 22 of Planning Policy Statement 7
(PPS7) which states that:
“major developments should not take place in these designated areas,
except in exceptional circumstances. This policy includes major
development proposals that raise issues of national significance.
Because of the serious impact that major developments may have on
these areas of natural beauty, and taking account of the recreational
opportunities that they provide, applications for all such developments
should be subject to the most rigorous examination. Major
development proposals should be demonstrated to be in the public
interest before being allowed to proceed.
Consideration of such applications should therefore include an
assessment of:” . the Statement then replicates the criteria listed at
paragraph 4.5 above.
4.7 Broadly, the advice in Circular 12/96 and PPS7 is the same, with PPS7
representing the most up to date expression of government policy on
this matter. The test for major development in National Parks
comprises two elements, both of which must be satisfied. These are
whether exceptional circumstances exist and whether the proposals
can be demonstrated to be in the public interest. In assessing whether
this is the case a number of factors should be assessed including need
in terms of national considerations, the scope for meeting the need for
the development in some other way and the extent to which any
detrimental effects on the landscape can be moderated.
4.8 This test is rightly a demanding one in view of the highest status of
protection afforded to National Parks in terms of landscape and scenic
Current transport policy
4.9 The Department for Transport (DfT) has recently published guidance to
Local Authorities which are seeking funding for major transport
4.10 This states that in taking forward road schemes it is important that it
has been clearly demonstrated that a new road is the required solution
to the transport problem, and that the full range of alternative options,
including demand management measures, have been assessed.
4.11 It also states that to qualify for major scheme funding, a scheme must:
be promoted by a Local Transport Plan Authority, i.e. Hampshire
have been prioritised by the appropriate regional bodies within
the relevant Regional Funding Allocation
be supportive of, and aligned with, the Hampshire County
Council Local Transport Plan.
be supported by a local contribution of at least 10% of the total
4.12 When referring to a Lyndhurst bypass (para 7.99), Hampshire County
Council‟s Local Transport Plan (2006-2010) states that „a scheme of
this nature will not be approached within the scope of this Plan. The
investigation of a bypass will remain part of the long term strategy for
4.13 When referring to the New Forest National Park, the Plan states (para
3.178) that “An understanding of landscape character, diversity, and
sensitivity informs transport planning decisions. This includes decisions
made at the national, regional and sub regional scale for large
4.14 As described in sections 4.5 and 4.6, it would need to be demonstrated
that the scheme was in the overriding public interest. The Government
recognises that overriding public interest could only be considered in
exceptional circumstances, however examples include:
serious risk to human health and public safety
clear and direct environmental benefit on a national or
failure to proceed would have unacceptable social and/or
The Department of Environment Circular 125/77 – roads and traffic in National
4.15 Despite its 30 year shelf life, DoE Circular 125/77 remains extant and
contains a transport-specific expression of the test for major
development proposals in National Parks. Paragraph 10 of the Circular
states that :
“where there is a compelling need for some solution to be found to the
problem of increased through traffic, or to problems of road safety in a
National Park, a determined search should be made for alternatives
which do not involve upgrading the existing route or new construction.
These latter solutions should be adopted only if reasonable alternatives
can be shown to be unavailable, and then only with all practicable
measures for mitigating the effects on the natural beauty and amenity
of the surrounding landscape, in view of its national importance”.
4.16 Thus in order for a bypass to be considered acceptable in terms of the
government policy set out in this circular, the following must be
a compelling need
a determined search for alternatives to upgrading or new
construction has been made
reasonable alternatives have been shown to be unavailable
all practicable measures for mitigation are in place.
Implications for the wider New Forest highway network
4.17 Careful consideration should be given to the implications of the bypass
on the wider New Forest highway network, and this should be modelled
at the earliest opportunity.
4.18 The delivery of a Lyndhurst by-pass may simply shift „the problem‟ to
nearby communities. For example, should traffic be able to bypass
Lyndhurst more efficiently, Brockenhurst and other neighbouring
communities may see an increase in traffic and the associated
problems of congestion and poor air quality. In Brockenhurst the
impact of the level crossing is in many ways comparable with the traffic
lights in Lyndhurst.
New Forest National Park Authority
11 October 2007