AN update on plans to create a Dorset National Park was given at this week’s meeting of Lyme Regis Town Council.
Campaigners Dr Paul Kelly and Richard and Sandra Brown attended the meeting to outline their plans and what the establishment of a National Park would mean for Dorset.
Councillors were told that Dorset was listed as a potential National Park when the initiative was first introduced in the 1940s but it had since been left behind.
Mrs Brown outlined that creating a National Park would help to conserve and enhance Dorset’s outstanding landscape and heritage, boost the economy and attract new funding from central government, make Dorset a global brand and destination, help farmers and land managers to access funding and support, and work with communities for appropriate development, including affordable housing.
However, councillors had some queries about what powers the National Park would have and how it would work alongside the new unitary Dorset Council, which will come into force in May.
In particular, members were interested to learn that the National Park would take over as the planning authority and it would not be controlled by national housing policies, but would instead work with the community for appropriate development.
Mrs Brown said that the National Park would also be responsible for matters relating to heritage, environment and recreation, with the new Dorset Council still responsible for essential services such as education and social care.
Councillor Brian Larcombe expressed concerns that this would leave the unitary authority to pick up the “heavy bills” while the National Park took on the more attractive services.
Mrs Brown explained that 50 per cent of the National Park authority would be made up of members of the new Dorset Council, 25 per cent would be from town and parish councils and 25 per cent would be residents who put themselves forward and would be selected by the Secretary of State. She said this would give town and parish councils more say on matters such as planning.
However, the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, expressed that not all town and parish councils in Dorset would be represented.
Campaigners are now waiting for the recommendations of the government’s Glover Review on National Parks, which are expected in October.
For more details on the campaign for a Dorset National Park, visit www.dorsetnationalpark.com