The Upper Marshwood Vale Parish is designated as being in an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (AONB). As a result, there are strict planning guidelines as to what can be built and where. There is, within these planning guidelines, a recommendation that any development should be sustainable, defined by the planning system as having:
an economic role – contributing to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure;
a social role – supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing the supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations; and by creating a high quality built environment, with accessible local services that reflect the community’s needs and support its health, social and cultural well-being;
an environmental role – contributing to protecting and enhancing our natural, built and historic environment; and, as part of this, helping to improve biodiversity, use natural resources prudently, minimize waste and pollution, and mitigate and adapt to climate change including moving to a low-carbon economy.
The interpretation of these guidelines is up to the AONB officers in the County and District Councils. As our parish has little or no public transport and families realise that they have to have a car, or rely on neighbours, it is unreasonable to use the lack of public transport or access to local facilities as a reason to disallow development (see social role above). Country dwellers realise that they have to have a car for access to facilities; otherwise they would have chosen to live in the towns.
The land in the Marshwood Vale is primarily agricultural and a valuable source of food and employment for local people. Diversification of the farms, to support tourism and small-scale artisan businesses, is essential for their long-term survival.