New Forest National Park Planning

Who owns the New Forest National Park?

About 90% of the New Forest is owned by the Crown and about 50% of this falls within the New Forest National Park. Much of this has been managed by Forestry England since 1923. Other parts of the Park are managed by the National Trust, the Parish councils, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and private landowners.


Not quite the smallest National Park

The New Forest has been a National Park since 2015 and is one of only 15 throughout the UK. The New Forest National Park is the second smallest National Park, yet has one of the largest areas of unenclosed pasture land and forest in England with animals roaming free – pertaining a very wild atmosphere and one which is very unique.

Why are National Parks important?

National Parks are special parts of our landscape and as such deserve special protection. They are important areas of natural biodiversity and part of our cultural heritage; protecting them means we can enjoy the natural world as it is meant to be, without human interference. There are lots of rare plants and wildlife species to be found and many tree preservation orders in place as well as Conservation Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The New Forest is an enormous magnet for visitors and holidaymakers, becoming a National Park (run by the National Park Authority) aided tourism, from which the income generated from the activities within, very much helps towards keeping the National Park protected and safe.

Where is the New Forest National Park planning boundary?

You can see the full National Park boundary map Here


What is the New Forest National Park planning policy?

New forest national park authority

The New Forest is split into two sections, the New Forest National Parks Authority and the New Forest District Council. The New Forest National Parks Authority considers applications within the National Park and has slightly more confined policies than the District Council. Both areas have specific planning policies which need consideration prior to creating planning applications.

Permitted Development

Permitted Development is curtailed within National Parks in a similar way that it is within Conservation Areas. Some extensions and alterations are possible without planning permission but these need to be checked carefully prior to submission of a Certificate of Lawfulness application. Extensions and alterations falling outside of permitted development and new dwellings require planning permission. The use of permitted development can be a useful tool to establish greater development than that which may be restricted by local planning policy, to help clients gain better forms of development.


The Parks Authority and the District Council has a keen eye on sustainability (like they should) and improving the wellbeing of the built environment. New planning applications are welcomed which show a commitment to high quality, sustainable design incorporating green technologies. Showing a Net Zero carbon output design is very much a step in the right direction for gaining planning.

Architectural Design

The New Forest National Park Authority has a desire to see improvement over many of the existing dwellings architectural design throughout the Park yet still in keeping with the verdant surroundings. So much so, they have a yearly design award. Modern and traditional designs can succeed in this aspect but planning strategy is key. The New Forest has very experienced Planning Officers and as such, any plan of action must be well considered and not rushed through. Early consideration of the project is key to success.

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How can I get planning permission in the New Forest National Park?

The key with any planning application in the New Forest is to work with the right team of architects and planning consultants, who are experienced in this type of work and can think outside the box. Whilst policies are here to protect this special setting, thinking that bit more creatively can comply with policy whilst achieving more. Contrary to belief not all development is harmful , some can show environmentally sustainable and aesthetic enhancements.

Do your homework

Use a team who understands and has an experience of both the National Park Authority and District Council’s wants and needs. This will help focus your proposal so that you don’t waste time and have a better chance of success. In principle they will be looking for:

  • High quality design
  • Sustainable design
  • Ecological enhancement
  • Biodiversity Net Gain

Think outside the box

Set within the New Forest National Park, our Mole End project was a dated 1960s bungalow in great need of refurbishment and enlargement to create better space for the family.

The decision to replace the bungalow at an early stage came about through consideration of the level of works required to bring the property to a good standard of accommodation verses the benefits of a fabric first construction method. It was established that replacement of the bungalow would bring forwards greater environmental and aesthetic benefits.

As with all projects that are surrounded by trees, root protection zones need to be understood. To ensure the protection of the trees and part of the sustainable low carbon approach, it was decided to design with the reuse of the concrete slab the existing house rested on and make as much use of existing drainage.

Design is a challenge, and restraints force creative thinking. Especially so since Mole End is not only in the National Park, but within a highly prized Conservation Area and adjacent to a SSSI. We decided to go bold by suggesting a replacement dwelling which would use very different materials to that which surrounded the property, but sat respectfully within the plot. The Councils Conservation and Design Officer highly praised the design.

Detailed Design

We found that re-use of the existing and protective slab, and repositioning the house both sideways and forward allowed us to form a new landscaped front access and an entrance located centrally rather than on the side. This created a new vaulted central living space with superior views and increased solar gain. These alterations fully work the design to the best of the site’s attributes.

Sustainable Build

The build for the new Mole End uses SIPs (structurally insulated panels) for its lightweight construction on the existing slab, using 35% less timber than traditional construction. The home is heated through air source heat pump technology (replacing the existing oil system), powered with carefully located PVs to maximise return, and re-using the existing slate tiles. The whole design is driven through sustainable consideration and sensitivity.

Design fit for a forest setting

The material choices externally are sensitive to the protected setting, featuring Corten Steel, which is also used on National Trust buildings for its autumnal assimilation within tree-scapes.

Our Mole End project showed that not all properties in the National Park need to be chocolate box thatched cottages, they can also be pioneers of modern design fit for a forest setting.

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About Us

We are a RIBA Chartered practice and RTPI Chartered practice, renowned for “exceptional” architectural design with an impressive success rate on planning proposals within National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Chat to us if need expert guidance on a special home project.

We have practices in Epping Forest and New Forest that are linked by AONB and National Parks in between.