In May this year, the New Milton and Lymington Times published an article about NFDC plans for the future of towns like Ringwood.
"FLAGGING shops in New Forest town centres could be turned into homes, a district council report has revealed.
It said space also needs to be found for 800 more new properties outside the national park, as well as measures in response to issues such as climate change and affordable housing.
The ideas were part of the draft follow-up to New Forest District Council's Local Plan, the first part of which sets out how land outside of the national park will be developed until 2036."
The picture attached to this article featured Ringwood's town centre.
Comment: Research carried out for the Ringwood Neighbourhood Plan shows resilience and general optimism amongst both shopkeepers and residents about the future of the town centre, dampened only by concerns about the closure of West Street, the reversal of traffic flow in Meeting House Lane and the impending roadworks in Mansfield Road., factors imposed on the town. There is no lack in the energy or determination of the people of Ringwood to succeed; and there is no evidence to support the NFDC contention that shops in the town centre must or should be handed over for residential use, a change of use that would take the heart out of the town..
According to the Government's Localism Act, the residents of a town must have a powerful say in the future of their towns. Town Councils should know from the start any plans being developed by District Councils; and it is the duty of Town Councils to take into account and represent the views of the town's residents as plans for the town are developed.
This is a new approach to planning by the Government and clearly it will take all those involved time to adjust. I suggest that time is now.