Planning Minister Nick Boles visits the National Motor Museum.

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A GOVERNMENT minister visited the New Forest to gauge the health of the area’s economy. Planning minister Nick Boles (centre of photo) learned about the state of business in the area and the role of National Park planning.

During a visit to Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum, he heard about successful businesses such as Limewood Hotel and the New Forest tour open top bus.

He viewed buildings which had been converted into offices, including Beaulieu’s Old Fire Station, and several new developments, The Forest has 2,330 businesses, generating up to £1bn in gross value added in 2012.

The area sees 1,000 planning applications a year, 80 per cent of which are approved. Visits by tourists to the National Park area generated £201m in the National Park in 2011.

Mr Boles was also briefed on work to secure broadband for Forest communities.

Mr Boles said: “I was delighted to visit the New Forest and see the work the National Park is doing to protect this part of the country in a way that allows communities to thrive.

“They are showing how it’s possible to support businesses that will provide much needed jobs in a way that safeguards the magical landscape of the New Forest.”

New Forest National Park Authority chairman Julian Johnson said: “We were delighted to be able to show the minister so many examples of how we are protecting the landscape, while at the same time supporting businesses and the economy.

“Now we look forward to working with the minister and colleagues in government to tackle the challenge of achieving well-designed affordable housing for local needs.”

Christopher Macgowan
@chrismacgowan

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