CONSULTATION on a document to shape the way Ringwood is developed ends on Monday.

New Forest District Council’s Local Distinctiveness Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) has been created to give guidance to householders, businesses, landowners and developers on development in the town.

The 11-chapter document covers nine areas of Ringwood and describes in detail the history and character of each suburb.

At a special meeting for all members of Ringwood Town Council, several councillors said that the money used to produce the document could have been “better utilised elsewhere”.

However, most councillors agreed that the document gave a positive platform for future development, although they recommended some changes.

A draft statement said: “The document is comprehensive and includes a lot of detailed information, particularly on the history of the town.

“However, it appears to be a single person’s viewpoint and much of the content is subjective. Reference should be made to the fact that the town has a near complete collection of religious buildings and specifically to the Catholic Church in the Close, which is a particularly distinctive building.”

Councillors also pointed out several mistakes in the document, including the incorrect inclusion of a road that doesn’t exist in Ringwood, namely Mulberry Lane and that Headlands Business Park does not fall within the Ringwood boundary.

Ringwood Town Council deputy clerk Jo Stannard said: “Most members felt the document was too subjective and flowery. Many members felt that the document and its procedures have been a poor use of resources, given the economic climate.

“We have recommended changes to the document and hope that they are included in any amendments. Most councillors thought the document was fine.”

Ringwood Society member Jeff Wickens said: “We think generally speaking, this is a particularly good document and it gives the district and town council a basis for reference when talking about planning matters.”

Councillor Paul Vickers, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for planning and transportation, said: “In preparing the Ringwood Local Distinctiveness document the council has already involved the local community, but wider public consultation at this stage now gives local people a further opportunity to help influence guidance on the future design of new developments in the town.”

“We will carefully consider the views of the town council and welcome any more comments.”

An NFDC spokesman added: “By involving local people and taking account of their opinions, it is our intention to put in place formal guidance to ensure development in Ringwood is well designed and respects local character.”

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