Parish Plan

gatehouseBeaulieu Parish, located in the south-east corner of the New Forest National Park, is an unspoilt area at the head of the tidal reaches of the Beaulieu River. Beaulieu village, itself, has changed little over the years: the village centre has remained compact and there has been little outlying development in recent times. There are approximately 345 properties in the Parish, the majority of which are privately owned.

Most people who responded to the Beaulieu Parish Plan questionnaires expressed their satisfaction at living in an attractive area close to the river, with delightful surrounding countryside, and with all the advantages which it offers. 72% of the respondents have lived in the area for over 20 years, although only 16% were born within the Parish.

Traffic and tourism have increased vastly with the proliferation of motor vehicles, causing both problems for and benefits to the local community. Cars are needed by visitors to reach the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu village and the surrounding countryside, whilst residents need cars to gain access to nearby towns and villages. Many lorries of ever increasing size negotiate the narrow lanes; some of these same lorries are driven up the village High Street to satisfy the requirements of local businesses, whilst others are just passing through.

Developing the plan

Work was started on the Beaulieu Parish Plan in response to a government initiative to encourage local communities, through their parish councils, to help form and make decisions for their future. Following a parish council meeting open to the public, volunteers from Beaulieu residents, including two parish councillors, were invited to form a committee to investigate what people like about Beaulieu and what could be improved and, using this information, what considerations should guide the Parish in planning for the future.

The committee hand-delivered a short preliminary questionnaire to every household, asking parishioners what they liked and disliked about living in the Parish and what changes they wanted. Meetings were held with many sections of the Beaulieu community, as well as with specific groups, e.g. farmers, local businesses and organisations, to canvas their views. Separate questionnaires were given to primary schoolchildren aged 8 or older and all teenagers aged 11-18 who lived in the Parish.

Based on the answers to the preliminary questionnaire, and points made at the meetings, the main Beaulieu Parish Plan questionnaire was developed and a copy delivered by hand to every household in the Parish. A shorter questionnaire was sent to various interest groups in Beaulieu, including clubs and businesses. Both questionnaires were posted on the Parish website; it was possible to complete them and return the answers electronically. The village fete provided an opportunity to publicise the Plan and an "open morning" was held in the village hall to give parishioners the opportunity to come and ask questions and to discuss the main questionnaire.

The answers to these questionnaires, which have been posted on the website, form the basis of this Beaulieu Parish Plan. From these answers, and from comments received, it has been possible to assess what could be improved within the Parish of Beaulieu to make living in this area more enjoyable.

The Beaulieu Estate

MarinaThe Beaulieu Estate, which is jointly owned by Lord Montagu and his elder son, Ralph, comprises approximately 7000 acres, and includes both the bed of the Beaulieu River and an area of the foreshore to the Solent. As principal landowner and main business operator within the Parish, the Estate looks for opportunities to influence or to manage events in the interest of enhancing and conserving the environment and the built heritage as well as sustaining the community and local economy.

The Estate has been an entity since King John granted lands at Bellus Locus to the Cistercian monks who founded Beaulieu Abbey in 1204. The river, farmland and woodlands were the natural resources which, combined with good husbandry, sustained the abbey and its community for over three centuries. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, including Beaulieu Abbey, in 1538, the Estate was sold to Thomas Wriothesley, an ancestor of Lord Montagu. Although the abbey is now an ancient monument, it remains not only the historic centre of Beaulieu but also its spiritual centre. The parish church occupies the former monks' refectory, while the abbey ruins lie within the National Motor Museum visitor area.

The overriding aim of the Montagu family is to run the Estate as an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable entity.

The Beaulieu Estate is best known for its visitor attractions: the National Motor Museum, a registered charity, Beaulieu Abbey Ruins, Palace House and Gardens, and the 18th century shipbuilding village of Buckler's Hard. However, the principal land use is agriculture (3,200 acres) and forestry (2,000 acres). The Estate owns and manages 126 dwellings, including farm houses and 57 commercial properties.

The Estate, and its operating company Beaulieu Enterprises Limited, employs approximately 150 people throughout the year, increasing to some 250 in the summer. Whilst some of the staff live within the parish, the majority travel between 5 and 10 miles to work by car. Taken together, the visitor sites at Beaulieu and Buckler's Hard receive about 400,000 visitors a year; this figure is about half the peak figure experienced in the 1970s; traffic surveys indicate that car movements to and from the National Motor Museum account for less than 10% of the total passing through Beaulieu village

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Today a diverse range of activities takes place on the Estate: farming, forestry, leisure, tourism, environmental education, field sports, and the operation of local businesses and services. The Estate is also part of an active community. Ensuring the future financial viability of the Estate will depend on there being sufficient flexibility in the planning system to provide for changes of use, the building of new structures to support appropriate activities and landscape works designed to protect land and buildings from erosion.

Agriculture

At present there are three large farms and six smaller holdings leased from the Beaulieu Estate, as well as other Estate tenants with grazing agreements. There is also Norman Court and Sowley Farms Ltd. holding. The main acreages on the Beaulieu Estate comprise the 3 large farms:-

  • Rolf Park Farm, run by Arthur Rolf and his son, with a total of 990 acres over three holdings, Park and Bergerie Farms, Clobb Farm and Salternshill Farm. The main enterprise is a dairy herd together with some beef cattle; some arable crops are also grown. At present six local people are employed and a further three travel from Southampton Waterside.
  • Boyd Farming, run by John Boyd, with a total of 797 acres over four holdings, Newhouse Farm, Beufre Farm, Lodge Farm and Penerley Farm. These are mainly arable, producing soft fruit. About 400 people are employed, mostly Eastern Europeans, for 9-10 months a year; they are housed in static caravans on the farms and have little impact on Beaulieu village. Once a week coaches take them to Tesco to shop. In addition there are 25 full time staff of whom 10 are British, some living locally.
  • 3D Farming Partnership, run by the Dolbear family with 457 acres spread over three farms, Hazelcopse, Leygreen and Swinesleys, which have been amalgamated into one holding. They grow sunflowers, maize, asparagus, and some grain and sub-let land for grazing. The only people they employ are East European part time asparagus pickers. agriculure1agriculture2 agriculture3agriculture4 The six smaller holdings which are mainly under grazing and used for raising livestock occupy some 574 acres. The land subject to grazing agreements covers a further 383 acres.
agriculture1 agriculture2
agriculture3 agriculture4

The Norman Court and Sowley Farms Ltd. holding is one of three properties farmed by this company, comprising of 1800 acres over Beck, Sowley and Thorns farms. Approximately 890 acres are arable farming, 495 acres are woodlands, some of which is managed commercially; 44 acres are managed pond, with the remainder pasture, composting, buildings etc.

Only two of the farmers with larger holdings have tenancies with succession rights enabling them to pass their farms on to their children or immediate members of the family. The farmers feel that local people have a romantic, unrealistic view of farming, not realising that some farms rely on collections and deliveries by articulated vehicles to stay in business and that some of their activities may occasionally create unattractive smells and noise.

Abbey Church

churchThe Church of the Blessed Virgin and Child at Beaulieu is the main church in the Parish. It is part of a combined benefice that includes St Mary's Chapel at Buckler's Hard as well as the Church of St Paul, East Boldre, and the Church of St Katharine, Exbury. The last two serve communities outside the Parish. The Abbey Church was the refectory of Beaulieu Abbey and was built in the early 13th century. The prominent stone pulpit was originally used for reading religious works church2to the monks during meals. The church has been subject to renovation over the years, the last being in 2005-2007 when the cost of repairs and refurbishment (mainly to the roof), together with new lighting and audio systems, amounted to over £300,000. The money was raised by the community, including generous donations from non-church goers. Music at Beaulieu, a charitable trust, arranges some 12 concerts in the Abbey Church each year and, as well as making a valuable award annually to a musician from the New Forest, has contributed considerable sums to the church and community since the first of its concerts in the early 1970s.

The Abbey Church in Beaulieu serves both those who live in the village and those who make Beaulieu their spiritual home, as well as reaching out into the wider community. According to the church electoral role, about 35% of members are from the village and 65% come from further afield. The adult choir is large for a village, with over 25 members. The church is a popular venue for weddings. The chapel at Buckler's Hard is in a cottage next to the Master Builder's House Hotel. church2The room was originally a dame school but was used for services in the 1880s, later being refurbished as a chapel. It has a special link with the sea (some of Nelson's ships were built at Buckler's Hard) and there is a memorial to Sir Francis Chichester who set out from here on his solo circumnavigation of the world. This beautiful chapel, with its magnificent altar cloth designed by Belinda Lady Montagu, is open to visitors

Beaulieu Primary School

Beaulieu Village Primary School was originally opened on its present site in the centre of the village in the 1860s. A programme of renewals was begun in the early 1990s and was completed in 2006. This has resulted in the replacement of sub-standard and temporary buildings by a library, a music and drama studio, and, outside, areas for performances and infant learning.

The school is an integral part of the Beaulieu community and is leased from the Beaulieu Estate by Hampshire County Council. It has 106 pupils on the roll between the ages of 4-11 years. The school has always served children from the Parish and indeed at least one child is a 5th generation pupil. However, it now accepts increasing numbers from further afield: only 25% of the present children are from within the catchment area. The school provides a nurturing family environment, with demand exceeding available places.

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