As I write this from my home office in the New Forest, I’m looking out on a picture-perfect postcard of autumn, with ponies grazing and squirrels gathering nuts in the oaks surrounding my home. Through the pandemic, the housing market has seen an exodus of people moving out of the cities, looking for their very own place in the country – with fresh air, cosy nights by the wood-burner and maybe even a chicken or
two scratching in the flower bed. The attractions of such a lifestyle swap are plain to see, but there are quite a few legal considerations to contemplate before making the jump.
Water, water (not) everywhere
Private water supplies regularly crop up with rural properties. Not every property is on mains water and very commonly rural properties are served by a private water pipe. It’s important to check where the water source comes from, how water is billed and who has the responsibility for the cost of repair of the water pipe, and, ultimately, does the property have an easement for water? Often, private water goes hand in hand with not being connected to mains drainage, which Rebecca Langmead discusses more of in her article on page 8.
A slither of verge
People are often shocked to learn there may be no legal access to their property in the New Forest, as they have to drive across a slither of verge, which is actually Crown Estate-owned land. A licence from Forestry England may be required, and Moore Barlow can help ensure all the necessary licences are in place before exchange of contracts – which can save you thousands.
Snouts in the soil
You may wish to enjoy the wonderful view from the front room, but will you want a herd of cattle treading over your newly laid lawn? In the New Forest it’s the home-owner’s responsibility to stock-proof-fence out the animals, otherwise during pannage season – when pigs are released to eat up all the acorns – for example, you might find a dozen of them digging up the garden.
Right of neigh
You’re bound to see various de-pastured animals grazing alongside the New Forest’s roads, and you must pass them wide and slow. Uniquely in the New Forest, animals have the right of way, meaning the liability will lie with you and not the owner of the animal if you hit a cow, pony, donkey or pig. All animal accidents need to be reported immediately to the New Forest Verderers office.
Lots of people want to work from home, now, and they must ensure their new property has adequate broadband width. Many places in the New Forest don’t even have a mobile phone signal, which could leave you feeling rather isolated. As part of our pre-contract enquiries, Moore Barlow can check the current broadband speeds for the property. Some things you can’t change. If you’re planning any changes or an
extension to the property, Permitted Development rights are more restricted within the National Park, and recent changes to the householder permitted development rights don’t apply in the Park. Neither are you free to convert a redundant farm building in the park to residential accommodation, which is possible in other parts of the country. We can check on the planning history of the property and ensure all relevant planning permissions are in place.
Living in the New Forest National Park is understandably appealing, with its breath-taking landscapes and natural beauty. Before embarking on your big move, let Moore Barlow advise you on the New Forest Byelaws, which serve to protect the Forest’s fragile ecological habitats. For example, cycling is only permitted on cycle routes, and you’re not allowed to ride off of these. On refuse collection days, all rubbish should be left within the perimeter of your home, otherwise you might see last night’s remains of your takeaway being ruthlessly spread outside your gate by donkeys!
Finally, you may discover that your new property has rights of pasture. Let Moore Barlow’s Rural Property team explain the nuances of buying property in the New Forest National Park.