Posted by: dorsetcpre | November 22, 2017

CPRE welcomes new CEO and Edward Fox to 80th Anniversary AGM

The Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) welcomed its new CEO, Crispin Truman, as well as Edward Fox, its President, to its 80th Anniversary Annual General Meeting last week. The actor read some wonderful poems, including Dorset by John Betjeman , celebrating the county and its countryside to the audience of about a hundred.

Crispin, who was a well-regarded CEO of the Churches Conservation Trust before taking on his new role, spoke of the challenges facing the CPRE as it campaigns on many fronts to protect the countryside, particularly the need to protect Green Belts and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from inappropriate housing developments. He wants to see “a more bottom-up community-led sensitive approach to housing from government, rather than the current adversarial top-down one”. CPRE would also encourage the government to adopt a land-use strategy for England, which currently does not exist unlike Scotland.

He stressed there will be three key themes in 2018. The first is to broaden the appeal of CPRE and present it better. Secondly, CPRE will focus on fewer but bigger campaigns, with the intention to give a more positive image and concentrate on solutions. One of these will be the drive to provide more affordable rural housing, which the government and developers have singly failed to achieve. Thirdly, it will strive to collaborate more effectively with both local county branches as well as other campaigning organisations.

Richard Nicholls, the Chairman of Dorset CPRE’s Trustees, spoke of the problems facing Dorset in particular. The countryside, Green Belts and AONBs are under threat from development while little provision was being made for infrastructure, such as public transport, doctors’ surgeries and improved roads. There was far too little affordable housing. He said ”there should be the right housing in the right places, for the right people in particular young people”.  He was also very concerned over the loss of subsidies to farmers, resulting from Brexit, with the threat of the industrialisation of farming and the adverse impact on the countryside.

In essence Dorset CPRE stands for the same things now as when the branch was opened in 1937 – to retain a beautiful, diverse countryside for the benefit of everyone, wherever they live.  Dorset has a countryside that can give us the big views, open skies and tranquillity we all require, and also a vibrant, productive countryside which provides good livelihoods and the natural products we will need, like food and fresh water. A great deal has been lost, but Dorset still has a glorious countryside which needs CPRE’s care and protection.

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