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|Annual Report 2006-7|
what we do
by Christopher Napier, Chairman CPRE Hampshire
Our branch planning work this last year has been largely defined by the progress of the South East Plan. This Plan will set out how Hampshire is to develop over the next 20 years, and so will define the further pressures that our countryside will face over the same period. In the spring of 2006 the Draft Plan was submitted by the South East Regional Assembly to the Secretary of State, and there followed a formal consultation to which CPRE Hampshire responded through CPRE South East. Then, in the autumn, the Examination-in-Public (EiP) started. This is a process in which a Panel appointed by the Secretary of State tests the "soundness" of the Plan, but which at the same provides opportunity to make arguments in response to specific questions posed by the Panel.
Participation at any session of the EiP is by invitation only, and CPRE (including CPRE South East, CPRE Western Corridor Sub-group, CPRE Hampshire and other CPRE branches in the South East Region) received an invitation to a large number of the sessions, which was a credit to the quality of their written responses. Volunteers from CPRE Hampshire participated, or were present in a supporting capacity, for several of the sessions and especially those that related to Hampshire.
Some two years ago, CPRE South-East set up a sub-group to enable a coordinated response from five County Branches affected by proposals for the proposed Western Corridor sub-region. Our representatives helped ensure a boundary re-alignment that removed 20 Hampshire villages before publication of the Draft South East Plan. Invited to participate at the EiP, Hampshire members of the sub-group contributed on a number of sub-regional issues, including how best to balance development proposals for north-east Hampshire and adjacent counties with the protection of heathland nesting sites for rare bird species under an EU directive.
Approaching the EiP, it was clear to us that amenity and environmental organisations in South Hampshire had no clear route to participation in a Plan designed to bring about major change in South Hampshire. Through our Planning Group, we therefore set up SHUV (South Hampshire's Unheard Voices) to counter PUSH (a partnership of local authorities), which now has more than 20 organisations as members. Written representations were made by SHUV on the South East Plan, and the quality of these led to SHUV being invited to participate in the South Hampshire sessions of the EiP.
Participation is demanding work as statements setting out evidence in response to specific questions must be submitted in advance of the session, and participants must be fully briefed as to the views of others if they are to take an effective part in the debate. This requires considerable reading, analysis, and memorising in advance of the session. I am sure we made a good contribution, and let us hope that all our work is rewarded in the report by the Panel to the Secretary of State, due in May.
Other Planning Matters
The turn of the year saw production by Hampshire County Council (HCC) of the last Housing Monitoring Paper within the Hampshire County Structure Plan (to be replaced by the South East Plan). This showed housing completions to be exceeding target, and concluded once again that there is no need to release for building any of the reserve sites in the county. This is due to considerably more brownfield land coming forward in urban areas than expected when the Structure Plan was produced. Over the years, and with the express aim of saving the reserve sites from development, CPRE Hampshire has at every opportunity, including at Local Plan inquiries, emphasised the need to make best use of brownfield land, and has subjected urban capacity studies to detailed appraisal and criticism. So, the fact that the reserve sites will not now be built on is a source of some satisfaction and a good return on all that work.
However, nothing it seems will prevent schemes designed to put the wrong thing in the wrong place from coming forward and being vigorously promoted; and the Planning Group has been active in objecting to a number of these in the last year, including a large wind generating station in an area surrounded by AONB in the west of the Isle of Wight, laser beams with a 15 mile range in Southampton, and a large wind turbine on the skyline of the South Downs at Glyndebourne. Any of these could lead to our involvement in a public inquiry in 2007.
Development of Local Development Frameworks (to replace Local Plans) is in progress across the County, and we have been actively involved in these through our District Groups. Our Minerals and Waste Adviser has also been seeking to influence the emerging Hampshire Minerals and Waste Development Framework. Successful visits were made by members to a Materials Recovery Facility and an Energy Recovery Facility.
To show our support for local foods and our Hampshire farmers, we continued to sponsor and judge the Best Food Producer of the Year category in the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards. We also helped Liss Parish Council to draw up for the village a Local Community Landscape Statement - one of the first in the country - as part of the review needed if their village design statement is to retain its status within the new planning system. We continued our programme of education on farming matters with visits to the Tichborn Estate, Southwick Estate and Broughton Buffalo Farm.
In the transport field, our Transport Campaign Group has had considerable success with our clutter reduction campaign. HCC traffic engineers are now showing support for the innovative traffic management schemes for villages we have been pressing for, and these will be tested along the Meon Valley, where a clutter reduction project is already in hand. This is known as the "Meon Valley Road Project", and the outcomes will be guidelines for use across the whole county.
We were disappointed that after all our work with BAA on their Masterplan for Southampton Airport, our views were not reflected in the final version. We shall continue to monitor and intervene as necessary. TAG at Farnborough aerodrome also has expansion plans, and an appeal against the local authority decision to refuse an application for increased weekend flights will be carefully monitored.
Traffic problems at Lyndhurst have been a longstanding problem, and air quality in the town is adversely affected by traffic waiting to get through. We have participated in discussions as to how this problem might be resolved without damage to the national park, but achieving a satisfactory outcome does not look promising, due to lack of funds at county level.
2006 was CPRE Hampshire's 40th anniversary (and CPRE's 80th) and we celebrated with a special AGM in May. The Lord Lieutenant attended and cut a birthday cake, and there were special displays of our work. It was a fun occasion.
Unfortunately, we have had little success in reviving our New Forest and South Hampshire District Groups, despite the fact that that the onset of the South Hampshire Sub-region in the South East Plan makes local CPRE activity crucial if we are to influence how the proposed massive development will take place, and conserve as much countryside as we can. This issue is discussed elsewhere in this Newsletter.
It was the aim for 2006, set by the Trustees, to move from a deficit budget towards a balanced budget, and to bring in new fundraising ideas focussing on District Group fundraising events and applications to charitable trusts. This has been successful, as we have a much reduced deficit for 2006, as the accounts set out in this newsletter show.
Because of a historic low renewal rate at the end of the first year, the Trustees decided in early 2006 to discontinue the highly discounted "special event" cash rate for new members. Inevitably, this has resulted in a "one off" loss of members in 2006, but future recruits will be long-term members, hopefully on direct debit for which a discount is given. A special effort needs to be made in 2007 to recover our member numbers. Will all members please help recruit others to join us, and support local District Group fund-raising activities.
This page updated 14th May 2007
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