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Celebration Party - 31st March 2010
To coincide with the actual day the new National Park comes into existence, we have organised a party to celebrate the success of CPRE in its campaigning for a South Downs National Park including the Western Weald. This will be held on 31st March at the stunning 16th Century Tithe Barn at Ditcham near Petersfield. You can download an invitation here (PDF file). If you have any friends or family who would like to attend, please pass on the invitation.
Successful Outcome to our Campaign!
We have succeeded in including the Western Weald in the newly announced (31st March 2009) South Downs National Park. This page records some of the chronology of our campaign and gives links to articles and press releases of the last few years. Here are some other links to follow (external links open in a new window):
Government urged to listen: 10,000 sign petition
On Saturday, 7 March, 2009, Michael Mates, MP for East Hampshire, was handed the Western Weald petition, containing nearly 10,000 signatures, by the Mayor of Petersfield, Cllr Vaughan Clarke.
Postcard Campaign Gathers Momentum (December 2008)
As part of the final push to show to the Government the strong public support for keeping the Western Weald in the new South Downs National Park, the South Downs Campaign is running a postcard campaign alongside the petition. During December over 1,000 postcards were signed by residents of Liss and Petersfield
One Last Push for the South Downs Petition (June 2008)
John Venning of CPRE Hampshire is urging as many people as possible to sign the petition to include the Western Weald in the South Downs National Park. The target is 5,000 signature by 9th July.
Read the press release
Closing statement (May 2008)
A closing statement from the South Downs Campaign (of which CPRE is a founding member) has been made to the Inquiry.
The introduction stresses that we "are campaigning for positive change to happen".
It notes that "one cannot think of a comparable campaign that consists of so many national, regional and local supporting organisations - including a number of town and parish councils."
The full 44-page statement discusses overarching issues, Lewes, Ditchling and the Western Weald. The final paragraph urges the Inspector "to recommend to the Secretary of State that they [all the areas mentioned] should all be within a South Downs National Park for the 21st Century.
In doing so you would be fulfilling the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the local residents and the myriad of national, regional and local organisations that constitute the South Downs Campaign."
Include the Western Weald! (March 2008)
A mass of detailed evidence to support the inclusion of the Western Weald in the South Downs National Park has been researched, written, printed and collated for delivery to the Inspector of the South Downs National Park inquiry. Read the full press release.
The Inquiry re-opened on 12th February. Details of the timetable can be found on the South Downs pages of the Planning Inspectorate's website. The current schedule shows it running until 24th April. The Inquiry and the status of the Western Weald was the topic of this week's 'Open Countryside on BBC Radio 4.
Will The Inquiry Process Be Flawed?
Over 150 campaigners from CPRE, other groups and Western Weald residents demonstrated outside a pre-Inquiry meeting at Hove Town Hall on Tuesday 11th December.
To coincide with this, CPRE national HQ issued a press release saying that the future of the South Downs could be jeopardised by a flawed Inquiry process.
In a press release about this meeting, the South Downs Campaign said that "the inspector has moved some way but concerns continue that inquiry will still not be a level playing field".
In 2003 we submitted our response to the consultation process for the proposal, strongly supporting the Downs and relevant hinterlands becoming a National Park. We subsequently played an active part in the 18-month long planning inquiry.
However, we object to the Inspector's findings, released at the end of June 2007, that recommended the exclusion of the Western Weald, which has been nationally protected as AONB since the 1960s. See 'nonsensical boundaries' below.
The Future of The South Downs - Book Offer
For any CPRE member interested in the history and the future of the South Downs, a new book being published by a local publisher may be of interest. There is a special offer to CPRE members of £10 off the list price, va;id until 30th April 2008. Please see leaflet (PDF) for further details.
Chris Huhne MP adds his support
On 23rd October Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Environment - Chris Huhne MP - visited Whitehill and Liss today to meet South Downs campaigners and see for himself countryside at the centre of a national debate over its inclusion in the proposed South Downs National Park.
Bill Bryson visits the area left out
Bill Bryson, CPRE's president, recently (11th September) visited areas in the Western Weald which were recommended by the government's planning inspector to be excluded from the proposed national park. He was accompanied by John Venning and Margaret Paren of CPRE Hampshire and also people from CPRE Sussex, CPRE national headquarters and the South Downs Campaign.
The new proposed boundaries exclude over a quarter of the land area originally designated for the Park, which according to Bill Bryson is "some of Englandís finest and one of the glories of the English landscape is its huge variety." In Hampshire this includes the area around Petersfield.
CPRE has objected to the boundary changes proposed in the Inspector's report. Compared to the 2002 draft plans whole swathes of beautiful countryside are now earmarked for exclusion from the new national park.
Other groups have also commented on the exclusion of their areas. See, for example, the Alice Holt Forest website, lamenting the exclusion of the forest, Binsted and the 'Northern Hangers'.
The Long Journey
The South Downs National Park was proposed over 60 years ago. Below are links to the 60th anniversary walk and some articles about progress over the last few years.
Some Other Links
This page updated 25th February 2010
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