David Johnson, Chair of CPRE talks about its work at our 2019 AGM

BOGNOR IS NOW A MILE NEARER CHICHESTER THAN IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO!

Sarah Quail reports on what David Johnson, Vice Chair of the Sussex Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), had to say at Chichester Society’s AGM held 16 October 2019 in the Assembly Rooms.

Yes, we learned this startling fact about Bognor early in David Johnson’s address. I suppose we should not be particularly surprised. Acres of green field are fast disappearing round Bognor and Chichester to satisfy the insatiable demand for more housing across the country. There is no designated green belt along our coastal strip which is constrained by the South Downs National Park to the north and the sea to the south. Only green gaps prevent the coalescence of the different urban areas. These gaps are vital, David Johnson argued, for a whole number of different reasons not least our physical well-being.
CPRE works to protect, promote and enhance our towns and countryside to make them better places to live in, work and enjoy, and to ensure that the countryside is protected for now and for future generations. To these ends, the Sussex Branch is challenging housing need numbers, and the whole notion of what is actually affordable housing. It endeavors to work with local authorities on how we can all make development work without jeopardizing what we hold dear: access to greenery!

He also discussed the impact of our changing weather on the local environment and in this context touched not only on the Medmerry managed realignment scheme but also on the need to cut car journeys by 20 percent. Controversially, he asked why we are discussing new roads for Chichester? Plans for the A27, he suggested, need to be re-examined in the light of climate change exacerbated by petrol and diesel-driven internal combustion engines.

We must also build sensitively on brown field sites before we start driving earth-moving equipment onto green fields. Interestingly, he moved on to discuss the growing lack of public confidence in local authorities’ ability to implement a planning framework now generally regarded as faulty in the light of climate change. De-growth, he argued, was what was required now not more growth.

A Chichester branch of CPRE Sussex has been established recently and details of how to join can be found on their website at www.cpresussex.org.uk. The purpose of CPRE Sussex is to shape the future of this county in a positive way. It is keen, David Johnson said, to be both a town and country organization and it is indeed in all our interests that they take forward these ambitions and continue to campaign on the environmental impact of development across this region.

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