Did You Know… CPRE Surrey has a new Chair of the board.
Our latest AGM meeting in September saw Kristina Kenworthy handing over the CPRE Surrey reigns to John Goodridge who is ready to lead us as we “fight the good fight against unreasonable development”.
Our previous Chair, Kristina Kenworthy, has been a member of CPRE Surrey for 27 years and has been Chair of the board for the last six years. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that we are at the forefront of the movement to protect our countryside alongside having to make tough financial cuts so we can continue to do the work we do. Her legal background has been indispensable to us as we have fought against unreasonable development in Surrey.
As a keen cyclist and walker, John enjoys making the most of the beautiful areas of Surrey that are nearby to his home such as Hindhead Commons, Devil’s Punch Bowl, Thursley Common, and Hankley Common. It was this love of the outdoors and his local area that prompted John to join the board of CPRE Surrey as Treasurer in 2020. John recognises that the next few years will be tough as we continue to be “the voice of the countryside”, we will face challenges from all sides as organisations and the government looks to build on green spaces, relax rules on damaging practises like fracking and avoid action to mitigate climate change.
In John’s opening speech he expressed concerns that the National Planning Policy Framework is not fit for purpose. He noted that the new Prime Minister Liz Truss has said “we need to build a million homes on the London green belt near railway stations and around other growing cities” and also the new Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has said, “It is going to be primarily on green fields but there is going to be some element of green belt as well because not all green belt land is areas of outstanding natural beauty”. The new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, Simon Clarke, has also expressed a wish to free up green belt land for development.
John says “As supporters of the green belt, we at CPRE should realise that things are going to change. It is essential that we remain a part of the conversation, nationally and locally, being the voice of the countryside. We have always espoused the green belt and for there to be no change to its boundaries or legal strength in protecting the green spaces we have, but there is no guarantee that this will remain in place. Building houses is an effective way for governments to create economic growth at no cost to the public purse. We have to ensure that the right houses, ideally affordable homes, are built in the right places, ideally brownfield sites, of which there are plenty near railway stations around the country and in Surrey rather than in the fields that Jacob Rees-Mogg suggests. The only sacrifice that this would entail would be reduced profits for the big builders, and I’m sure you would agree this is something we are very welcome to campaign for.”
John was keen to acknowledge the work that our parent organisation, CPRE, does to spread the word and gain exposure via the national press and to celebrate our past achievements in campaigns that have helped Surrey to retain our beautiful countryside. He also said that a key focus will be infrastructure “our water systems are close to breaking down, and our energy plan for the coming decades, in an ever-important backdrop of climate change, is obviously impaired. Unfortunately, these potentially huge infrastructure projects do come at a cost to the taxpayer, and so are politically unappetising. Difficult decisions will have to be made, and we need to be there every step of the way to protect the countryside.”
As well as this John hopes to continue to retain and further relationships with other local groups, local councillors, and MPs and to encourage new memberships so that we can continue to stand up for our countryside.