Any Questions? 28th April

CPRE Kent is to hold an election debate in the Maidstone and the Weald constituency on Tuesday 28th April.

Seven candidates will participate in the event, “Any Questions: Maidstone and the Weald General Election 2015”, at Oakwood House in Maidstone from 7-9pm.

The key question they will be asked to address is how we can meet our housing needs. Considering the mismatch between the growth in the need for housing and the current supply of new homes, few would disagree that the UK is in the midst of a housing crisis and must take urgent action to redress this balance. As such, the housing debate centres on where and how new housing should be delivered. The role of the planning system is central to this debate, as is the structure and diversity of the house building industry.

polling station 2 ballot box

Key facts to consider include:

  • The number of households in England is projected to grow to 24.3 million by 2021, an increase of 221,000 households per year
  • Annual housing completions in England totalled just under 110,000 during 2013.
  • Government statistics have shown that brownfield sites have a potential capacity for between 1.5 and 1.8 million new homes in England
  • The percentage of housing delivered on brownfield land has decreased in recent years to 68% in 2011, falling from 80% in 2009

This debate matters to the constituents of Maidstone because the Borough Council is in the process of preparing its plan for the next 20 years which will see significant growth with around 18,000 new homes.

CPRE’s 2015 Election Manifesto calls for the better protection of our countryside under the next government with the key priorities:

  •  the right housing in the right places
  • the right infrastructure, for the right reasons
  • a beautiful countryside to sustain us all

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “Achieving this would mean a genuine national commitment to ‘brownfield first’ policies, allowing planning authorities to direct development to where it is most needed, rather than where it is most profitable for developers to roll out across major greenfield sites. Tax breaks to incentivise the clean-up of brownfield sites might be a simple way to check the outward sprawl of suburbia while our run-down town and city centres are starved of investment.

“It would also mean a commitment to smarter planning which will enable people to make more sustainable decisions on transport and energy use.”

The candidates taking part in “Any Questions?” are:

  • Jasper Gerard, Liberal Democrats
  • Helen Grant, Conservative
  • Dr Paul Hobday, National Health Action Party
  • Hannah Patton, Green
  • Eddie Powell, UKIP
  • Allen Simpson, Labour
  • Steve Uncles, English Democrats

It will be chaired by CPRE Vice President Richard Knox-Johnston. Attendance is free but prior booking is essential via:

24th March 2015

Local Lists and Regeneration

Over 40 people were at Turner Contemporary on Tuesday (17th March) to discuss the role of heritage in regeneration, promotion of tourism and preparation of local heritage lists.  The meeting was a follow-up to our own workshop in November.

James Kennell, Director of Economic Development Resource Centre

James Kennell, Director of Economic Development Resource Centre

James Kennell of Greenwich University provoked a lot of discussion with his review of different approaches to “regeneration”, giving examples throughout the UK and abroad, and of how successive governments have approached regeneration issues. He described some key factors needed to attract tourists to an area and increase their contribution to the local economy. He emphasised that it is not enough to just have heritage assets; they need to be presented in the right way.




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Date set for Heritage Symposium at Turner Contemporary

Margate Civic Society and the Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum are hosting a symposium at Turner Contemporary on 17th March 2015 for all who are interested in preparing Local Lists of historic buildings.  This is a follow-up to our own meeting last November, targeted at the East Kent area, but open to all to attend.  It is an all-day event that will explore the process in more detail.

The keynote address will be given by James Kennell of the University of Greenwich Business School, who has written extensively on coastal cultural regeneration and tourism.  The Sevenoaks Society will update us on their local listing project in Sevenoaks Town, and our own Historic Buildings Committee will illustrate the need for Local Lists with some recent case notes.  The agenda is on the Margate Civic Society website.

Local Lists will be a record of the buildings which are treasured by the community and will help district councils in preparing their heritage policies for Local Plans and in determining planning applications.  CPRE Kent Historic Buildings Committee wants to see all planning authorities in Kent and Medway adopting such lists and is keen to get all civic societies and local historical societies involved, as well as those preparing Neighbourhood Plans.

To register your interest in the symposium, contact Geoff Orton at Margate Civic Society.

Meeting with Planning Minister

Members of the Gravesham District Committee of CPRE Kent together with the Gravesham Rural Resident Group (GRRG) met with Minister of State for Housing and Planning Brandon Lewis on February 9th 2015. The meeting was organised by Gravesham MP Adam Holloway.

They wanted to raise their concerns about threats to the Green Belt from development plans. Gravesham Borough Council is revising its Green Belt boundary as part of its housing delivery review. CPRE Kent and the GRRG are opposed to any erosion of the Green Belt and the implications of any such erosion would stretch far beyond Kent.

Members of the delegation including Adam Holloway MP, CPRE Kent's Richard Knox- Johnston and Alex Hills and GRRG Chairman James Ferrin as well as parish councillors

Members of the delegation including Adam Holloway MP, CPRE Kent’s Richard Knox- Johnston and Alex Hills and GRRG Chairman James Ferrin as well as parish councillors

Chairman of the Gravesham Committee, Alex Hills said: “He made it absolutely clear that Strategic Housing Land Assessments (SHLAAs) should regard the Green Belt as an environmental constraint and housing supply figures must be adjusted to accommodate this. He also stressed that councils behind on delivering their five year housing supply target should not use that as an excuse to build on the Green Belt.”

Mr Lewis also called on all rural areas to form their own neighbourhood plans.

February 11th 2015

CPRE Kent flooding conference attracts 100 delegates and widespread interest

One hundred delegates, two MPs, experts from Kent County Council, the Environment Agency and the influential Committee on Climate Change and many members of CPRE Kent attended our highly successful conference – Flooding: Facts, Fears and the Future.

The event was organised by CPRE Kent, in conjunction with Kent County Council, to draw attention to the major threat of flooding to the county, to consider the lessons learned from the devastating floods of Christmas/New Year 2013-14 and to share opportunities to reduce risk in the future.

The event was covered on BBC South East today, BBC Radio Kent and ITV Meridian as well as local newspapers.

Yalding, Christmas 2013, Photo - BBC South East

Yalding, Christmas 2013, Photo – BBC South East

CPRE Kent Vice-President Richard Knox-Johnston

CPRE Kent Vice-President Richard Knox-Johnston

Opening and chairing the event, CPRE Vice-president Richard Knox-Johnston, said; “If we rewind to the situation just over one year ago we must remind ourselves that it could happen again. We want to raise awareness of how it happened; were communications adequate; how successfully did the agencies work together; were the insurance claims handled efficiently and fairly; was there adequate support for people forced to leave their homes and what action is being taken to address future risk?”


He added: “It is a sobering fact that houses are still being built in flood risk areas.”
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Flooding: Fears, Facts and the Future – this week

Residents, environmental experts, parish and district councillors and people working in flood-related industries have booked places at the high profile flooding conference, Flooding: Fears, Facts and the Future, taking place in Kent this Friday (6th February).

The conference, at Sessions House, Maidstone, is jointly organised by CPRE Kent and Kent County Council. Topics include: the lessons learned from the devastating floods of last winter; changing climate and flood risk; safe development in areas threatened by flood; and the impact on farming.

Photo: Jacqueline Ickham

Photo: Jacqueline Grimsley

“This is an important conference for people living in Kent, a county which has suffered greatly from floods in recent years. We will hear the very latest plans on flood prevention and emergency response as well as some innovative and exciting ideas for the future,” said Hilary Newport, Director of CPRE Kent.

Speakers include the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, David Thomas, Senior Analyst at the Committee on Climate Change and Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council.

Places are still available at the conference which runs from 9.30am-4pm (registration from 8.45am) and includes lunch and refreshments. Booking is via Eventbrite, click here. For the full programme click here.

February 6th 2015

Your Built Heritage – Update

Our meeting in November brought together a number of people and organisations from all over the county with an interest in helping district planning authorities prepare local lists of heritage assets.  Members of the Sevenoaks Society described their project to list historic buildings in Sevenoaks town and the meeting discussed how similar projects could be progressed elsewhere.  The record of the meeting is here.

Things are moving on in Thanet, with a follow-up meeting being organised for February/March.  Representatives from the main civic societies in Thanet are involved, as well as colleagues in Sandwich and Deal.  If you want to be kept informed, contact our Historic Buildings Committee at

Flooding: Fears, Facts and the Future

An exciting programme has been announced for Flooding: fears, Facts and the Future, the conference on 6th February 2015 organised jointly by CPRE Kent and Kent County Council.

Photo, Nick Blackman, flickr

Photo, Nick Blackman, flickr

Speakers include:

  • The Rt Hon Damian Green MP: Safe Development in an area of flooding, looking at experience in Ashford as a high housing growth area which is threatened by floods;
  • David Thomas, Senior Analyst at the Committee on Climate Change: Adapting to a changing climate – is planning policy addressing future flood risk?
  • Paul Crick, Director of Development, Planning and Enforcement at KCC: Lessons learned from the storms and floods of Christmas/ New year 2013-14;
  • Geraldine Brown, Chairman of Yalding Parish Council: The Yalding Experience;
  • Espen Ostbye-Strom, Chief Operating Officer, Floodline Development: Making the most of available land – how we can build on flood risk areas safely;
  • Christine Drury, Chairman of CPRE Kent: The Romney Marsh Challenge – looking at the impact on farming in this special area.

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Flooding one year on – are we better prepared now?

As Kent approaches the anniversary of the devastating floods of Christmas 2013, CPRE Kent is asking will we fare better this winter?

We are planning a major conference to look at the lessons learned from the December 2013 floods which left hundreds of people evacuated from their homes and thousands without power.

Flooding: Fears, Facts and the Future, organised in partnership with Kent County Council, will be held at County Hall, Maidstone on 6th February 2015.

Photo - BBC South East

Photo – BBC South East

“We feel it is vital to look at what has happened since those disastrous floods and what prevention work is planned and then to assess whether this will be enough to prevent the terrible damage to homes and land in the future,” said CPRE Kent Vice President Richard Knox-Johnston. Continue reading

Christmas Cheer

The annual Christmas party for our volunteers was treated to a rendition of CPRE Kent President Graham Clarke’s latest poem.

Graham Clarke and CPRE members

Graham Clarke and CPRE members

Marshian Invasion

The anxious folk from nearby Lydd
Said “It can’t happen.” But it did
Invaders that the marsh folk feared
Quite suddenly had all appeared
So now among the marshland farms
They flail their three white swirling arms
Said Bill Shepherd to his dog
“They’re ‘ere to blow away the fog”
“Don’t talk daft Bill,” said his mate
“They’re ‘ere to ‘elp ‘lectrificate”
A good stiff breeze, that makes em whir
A sort of turbine ‘arvester
To ‘ave ‘em seems to me a pity
To light up someone else’s city.

©Graham Clarke 2014

Merry Christmas to all from CPRE Kent

Merry Christmas to all from CPRE Kent





Flooding conference announced

CPRE Kent has announced that it is to hold a major conference on the lessons learned from the 2013 floods, how effective the flood prevention measures are this winter and if anything more needs to be done, including innovative solutions.

The conference, jointly organised with Kent County Council, will be held in Maidstone on February 6th 2015 next year. Keynote speakers include the Rt Hon Damian Green MP, Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter CBE and Chairman of Yalding Parish Council Geraldine Brown. The Environment Agency and Climate Change Council will be represented and the conference will be chaired by CPRE Kent Vice President Richard Knox-Johnston.

Following the Government’s announcement last week (December 3rd) of £2.3 billion for flood defence schemes, Richard Knox-Johnston said: “We welcome the recognition that flooding is an issue which must be addressed and will closely monitor how effective the flood defence schemes are. We question whether this will be enough as we understand it is not new money and maintenance is as important as capital projects.

Photo - BBC South East

Photo – BBC South East

“We understand why the Government has areas of high population as a priority, but the protection of farmland should be recognised too because the economy depends on our agriculture.

“We must also highlight the danger of building on floodplains and ensure that proper planning controls are in place to minimise the risk to householders.

“We are organising this conference to examine the lessons learned, in particular after the terrible floods of last winter, and look towards future actions and initiatives.”

9th December 2014

Fracking debate

CPRE Kent has taken part in two debates on fracking in the last fortnight. Vice-President Richard Knox-Johnston and Chairman of the Environment Group Graham Warren attended the

Graham Warren and debate chairman Trevor Sturgess

Graham Warren and debate chairman Trevor Sturgess


debate at Christ Church University on November 19th which attracted great media interest.

And Graham Warren was on the key speaker against fracking at a debate hosted at Hadlow College and organised by the Rural Business Group. CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport also attended.

To read Graham Warren’s detailed report on Shale
Gas and Oil Exploration and Development in the
Weald and East Kent click here. To
CPRE Kent’s views on fracking click here.

December 2nd 2014.

2014 AGM

More than 80 members attended CPRE Kent’s AGM at Lenham Village Hall on Friday (21 November). Prior to the meeting, there was a highly entertaining playlet on 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, written by President Graham Clarke and performed by Graham together with Vice Presidents Sir Robert Worcester and Amanda Cottrell.

Graham Clarke and his Magna Carta masks

Graham Clarke and his Magna Carta masks

The premiere of a new playlet on the signing of the Magna Carta

The premiere of a new playlet on the signing of the Magna Carta







During the formal AGM members heard about the campaigns over the last year and priorities for the year ahead. Elections to the board were held and the annual accounts approved.

AGM members audience cropped

The keynote speaker was the National Chairman of CPRE Su Sayer who spoke of her lifelong love of the countryside and the challenges ahead in protecting it. Continue reading

Fracking debate tonight

CPRE Kent members will be attending the Fracking debate at Canterbury Christ Church University tonight November 19th).

Vice President Richard Knox-Johnston and Environment Group Chair Graham Warren will take part. Gerwyn Williams, chairman of Coastal Oil and Gas, and Nick Riley, a geologist and director of the consultancy Carboniferous Ltd, will speak in favour of fracking with five against.

Annual General Meeting – this Friday

21 November 2014, lunch 12.30pm, AGM 2.00pm, Lenham Community Centre, Groom Way, Lenham ME17 2QT.

Following the AGM business the Keynote Speaker will be Su Sayer (National Chair of CPRE)
followed by a panel discussion on development in Kent villages.

To view the agenda click here

The full accounts, the annual report and further information on nominees are available on request from the Branch Office.

To view a calendar of outings planned for 2015 click here.