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Review of the year 2022

12th December 2022

We take a look back at what has your support helped make happen this year.


From working with Local Action groups to celebrating wild flowers and from demystifying the planning system to championing our countryside and green spaces, it’s been another busy year for CPRE Bedfordshire.


Helping you to take action

We’ve continued to work closely with Local Action Groups to help them achieve their aims. We’ve created a new page on our website which gives details of open consultations and advice on how to respond, this sits alongside our existing directory of local action groups. Three highlights from this year were working with the Say No to Greenwoods New Town campaign to create a photo feature exploring the landscape of the area, creating a video with the Church Road Local Action Group in Flitwick to highlight a piece of Greenbelt under threat, and helping the Save Steppingley Road Field campaign to tell the story of the site through the centuries. Save Steppingley Road Field also helped us pilot a new initiative by creating a walk to highlight the area under threat. We hope to see other Local Action Groups following their lead in 2023.

The Church Road application was withdrawn but we are still waiting to hear about both Greenwoods and Steppingley Road Field.

Steppingley Road Field.

Protest walks

On Sunday 13th February groups from across Bedfordshire braved the weather to take part in peaceful protest walks, raising awareness of threats to green spaces and open countryside.

CPRE Bedfordshire and local action groups joined together to organise and promote a number of walks throughout the county. Each walk had a different focus, but all were united by the desire to raise awareness and take action. From valued urban green spaces to Greenbelt designated countryside, the walks threw the spotlight on places under threat.

We used our website to enable local groups to share information about their walks in the run up to the event and to share photographs afterwards.

Getting creative on the Greenwoods walk | Tom Rowland


From workshops to blog posts and our photo competition, this year we put the spotlight on the plant life of Bedfordshire

In June, the first CPRE Bedfordshire wildflower workshop aimed to bust some of the myths and provide down to earth information and advice on how to establish a meadow and maintain it so that it flourishes.

The workshop was attended by a diverse mix of people from parish councils, local community groups, landowners and businesses. Led by Pat Knight the workshop was set in Oakley – a parish that really is outstanding when it comes to wildflower meadows. For a small village it boasts two stunning sites – Linch Furlong and Riverside – which made the ideal setting for the workshop and provided a great example of what can be done with good management.

The workshop group near Oakley Church

The theme of this year’s photo competition was ‘plants and people’, with entrants sharing their shots of people engaging with the natural world. The winning entry was used on the cover of the autumn edition of our magazine, Bedfordshire Matters, and was taken by Pavithra Reddy (aged 13) in Clapham Woods.

The winning entry in this year’s photo competition.

We also picked up the wildflower theme in our blog posts which featured a diverse range of topics from snowdrops to Bedfordshire place names inspired by plants. We also looked at Charles Abbot, possibly Bedfordshire’s first botanist, and used photographs from the 2021 Living Countryside Awards as the basis for a photo essay on the different ways that projects used flowers.


Demystifying the planning system

Following feedback from groups across the county, we created a one-day workshop which we ran in November to bring together representatives from Parish and Town Councils in Bedfordshire, Local Action Groups and community representatives to learn more about the planning system in a relevant and understandable way.

Our website feature on The Growth Plan, Investment Zones and Bedfordshire, proved very popular, as we sought to cut through the media coverage and explain what government plans might mean for Bedfordshire.

We published our full response to the Bedford Borough Council Local Plan 2040 Submission Draft Consultation. We highlighted some of our key concerns in our more accessible web feature. Making our responses available is an important part of our work to help you engage with the local planning system.


Joining with National CPRE

CPRE’s Star Count is the country’s biggest citizen science project of its kind. Between 26 February and 6 March this year we asked you to report the number of stars you could see in the Orion constellation. In Bedfordshire 41% of respondents reported that they could see 10 or fewer stars, this is a significant improvement on the 2021 results where 71% of respondents reported that they could see 10 or fewer stars. However, in both 2021 and 2022 no-one reported being able to see more than 30 stars, the sign of truly dark skies.

CPRE’s interactive maps allow you to explore the results.

Many of you took action to help with a national CPRE campaign calling on the government to commit to planting thousands of miles of hedges all across the country, with a target of 40% more hedges by 2050.


Looking ahead

The first Living Countryside Awards were held in 2008 so in 2023 the awards will have been running for 15 years. We think this is something worth celebrating! We’ll be catching up with previous entrants and finding out what’s happened for them since they took part. We’re also looking forward to discovering a new set of people, projects and businesses doing great things in their communities.

Houghton Hall Kitchen Garden


We’ll keep standing up for the Bedfordshire countryside. Want to stand with us? Sign up now for monthly news on our work or join us as a member from just £3 a month.  

Walkers taking part in the BFARe protest. Alan Goodger