Garden designer Dee Haas on campaigning for the Hampshire countryside

Dee Haas

Dee Haas - Credit: Archant

? After recently becoming the Chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England in Hampshire, garden designer Dee Haas is ready to fight for our green spaces

Having just been appointed your new role, what are you most looking forward to for 2014?

We have a wealth of knowledge amongst members and volunteers at CPRE Hampshire and I want to find a way of sharing that with more people. I have been particularly impressed with a new Water Policy drawn up by one of our volunteers to steer our work in that area and I am also very excited about a new award for green development, sponsored by Radian Housing that we have planned for 2014 as part of our Hampshire Countryside Awards. I am really looking forward to meeting our members at some of the exciting events this year, and hearing their ideas.

Tell us a bit about your background

I trained as a Chartered Landscape Architect and now work from home, designing gardens and small commercial projects. My first job was with Dartmoor National Park. While working in London I volunteered with the London Wildlife Trust and Camley Street, an inner city wildlife park. I believe in making natural areas accessible to everyone, which fits with CPRE’s philosophy.

And why is the countryside so important to you personally? I grew up in rural Devon and have always had a passion for the countryside. As a result I believe that green space is essential to human wellbeing.

What are your aims for CPRE?

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Hampshire is increasingly vulnerable to speculative housing and green energy proposals. Local Authorities are under pressure to give developments permission because they know that if permission is refused, there will be a high likelihood of the inspector overturning their decision. We are experiencing “Planning by Surrender”. In a nutshell, I would like to help CPRE to protect the Hampshire landscape for future generations to enjoy.

And how do you intend to achieve them?

We need to support projects such as our popular workshops for Parish Councils, or providing expert advice to other campaigners. CPRE volunteers do a lot of work behind the scenes and this should be encouraged and celebrated. It is a small charity, that has just three part-time office staff, and all of the campaigning is done by volunteers.

How do you think your expertise in garden design will help in your role? My training as a Landscape Architect has given me a knowledge of landscape and planning issues; I am not just looking at the countryside as an enthusiastic layman, but as someone who understands the landscape in its context.

What can our readers do to help and support CPRE for 2014?

CPRE Hampshire’s motto is that we ‘Stand up for the countryside’ – we give the countryside a voice, which no other charity does. We need more members to add their voice to ours. We also have many volunteering opportunities – from helping out at events to the more cerebral campaign work, or simply being our ‘eyes and ears’ around the county.

We’d love more rural businesses, organisations and young people to enter a ‘CPRE Hampshire Countryside Award’. This is a growing annual event that helps to celebrate all the great things going on to protect Hampshire’s countryside. Companies can also join us as a corporate partner. Do please email me on or telephone CPRE on 01962 779185 for more information.