New pledge to protect Stevenage’s Forster Country

THE newly-elected chairman of a group which aims to protect an open green space from development has said he is “fully committed” to preserving the area.

John Spiers, of Whitney Drive in Stevenage, is now chairman of The Friends of Forster Country.

Forster Country is the last remaining farmland in the borough of Stevenage.

The area, to the north of the town, is where author E M Forster spent his childhood, living at Rooks Nest House on Weston Road, close to St Nicholas’ Church, from 1883 to 1893.

His novel Howards End was inspired by his childhood home.

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Since 1946, people have campaigned against various attempts to build on Forster Country.

In 1988, retired geologist John Hepworth and writer Margaret Ashby, both from Stevenage, formed The Friends of Forster Country with the aim “to preserve for all time the open green space to the north of Stevenage known as Forster Country”.

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Mr Spiers, who was a chartered engineer before he retired in 2008, was elected chairman at the group’s recent annual general meeting.

He has been a Friend of Forster Country for 10 years and has lived in Stevenage since 1971.

He is married to Hilary and has two sons and two grandchildren.

“I am in full agreement with the aim of the organisation and hope to be able to maintain, or even enhance, the profile of The Friends of Forster Country,” he said.

“I am fully committed to the preservation of this beautiful tract of land.”

He continued: “It is an ambition of The Friends of Forster Country to create a country park in the area whilst maintaining its essential character.

“Stevenage has now been developed beyond its original concept and I believe that people deserve to enjoy the rural aspects of the town as envisaged in the first place.”

In addition to the annual New Year’s Day walk which celebrates Forster’s birthday, Mr Spiers plans to hold an event each year to generate more local interest.

The event for 2011/12 will be a photographic competition which will culminate in an exhibition which it is hoped will be staged at several venues in Stevenage.

For more information about Forster Country and The Friends of Forster Country, visit

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