Joint Advisory Committee (JAC)

An area as large and varied as the Kent Downs relies on many stakeholders who have a role in managing the landscape, supporting local business and communities and enabling quiet recreation. The Joint Advisory Committee plays a pivotal role in helping realise the strategic vision for the Kent Downs National Landscape and oversee the Management Plan.

The Joint Advisory Committee for the Kent Downs National Landscape was established in July 1997 and is at the heart of the partnership. It’s purpose is to provide advice to its members with statutory responsibilities for the effective management of the Kent Downs National Landscape. An Executive of representatives from the JAC, with some outside advisors, advises the work of the Kent Downs National Landscape Unit.

The Kent Downs National Landscape Unit is employed by Kent County Council and works on behalf of the JAC to carry out the preparation and review of the Management Plan, to advocate its policies and work in partnership to deliver a range of actions described in the Action Plan.


Independent Chairman: Chris Reynolds
Vice-Chairman: Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council

Funding partners

Defra and Local Authorities with areas in the Kent Downs National Landscape


Cllr Jessamy Blanford, Ashford Borough Council

Daniel Carter, Ashford Borough Council

Bethan Hall, Ashford Borough Council

Rhianne Pearson, Ashford Borough Council

Ben Johnson, London Borough of Bromley

Martin Hall, Canterbury City Council

Cllr Dane Buckman, Canterbury City Council

Cllr Pamela Brivio, Dover District Council

Jillian Barr, Dover District Council

Stafanie Bramley, Dover District Council

Cllr Stephen Scoffham, Folkestone and Hythe District Council

Rebecca Chittock, Folkestone and Hythe District Council

Cllr Gavin Larkins, Gravesham Borough Council

Elizabeth Straupmanis, Gravesham Borough Council

Cllr Rob Thomas, Kent Country Council

Matthew Smyth, Kent County Council

Claire Pamberi, Kent County Council

Cllr Patrik Garten, Maidstone Borough Council

Rob Jarman, Maidstone Borough Council

James Bailey, Maidstone Borough Council

Cllr Simon Curry, Medway Council

Anne Knight, Medway Council

Catherine Smith, Medway Council

Cllr Simon Reay, Sevenoaks District Council

Vivienne Riddle, Sevenoaks District Council

Hannah Gooden, Sevenoaks District Council

Cllr Terry Thompson, Swale Borough Council

Jill Peet, Swale Borough Council

Cllr Mike Taylor, Tonbridge and Malling District Council

Jenny Knowles, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Julian Ling, Tonbridge and Malling District Council

Other member organisations

Keith Harrison, Action with Communities in Rural Kent

Michael John Knatchbull, Country Land and Business Association

Peter Kendall, English Heritage

Jonathan Balkwill, Environment Agency

Barrie Neaves, Environment Agency

John Wilson, Kent Association of Local Councils

Paul Robert, Historic England

Doug Taylor, National Farmers Union

James Seymour, Natural England

Karen Rigby Faux, Natural England

Steve Law, Visit Kent

Other members may be invited to join from time to time.

The County Council, District Councils and the London Borough of Bromley are represented by an elected member with accompanying officer adviser. Local authorities may send substitute members.  The JAC has the power to co-opt as and when necessary.  Should a vote be required, voting rights are limited to funding partners. In the event of a tied vote, the Chair has the casting vote.

Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman

The JAC will elect a Chairman from either a funding partner member or independent member,which is thought desirable to support the advisory function. The Vice-Chairman is also elected. The terms of office for both the Chairman and Vice-Chairman are three years. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman may be elected for further terms. The JAC meet twice a year. The Chairman can convene further meetings of the JAC according to the strategic needs of the National Landscape Partnership.


The Secretariat for the JAC is provided by the National Landscape Unit. The agenda for the JAC will be co-ordinated by the Executive Group and the Unit. A small Executive Group meet as required by the chairman but normally four times a year. The Executive Group advise on the implementation of the management plan, and are responsive to opportunities as they arise. The Executive Group report to the JAC and have specific terms of reference delegated to it by the JAC.

The Executive is a representative sub-committee to provide advice on the following matters:

  • the management preparation, adoption, implementation and review of the National Landscape management plan
  • the key issues facing the Kent Downs National Landscape, including planning policy and development management matters, proposals for appropriate action and for seeking funding and sponsorship from external sources
  • proposals for liaising and consulting with appropriate external bodies
  • the staff work programme and the monitoring of budget expenditure for the National Landscape Unit and personnel matters as appropriate


The Executive Group is chaired by the chairman of the JAC. Wider membership is flexible based in part on the skills that members bring but includes Natural England (as Government’s statutory advisor on landscape) and Kent County Council as the employing authority. It is agreed that there should be at least four members from the other Local Authorities, either Members or Officers. The Local Authority representatives are sought to represent ‘a grouping’ of authorities rather than single authority. Additional members are from other organisations according to the skills and influence they can offer, for instance the parish councils, business interests and NGOs.  At least one member should represent landowners or land managers.

The Kent Downs National Landscape Forum

The Forum is a  place to report and celebrate the work undertaken in the previous year and help to set the agenda for the coming year. The Forum is open to many groups, organisations and individuals with an interest in the Kent Downs National Landscape and will broaden ownership and influence in the work of the JAC, Executive and Unit.

Format and timing

Each year the Forum is held within the Kent Downs National Landscape in the form of a ‘Countryside Day’.  Activities could include, for instance, presentations, site visits and workshop sessions covering a range of current topics.


Attendees include many organisations currently excluded from the JAC such as the National Trust and Woodland Trust, the Countryside Management Partnerships and businesses. Relevant organisations will receive a formal invitation but the events are open to all with an interest.

The JAC appoints other sub-committees on a needs basis to advise the JAC with respect to matters arising from time to time.

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