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Meet the team

Nick Johannsen – Director

Nick works with our partners to develop and promote the vision and strategic direction for the management of the Kent Downs AONB, he liaises at a local, regional and national level to secure commitment, policy, resources and action which will conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the area. He leads on the Management Plan review, oversees the work of the Unit and its delivery of the policies and actions of the plan. Nick also supports many partnership projects, amongst other work he is chairman of the Board of the ‘Up on the Downs’ Landscape Partnership scheme operating around Dover and Folkestone, chairman of the steering group of the Our Land sustainable rural tourism project, chairman of the Kent Landscape Group, chairman of the Mid Kent Downs Countryside Partnership, chairman of the North Downs Way National Trail Steering Group, chairman of the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme and he sits on the Kent Countryside Access Forum.

Rick Bayne – Landscape Partnership Manager

Rick leads on the delivery of ‘Samuel Palmers Earthly Paradise’ – The Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme for the AONB Unit. This scheme is being delivered between 2017 and 2022 in partnership with several other local organisations, and is receiving £2.1m of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as £460,000 from three EU Interreg 2 Seas projects: ICAReS (Innovation Cluster Accelerating Remote Sensing), SCAPE (Shaping Climate Change Adaptive PlacEs) and Triple C (Climate resilient Community-based Catchment planning and management). Rick also helps to maintain a legacy for the work delivered through the Valley of Visions Landscape Partnership Scheme in the Medway Gap which he led between 2007 and June 2013.

Peter Morris – North Downs Way Trail Manager

Peter is responsible for the maintenance and enhancement of the North Downs Way National Trail which runs from Farnham through the Surrey Hills AONB and Kent Downs AONB to the Dover coastline. He works in partnership with multiple agencies and stakeholders along the trail corridor to ensure the Trail is promoted effectively and local business and communities are engaged for the benefit of all.

Catherine Bradley – EXPERIENCE European and Project Development Manager

Catherine secured funding from Interreg Europe for the Green Pilgrimage Project which she now manages along with coordinating and overseeing multiple other Interreg projects. The Green Pilgrimage project explores how Pilgrimage and long distance walking can support natural and cultural heritage through sustainable tourism and economic development. Catherine also works closely with the North Downs Way National Trail as part of this project.

Rebecca Rees, EXPERIENCE Business Engagement and Tourism Manager

Rebecca works as part of the EXPERIENCE team engaging with active rural businesses to develop experiential tourism products which promote enjoyment and protection of the landscape. Rebecca is also responsible for tourism legacy and business planning, to ensure benefits continue after the project end.

Makala ThomasEXPERIENCE Tourism Project Officer

Makala supports the EXPERIENCE team as well as the wider Kent Downs AONB team in delivering The EXPERIENCE project and The Green Pilgrimage project.  Her remit is varied across the projects and includes project development, monitoring, communication, marketing, evaluation, reporting, recruitment and product development.

Lisa Monk-Jones – Finance, Reporting and Partnership Officer

Lisa is responsible for managing the overall unit budgets, including the preparation of financial claims for funders and the preparation/sorting of match funding evidence. She also produces financial reports and financial monitoring reports.

Antonia Omirou – Finance and Reporting Officer

Antonia manages the finances for the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Tim Owen – Partnership and Funding Officer

Tim works on the following areas:

  • Undergrounding of overhead electricity cables, a partnership project with other protected landscapes and UK Power Networks
  • National Grid Landscape Enhancement Initiative
  • Village signing programme
  • Monitoring the management plan outputs and actions
  • Fixed Point Photography monitoring programme (as part of monitoring the landscape condition)
  • GIS support for the AONB team and partners

Sally Evans – Partnership and Funding Officer

Sally has worked on community and countryside management projects throughout the Mid Kent Downs area, with involvement at key sites such as Boxley Warren SSS, Bredhurst Woods, Perry Woods and other Swale Community Woodlands.

She now works on conservation projects throughout the Swale part of the AONB, as well as on wider initiatives including the Experience project, Kent Downs LEADER project, bid development and support of the Kent Downs Trust.

Katie Miller – Planning Manager

Katie’s role is to seek to ensure that new development is sensitive to the AONB landscape.  This includes working with other AONBs in interpretation of national Planning Policy and best practice, seeking to influence planning policy documents, including local and neighbourhood plans and producing guidance and providing training to help promote positive planning across the AONB.  Katie also provides pre-application guidance and comments on the most significant planning applications affecting the Kent Downs, in accordance with the Planning Protocol.

Pippa Palmar – Senior Partnership Officer

Pippa leads the Kent Orchards for Everyone Project which works with 15 traditional community orchards in and around the Kent Downs. With a background in heritage fruit production Pippa provides the support to the parish councils and orchard groups to conserve and restore their community orchards. The four year project is creating a footplate for villagers to celebrate their heritage, to volunteer and collaborate in surveys, to participate in educational events and establish good management practices within our community orchards in the Garden of England.

Jennifer Smith – Interpretation and Community Learning Manager

Jennifer is the Interpretation and Community Learning Officer for the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme. She project manages and coordinates a host of inter-connected projects within the Darent Valley with the overall aim to get people reconnected to their local landscape and encourage them to explore, enjoy and value their natural and cultural surroundings. Jennifer also leads on all of the Scheme’s interpretation projects and works with a host of local organisations, schools, community groups among others, to deliver the various projects.

Mary Tate – Countryside Manager

Mary is the Countryside Manager for the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme and leads on the natural landscape and access components of the partnership. There are a diverse range of habitat types in the scheme area including Chalk Grassland, Parkland, Marshland, Woodland and the River Darent and Mary is working to improve these habitats in partnership with other organisation throughout the valley. Access improvements to the Darent Valley Path are also a key element to the project as well as other projects to address fly tipping in the valley and to  preserve veteran trees for the future. Mary is working with several local conservation and access organisations including Kent Country Parks, Kent County Council, Kent Wildlife Trust, Public Rights of Way, Kent Police, North West Kent Countryside Partnership, Old Chalk New Downs,  Local Borough and District Councils, Environment Agency, Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and local Landowners, Farmers and Parish Councils as well as other members of the DVLP team on cross cutting projects.

Anne Sassin – Community Archaeologist

Anne is the Community Archaeologist for the Darent Valley Landscape Partnership and leads on the heritage components of the project. The range of historical and archaeological features in the valley is remarkable, and a number of themed projects have been created to explore and protect the Darent’s unique cultural heritage, including work at Lullingstone Roman Villa, Eynsford Castle, Otford Palace and Dartford Gunpowder Mills, as well as a valley-wide LiDAR survey. Anne will be working closely with several local and regional heritage groups to help deliver the scheme, including the West Kent Archaeological Society, Kent Archaeological Society and the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) South-East.

Kate Hickey – Communications Manager

Kate manages all communications for the Kent Downs AONB and supports project communications. Everything from social media updates, newsletter and press release-writing, website updates, and reporting.