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 develops and secures funding for major projects. Catherine recently secured funding for the €23 million EXPERIENCE Sustainable Tourism project and leads a team to deliver a range of sustainable tourism initiatives across the Kent Downs AONB and the North Downs Way National Trail.  Catherine also led on the Green Pilgrimage project maximising tourism linked to pilgrim heritage in Kent.

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.  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.

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.

Isabel Shaw – Project Officer, UNESCO Sites Across the Channel

Isabel works on the UNESCO Sites Across the Channel (USAC) project to secure UNESCO Global Geopark status for the Kent Downs AONB, working in partnership with our neighbouring protected landscape Parc Naturel des Caps et des Marais d’Opale (PNRCMO), and all the social, economic and environmental benefits this would bring. The proposed Geopark will comprise both terrestrial areas and the marine area connecting the two protected landscapes, recognising and celebrating the geological connection between us. Isabel also works on Farming in Protected Landscapes, specialising in supporting projects with outcomes for people, inclusion and access.

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 is part of the team delivering the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme; a Defra grant funded project for farmers and land managers in the Kent Downs AONB.  This initiative delivers environmental benefits within the Defra categories – Nature, Climate, People and Place all in support of ‘natural capital’ through niche projects undertaken by the applicants.  Pippa also specialises in fruit and viticulture production and developed the proposed actions for the new Environmental Land Management schemes in these areas of horticulture.  With a background in heritage fruit production, she also provides support to local traditional community orchard groups in and around the Kent Downs.

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.


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 works across all communications for the Kent Downs AONB including our website, social media, newsletters, and press releases. Particular focuses include our initiatives on sustainable tourism, UNESCO Global Geopark, accessibility, and Farming in Protected Landscapes.

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