fbpx Skip to main content

South Downs Centre - Temporary Closure

The South Downs Centre in Midhurst is temporarily closed to visitors but our team are still on hand to answer your calls and emails.

Meet our Members

Meet our Members

Below you can find biographies of all Members of the South Downs National Park Authority.

  • Ian Phillips, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority

    Ian PhillipsNational Appointment

    Ian was appointed to the SDNPA in April 2013. He is a chartered landscape architect and town planning consultant with many years’ experience in the local government, NGO, not-for-profit and private sectors.

    He has been elected to a second term as Vice President of the Landscape Institute (LI) for two years from July 2015 and has a long history of active voluntary engagement as a member of the Institute’s Council and Policy Committee, with particular interests in green infrastructure. He represents the LI on a number of other organisations including the TCPA, British Standards Institute, the National Planning Forum, the International Federation of Landscape Architects and the Trees and Design Action Group. He has also been a member of the European Commission Working Group on Green Infrastructure.

    Growing up in Brighton gave him opportunities to explore and enjoy the South Downs landscape and this experience became a major influence in his decision to pursue landscape architecture as a career. He now lives in Farnham with his wife and twin daughters and enjoys photography, interesting food and unusual travelling directions.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: Calleva, West End Grove, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7EG
    Telephone: 01252 712296
    Email: ian.phillips@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Vanessa Rowlands, Deputy Chair

    Appointed by – East Sussex Parishes

    Appointed in June 2019.

    Vanessa has lived in the Cuckmere Valley for the past 16 years and is a Councillor for Cuckmere Valley Parish Council. Two of the most visited destinations in the SDNP are in this parish: Cuckmere Haven and the Seven Sisters Country Park.

    Her background is in the music industry, arts and heritage, and feels lucky that the South Downs is well served with world class museums & galleries. The stunning historic villages, with their heritage buildings and the landscapes that surround these special places, are layered with stories. Tackling the conservation of these heritage sites whilst at the same time acknowledging the reality of the climate & ecological emergency is of great interest to Vanessa and something which she hopes can contribute towards through her Heritage MA, (studying at Sussex University).

    As a keen environmentalist, Vanessa is excited to be involved with the SDNPA as the ground-breaking Local Plan is implemented. She is a firm believer in incorporating renewables where possible and conserving natural habitats

    Vanessa is also a mentor for the charity The Girls Network, which aims to support girls from disadvantaged backgrounds and have volunteered at Charleston Farmhouse and Towner Eastbourne. Vanessa spends a lot of time exploring the Downs around where she lives, either by running or on a mountain bike.

    Register of Member’s Disclosable Pecuniary Interests Form

    Contact: Address: c/o SDNPA, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH.
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: vanessa.rowlands@southdowns.gov.uk 

  • Alun Alesbury

    Alun AlesburyAppointed by – West Sussex Parishes

    Alun Alesbury was appointed to the SDNPA in April 2010 and reappointed in July 2015. He is a senior practising barrister specialising in planning and local government law. He has also been appointed to hold public inquiries on numerous occasions by central or local government, e.g. into restricting the use of speedboats on Windermere in the Lake District National Park, genetically modified seed licensing etc. He was a national appointee on the Sussex Downs Conservation Board, and then the South Downs Joint Committee from 2001. He is a member of Stoughton Parish Council (West Sussex), and chairs its planning committee.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: Manor Farm House, Walderton, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 9EF
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: alun.alesbury@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Heather Baker

    National Appointment

    Heather was appointed to the SDNPA in April 2016. She has lived within the National Park boundary for 37 years, and lives in Tillington with her husband, Joe.

    Heather was the elected member for Fernhurst at Chichester District Council, from 2003 until 2015. She held the Environmental Health portfolio for 7 years, a member of the Planning Committee for 7 years, and was leader of the Council from 2011 to 2015. During that time the council underwent a huge cost-cutting exercise which saw savings of £7.5m without detriment to its vital services and  its Local Plan adopted.

    Heather has a degree in Ergonomics, and her professional background is in ICT. Her particular interests are planning matters, and the built and the natural environment. She enjoys boating, walking, riding, tennis, dogs, gardening and birdwatching

    Register of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: heather.baker@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Annie Brown

    National Appointment

    Annie was appointed to the SDNPA in July 2020. She is a third generation family farmer on the South Downs, with a formal education in agriculture, business management and marketing. She lives in the Cuckmere valley on her husband’s farm, and has overseen the strategic development of her family farm at Truleigh Hill since the inception of the National Park.  She picked up the reins with mother and sister when her father died, and has overseen the delivery of a highly complex environmental stewardship scheme. The business has gained local and national recognition for its achievements in making space for nature while producing food. She feels passionately that the South Downs is a working landscape and that traditional mixed farming practices – creating a mosaic of growing crops, grazing mixed livestock, wildlife corridors & field enclosures – contribute to the open rolling views that signify what we know and love about this landscape. 

    She is the lead farmer in the Eastern South Downs Farmer Cluster and is actively working with a group of farmers, land managers and stakeholders between Eastbourne and the Adur to improve the local natural environment at a landscape scale through co-operation and knowledge exchange.  Based on the principle of “bigger, better, more joined up” this approach to land management is coming into focus with the development of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme.

    She is vice Chair of the CLA South East committee, an active member of the local community in the Cuckmere, the NFU, the local agricultural society & the Local Access Forum for both Brighton & Hove City Council and the National Park and is keen to explore opportunities to reach out – to visitors to the Park, influencers, academics & researchers. Engagement is not traditionally in the tool box of many farmers, but never has there been a more important time to communicate beyond the farm gate, bridging the gap between urban and rural, working landscape and visitor, the importance of health and wellbeing, and an understanding of where our food comes from.  

    The structure of farming on the South Downs is fragile, and she is keen to champion the voice of the farmer and working landscape, to help protect and enhance the wealth of Natural Capital in the Park.

    Declaration of Members Disclosable  Pecuniary Interests 

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: annie.brown@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Tim Burr

    National Appointment

    Tim was appointed to the SDNPA in July 2020. He has lived at Watersfield in the National Park with his wife Gillian since 2006.  Tim was first elected to the SDNPA in June 2017 as a West Sussex Parish Member, and served on the five-Member Task and Finish Group that led the review of the Partnership Management Plan.  Unsuccessful in the 2019 Parish Member election he lost his place as a SDNPA Member, but re-applied in 2020 and was reappointed as a Secretary of State Member.  This persistence reflects a strong commitment to the National Park, and especially to broadening its appeal across all sectors of the community.  

    Interests include British prehistory, in which Tim graduated from Southampton University post-retirement; cultivating Australian flora; and managing his 28 acres of National Park woodland.  He was a volunteer on the SDNPA’s Secrets of the High Woods project and, as an occasional stargazer, strongly supports its Dark Skies initiative.

    Tim’s career was in public finance, over more than 40 years, mainly in HM Treasury but with two spells in the Cabinet Office and concluding in the National Audit Office, ultimately as Comptroller and Auditor General.  Reflecting this career path, he was – and now is again – a member of the Authority’s Policy and Resources Committee.

    Declaration of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: tim.burr@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Chris Dowling

    Appointed by – East Sussex County Council

    Appointed in 2017

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests 

  • Janet Duncton

    Appointed by – West Sussex County Counciljanet_duncton Photo

    Janet was appointed to the SDNPA in June 2016. She was born in Petworth, and is married to local Farmer Chris Duncton, they farm within the National Park at Osiers, bordering Ebernoe Common Nature Reserve.

    A West Sussex County Councillor since 2013 where she is Chief advisor to the Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, and Chief advisor to the Cabinet member for Residents Services with special responsibility for West Sussex Fire and Rescue, and is Vice Chairman of Rural Services Network (RSN) for the South East of England. Janet has also been a Chichester District Councillor since 1973 and has held positions of Leader, Cabinet member for Housing and Planning.

    Janet was a founder member of the Sussex Downs Conservation board, she is a supporter of agriculture, the Countryside the local community. Janet has always lived in the Countryside and enjoys walking, cycling, gardening and travel.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: janet.duncton@southdowns.gov.uk 

  • Angus Dunn

    Appointed by – Adur & Worthing District Councils

    Appointed in September 2020

    Declaration of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: angus.dunn@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Thérèse Evans

    Appointed by – Winchester City Council

    Appointed in May 2019

    Thérèse studied modern languages at university and spent the first half of her career as a teacher and Head of Languages in local secondary schools and FE colleges. She was first elected to Winchester City Council 24 years ago in 1995 and has held various positions or responsibility: Chair of Environmental Health and Standard committees, Deputy Leader, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and was elected to The SE Tourism Management Board as well as selected to be on the SE Arts Council. In 2001/2002 she was elected Mayor of Winchester and is now the “Mother of the House”. Planning and the environment have always been a main interest. She has been a member of the Planning Development Control Committee for 24 years and now since the May elections is Chair of Planning. She has worked with the LGA Planning Advisory Service and has represented the council on various environmental committees such as the AONB joint committee. She is delighted now to be the Council’s representative on the South Downs National Park Authority.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: therese.evans@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Martin Osborne

    Appointed by – Brighton & Hove City Council

    Appointed in October 2020

    Martin was appointed to the SDNPA in October 2020. He moved to Sussex from North Shields in 2017 to study and work on a postgraduate project with Southern Water and got elected onto the council in 2019. Martin sits on various committees including Licensing, Planning, Housing, Health Overview Scrutiny Committee and is also Chair of BHCC’s Procurement Advisory Board, which is an area he is particularly interested in.

    Martin is passionate about people and planet and transitioning to a more sustainable society that looks after both better and supports trans-formative policies such as a 4 day working week, a Universal Basic Income and a Green New Deal. He is a keen sports fan and enjoys playing tennis, golf running, cycling and swimming.

    Declaration of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: Martin.Osborne@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Barbara Holyome

    Barbara HolyomeAppointed by – Hampshire Parishes

    Barbara was appointed to the SDNPA in April 2010 and reappointed in 2014. She has been a parish councillor for more 26 years and is currently Vice Chairman of Bramdean and Hinton Ampner Parish Council. She is also on the Executive Committee of Winchester District Association of Local Councils (ALC) and is a Vice Chairman of Hants ALC. Barbara is the parish council representative on Winchester City Council’s Natural Environment Forum and the Alresford and District Partnership. She was previously on the Joint Advisory Committee of East Hants Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and its Planning Panel, and the South Downs Joint Committee (SDJC) and its Planning Committee.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: barbara.holyome@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Melanie Hunt

    Melanie was appointed to the SDNPA in July 2020. She was born and raised in Lewes, and grew up surrounded by the South Downs.  Her love for the area has not diminished, and even though her career in education has drawn her to other parts of the country, she has always returned to Sussex.  

    A graduate of the University of Oxford and a trained teacher, Melanie has had a long and varied career in education which included secondary school and further education – working within and across colleges in Sussex.  She has held posts with national responsibility in the Learning and Skills Council and Ofsted – both of which required regular contact with a variety of government departments and agencies.  

    Latterly, Melanie was Principal and Chief Executive of Sussex Downs College until she retired in 2015.  She was a member of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and worked closely with local and county councils, employers and community groups to promote high quality further education for young people and adults in East Sussex.

    She now lives in West Sussex and is a keen walker, artist and writer…. inspired by the South Downs of course!

    Declaration of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: melanie.hunt@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Doug Jones

    Appointed by – Hampshire Parishes

    Doug Jones was appointed to the SDNPA in January 2012 and reappointed in 2015 and 2019. He has been the Chair (and previously Deputy Chair) of the Authority’s Policy & Resources Committee and also served on the Planning Committee for a number of years, including a period as Deputy Chair. Doug is Chair of the Sustainable Communities Fund Panel and a member of the South Downs Local Access Forum.

    He was a Natural England appointee on the South Downs Joint Committee from 2008 to 2011 and served on its Executive Committee. At local level, Doug has coordinated a number of community initiatives in Buriton: to foster local social and economic well-being; to raise awareness of and respect for the local heritage; and to conserve and enhance the local environment.

    He has also helped other communities with Village Design Statements, Parish Plans, Local Landscape Character Assessments, Local Food & Farming Initiatives, Environmental Traffic Calming and local Heritage Projects. He first joined Buriton Parish Council in 1999.

    In his working career Doug was a Chartered Town Planner and Transport Planner for local authorities and in consultancy before joining the Local Government Association in London. As a Director his responsibilities included senior relationships with a wide range of organisations across many policy areas including planning, transport, housing, rural affairs, economic development, tourism and sustainable development.

    His interests include local history, walking and photography. He is a Trustee of a small charity helping communities in rural Ghana and a Trustee & Director of the Petersfield Museum.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: doug.jones@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Maggie Jones, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

    National Appointment

    Maggie was appointed to the SDNPA in July 2020.  She is a member of the House of Lords and opposition spokesperson on environment, food and farming issues. She is President of the Friends of the South Downs charity and is a keen walker. 

    Maggie also Chairs the Board of Rothamsted Enterprises, which is part of the globally renowned Agricultural Research Institute which is finding new ways to harness nature to improve the sustainability of food production. Maggie is a Sussex University graduate and has lived in Hove for over 20 years where she has a much loved allotment.

    Her background is as a union official for the trade union, UNISON. She also has a background as a housing campaigner and chaired one of the UK’s biggest Housing Associations for a number of years. 

    Maggie has a strong belief in the importance of a good diet in improving health and wellbeing, and was the Chair of the School Food Trust which first implemented nutritional standards for all school meals.

    Declaration of Members Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: maggie.jones@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Michael Lunn

    Appointed by – Wealden District Council

    Appointed in May 2019

    Cllr Michael Lunn was nominated by Wealden District Council to be a member of the South Downs National Park Authority in May 2019 following local elections. Cllr Michael Lunn represents the South Downs Ward covering Alfriston, Long Man, Folkington, East Dean, Friston and the iconic Cuckmere Valley and Seven Sisters Country Park. It is noteworthy Michael previously worked on the Seven Sisters Country Park as a Ranger in the 1990’s before going onto University to study environmental management and ecology. Michael also has a MBA and runs his own organic Sussex Beef herd and pig enterprise. Michael prides himself in supporting ‘farm to fork’ and promoting local food from the area. Michael has real concerns over the decline in local farms.

    Michael’s working career has seen him work with East Sussex County Council, Lake District National Park, and Northumberland National Park and for four years he worked in Australia for the Queensland EPA supporting industry, farmers and tourism to maximise sustainable productivity whilst protecting important landscapes. He has personally overseen and developed a number of sustainability reports which have had significant impacts on regional and national policy. Politically Michael supported David Cameron’s administration by developing the Quality of Life report with Lord Deben and Zac Goldsmith MP as a foundation of environmental manifesto. Michael went onto support DEFRA Environment Ministers and worked in the House of Commons for 2 years before joining the Environmental Industries Commission supporting industry to become more environmentally aware and promoting Eco Innovation. Michael meets and engages with Central Government (DEFRA, DfT, Treasury, DIT, and DFID) on a daily basis and will be a major asset to the South Downs National Park Board. Michael is also an active Member of the Sussex Bonfire Societies raising money for local charity across Sussex and also been an elected District Councillor for 8 years and Parish Councillor for over 10 years.

    Michael interests include: Farming, tourism, planning, policy, rural services, sustainability, climate change.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: michael.lunn@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Gary Marsh

    Appointed by Mid Sussex District Council

    Appointed in June 2019.

    This is Gary’s second term as a Member of the National Park. He is passionate about the environment and the sheer beauty of the diversity that’s lies within the park.

    Gary was born within, what’s now the National Park. His family have farmed for many years on the land surrounding Petersfield, where he grew up to love the countryside.

    Together with his wife he walks the many trails in and around the Park. Though they now live just outside of the Park, walking with their two dogs and respecting the countryside is within their DNA.

    Gary has been in local government since 1998, joining Mid Sussex District Council in 2003 to the present day. He has held various cabinet posts, the one which he cherishes the most was being in charge of planning and the environment.
    Gary brings this planning knowledge to the Park, which contributes to its lasting protection.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: gary.marsh@southdowns.gov.uk

  • William Meyer

    Appointed by – Lewes District Council

    Appointed in May 2019.

    William lives in Kingston, a small Downland village nestling beneath the South Downs a mile outside the county town of Lewes.

    Elected to Lewes District Council in May 2019 to represent Kingston, the rural ward combines the beautiful rolling landscape of the South Downs and ancient villages stretching from Falmer to the east of the City of Brighton & Hove, through to Kingston, Swanborough, Iford, Northease, Rodmell, Southease and Piddinghoe just north of the port of Newhaven.

    A keen walker and dog owner, William has spent the majority of his professional life working internationally in the pharmaceutical industry and more latterly in academic medicine and clinical research within the NHS.

    Membership of the SDNP Authority represents an opportunity to promote the health benefits that access to the South Downs provides. In addition, it offers the chance to influence the conservation and enhancement of the Park’s natural environment and bring these benefits to local residents and visitors alike.

    Register of Member’s Disclosable Pecuniary-Interests-J

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: william.meyer@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Robert Mocatta

    Appointed by – East Hampshire District Council Robert Mocatta

    Robert lives on the South Downs near East Meon and was appointed to the SDNPA in August 2015.

    He has lived in the National Park for the past 21 years and grew up just outside it in Haslemere.
    He was elected to East Hampshire District Council in May 2015, as the member for East Meon, Buriton and Langrish, and was elected Hampshire County Councillor for Petersfield, Butser in 2017.

    He is heavily involved in helping make Petersfield and its surrounding villages a great place for people to live, work and visit. He is a passionate about encouraging more people of all ages to walk and cycle as part of their daily lives.

    Robert’s interests include local history – he is chairman of the East Meon History group with a particular interest in tithe maps and nineteenth century village life. He is a keen walker and cyclist (both on and off road). He has been involved in Petersfield rugby club for many years, and has been its secretary for the past 12 years.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests 

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: robert.mocatta@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Russell Oppenheimer

    Appointed by – Hampshire County Council

    Russell was appointed as a Member of the South Downs National Park Authority in May 2017.

    Russell is the Hampshire County Councillor for Petersfield Hangers. This Division includes the Ashford Hangers, which is a National Nature Reserve and is often referred to as “Little Switzerland” due to its panoramic views and outstanding woodlands.

    Russell started his career in the Civil Service and spent eight years in the Cabinet Office. Since then he has founded a number of businesses and charities and has several Non-executive Directorships in the Mining and Metals Sector. He lives on the outskirts of Petersfield with his wife and three children.
    Russell is very fond of otters and is delighted that they are apparently returning to the River Rother. He and his children have been looking out for the otters but have not yet spotted one. They are looking forward to the day when they do.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: russell.oppenheimer@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Henry Potter

    Appointed by – Chichester District Council

    Appointed in May 2019

    Henry lives at the White House in Boxgrove where  he settled in 1985. He was born in West Sussex and has lived and worked in the county pretty much all of his life. His heart is in West Sussex!

    He has been a Member of Boxgrove Parish Council for the past 30 years and as Chairman on 3 separate occasions.

    He was elected as the Boxgrove Ward Member to Chichester District Council in 2007 and has continued to this current term, though due to the recent boundary changes, the Ward now includes Westhampnett and the name changed to the ‘Goodwood Ward’. It is one of the largest Wards in the District of approximately 32 square miles, and he’s familiar with just about all of it. The majority is within the SDNP and he relishes the opportunity to work with the Park Authority in the continued furtherance of it’s purposes.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: henry.potter@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Andrew Shaxson

    Appointed by West Sussex Parishes

    Appointed in June 2019.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests 

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Emailandrew.shaxson@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Isabel Thurston

    Appointed by – Arun District Council 

    Appointed in May 2019.

    Isabel Thurston has known and loved the South Downs all her life, having spent much of her childhood near Brighton and lived for the last twenty years near Arundel.  After studying English Literature and French, she worked in publishing for many years.

    She became interested in the environmental movement in the 1990s when she ran a Friends of the Earth group and worked for an environmental charity promoting ‘green’ design. Isabel’s passion for landscape and ecology is informed by her love of literature, history and wildlife. More recently she has worked as part of a small team running conservation courses at West Dean College, and as a private tutor.

    Isabel enjoys walking in the downs with her lurcher, sometimes accompanied on horseback by her daughter. After serving as a parish councillor, Isabel is now a Green Party District Councillor on Arun District Council and is also on the Committee for the Binsted Arts Festival.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: isabel.thurston@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Diana van der Klugt

    Appointed by – Horsham District Council

    Appointed in June 2019.

    Diana van der Klugt was appointed as a member of the South Downs National Park Authority in 2019 following her election as a Horsham District Councillor for Pulborough, Coldwaltham and Amberley Ward. She has also previously served on Parham Parish Council.

    Diana has a degree in French and worked in private practice as a solicitor. She also lectured at the College (now University) of Law in Guildford.

    She believes that National Parks have an important role to play in leading by good example on environmental issues. It is also of great concern to her that many rural areas are languishing in technological backwaters because of inadequate access to internet and mobile phone signals, which is detrimental to their social and economic well-being. She hopes that the SDNPA can help to address this problem.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: diana.vanderklugt@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Richard Waring

     Appointed by – East Sussex Parishes

    Appointed in June 2019.

    Richard Waring lives with his partner just outside Lewes in the SDNP.  He has recently retired from teaching to return to his previous profession as an actor and writer.  He is also a Volunteer Ranger for the SDNP, a Town Councillor for Lewes and an active member of his local Green Party.  He has an honours degree in Zoology and is an award winning children’s book writer.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: richard.waring@southdowns.gov.uk

  • Stephen Whale

    National Appointment

    Stephen was appointed to the SDNPA in July 2020.  He studied Economics & Politics at the University of Birmingham, after which he studied Law at the College of Law and the Inns of Court School of Law.  He was Called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1999.  Stephen is a senior practising Barrister, specialising in all aspects of planning law plus a range of rural law issues (including rights of way, village greens, felling licences and commons).  

    He frequently advises private clients, local authorities, residents’ groups and Secretaries of State, as well as representing them at public inquiries and in the courts.  Stephen is a member of the Agricultural Law Association, the Planning & Environment Bar Association and CPRE’s Legal Panel.  He writes the chapter on planning enforcement in the Encyclopedia of Planning Law. 

    Originally from Yorkshire, Stephen lives with his family in the South Downs National Park.  He is Countryside Champion for the Ashford Hangers National Nature Reserve near Petersfield.  Stephen’s interests include golf, country pursuits and the Scottish Highlands.

    Register of Member’s Disclosable Pecuniary Interests 

    Contact: c/o The SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810
    Email: stephen.whale@southdowns.gov.uk


Independent Members

Two Independent Members are recruited to the Policy & Resources Committees as follows:

  • Tom Fourcade

    Independent Member – Policy & Resources Committee

    Tom is a member of the UK senior civil service and has been responsible for directing operations of the Department for International Trade since 2016. Before Tom had over 20 years’ international experience of building businesses and not for profit organisations in leadership, advisory and investment roles in the environmental and renewable energy sectors. He has participated in creating several successful enterprises from start-up including two as CEO and held the role of Investment Director for a private equity investment fund. Tom is an Applied Sciences graduate of Kingston University and his final year thesis involved researching water course pollution in tributaries of the River Arun. He has been involved with conservation on the South Downs since childhood (as a volunteer South Downs Ranger and for the Adur Valley Project in the early 1990s) and is a keen off road cyclist and walker. Tom lives with his wife and two children in Storrington, West Sussex.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact:  c/o SDNPA, The South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9DH
    Telephone: c/o SDNPA 01730 814810

  • Carole Nicholson

    Independent Member – Policy & Resources Committee

    Carole Nicholson is an Independent Member of the Policy &  Resources Committee .

    Carole, an FCA, spent 14 years with MEPC plc, at the time the second largest quoted property company, as Group Treasurer and Finance Director of the UK operation. Carole spent the next ten years in consulting and Finance Director roles, including the Excel conference centre in Docklands and BPD plc, a start-up pharmaceutical business. She has also been a non-executive director and Chair of Audit Committees in several Ministry of Defence departments. In 2009, Carole became a non-executive director on the Board and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. As the Trust sought Foundation Trust status, Carole played a leading role in community engagements events and hosted two highly successful evenings for the Trust locally.

    Carole is known locally for her leading role in the Plumpton Village Action Plan which achieved an 82% response rate in its original questionnaire, and after three years has 80 volunteers helping to make the aspirations become reality. One of the achievements has been the foundation of a thriving Wildlife and Habitat Group in Plumpton. Carole became a Trustee of Action in Rural Sussex in 2010 and soon became Honorary Treasurer.

    Carole also became a Trustee and Honorary Treasurer of Sussex Wildlife Trust in 2011 and later becoming Chairman of the Trust for three years from 2015.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

    Contact: c/o committee.officer@southdowns.gov.uk


Co-opted Members of the Policy and Resources Committee

  • Lawrence Leather
  • Morris Findley

    Mo is a student at Brighton University studying Politics, Philosophy and Art and is passionate about preserving wildlife and biodiversity for future generations. Mo has previously been involved in a variety of environmental activism.

    Mo has worked as a youth worker for many years, particularly with teenagers in schools and after-school clubs. Through this, Mo saw the passion of young people for the future of their planet; and was inspired by movements such as the Youth Climate Strikes to represent the voices of young people in their anxieties and hopes about the changing climate.

    Mo desires to bring representation to the South Downs National Park Authority for People of Colour, LGBTQIA+ People, and Young People. Diversity is essential to the park, and it must be a park for all, and Mo wishes to advocate for this constantly, with particular concerns to accessibility and affordability.

    Register of Members’ Disclosable Pecuniary Interests


Independent Person for Member Standards

The Localism Act 2011 requires the Authority to appoint an Independent Person whose views are to be sought, and taken into account, before making a decision on an allegation of misconduct against a Member of the Authority.

The views of the Independent Person may also be sought on other standards matters including the procedures to be followed in dealing with allegations.

The Independent person also assists the Authority in promoting high standards of conduct by members and Co-opted members, and in particular upholding the Code of Conduct adopted by the Authority

Print

" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "