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Specialist Advisory Service

Specialist Advisory Service

What we do

We have the knowledge and expertise needed to provide neighbourhood planning support to communities and Planning Authorities in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), market towns and rural areas.

We can provide planning consultancy support tailored to your needs from getting started and setting objectives to writing policies and gathering evidence. We can work with you on individual elements of your neighbourhood plan or be there with you from start to finish. Please view our leaflet and examples of our most recent work below.

Our Ethos

Our principles are to help you to prepare plans that are sensitive to the location and firmly guided by the community’s need and aspirations. They will very much remain your plan.

We work to empower communities to produce Neighbourhood Plans which respond to local needs and meet the requirements set out in planning legislation. Our consultancy service can guide you through the sometimes complex process of preparing a legally binding community plan.

Who we are

We are a small team of planners and community development specialists who work for the South Downs National Park Authority and also operate a planning consultancy service providing neighbourhood and community planning support to communities and planning authorities.

Lucy Howard BA (hons) MA RTPIPlanning Policy Manager

Lucy is a chartered planner, who has worked for local planning authorities for twenty years. She has been the Planning Policy Manager for the SDNPA for over five years.  In that time there have been 53 areas designated for the purposes of neighbourhood planning of which 29 have been made part of the development plan.

She leads the Specialist Advisory Service, which was set up to share the team’s expertise with communities outside the National Park.  She leads a knowledgeable and experienced team of planners who work successfully with communities to deliver positive outcomes.


Chris Paterson BSc (hons), Communities Lead

Chris has extensive experience of community engagement and is eligible for RTPI membership. He has worked for local authorities for over 16 years.

He supported the market town of Petersfield in the successful preparation of their NDP.

He has also supported a number of Village Design Statements and Parish Plans.


Katharine Stuart BSc(hons) MA Certificate in Ecological Consultancy, Planning Policy Lead

Katharine is a Policy Planner and has specialised in environmental aspects of planning for eight years.

She has particular expertise in Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity with experience of landscape, historic environment, Local Green Space designations and green infrastructure planning.

She has undertaken Habitats Regulations Screening and Strategic Environmental Assessments for several NDP’s.


Amy Tyler-Jones BA(hons) MA MRTPI, Senior Planning Policy Officer

Amy is a chartered town planner with specialist knowledge of neighbourhood and community planning, having worked for local authorities and the national planning charity Planning Aid.

Amy has supported communities across the country and delivered training in neighbourhood planning for communities and planners.

She has seen many plans through every stage in their preparation and specialises in housing land allocations.


Sarah Nelson BSc(hons) MA MRTPIPlanning Projects Lead

Sarah is a Chartered Town Planner with almost twenty years of local authority planning experience. She has worked with Neighbourhood Plans across the South East and has supported all stages of the plan process including appearing at Examination hearings on behalf of the SDNPA.

She supported the market town of Petworth and a number of smaller communities with the successful preparation of their NDPs.   She specialises in writing and interpreting planning policy, reviewing representations, liaising with other Planning Authorities and community involvement.  Having worked previously for Mole Valley District Council and Horsham District Council she is very familiar with the area.


Hannah Collier BSc(hons) MA, Senior Planning Policy Officer

Hannah is a Senior Policy Planner with specialist knowledge of neighbourhood planning and has just joined the SDNPA from a neighbouring district council.

She has worked collaboratively with parish and town councils, supporting their NDP progress through from area designation to making part of the development plan.

Examples of recent work include:

  • Local Green Space assessments on behalf of Horsham District (for Storrington Parish) and Thruxton Parish (to be published in April 2018).
  • Housing Needs Assessment for Rudgwick Parish
  • Preparation of a Regulation 14 Plan for Thruxton Parish (Published in April 2018)
  • Interim ‘Health Checks’ for parishes in Hampshire and Kent
  • Support for parishes going through the examination of their NDP.
  • Working on behalf of Authorities providing Neighbourhood Planning support to their communities.

Get in touch

Tel: 01730 814810
Email: neighbourhood@southdowns.gov.uk


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