The Chilterns Conservation Board has announced that Dr Matt Thomson has been appointed as the new Planner for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Matt took up the post on 29 June.
Matt joins the Chilterns Conservation Board from his role as the Head of Land Use and Planning at CPRE, the countryside charity, where he has overseen a push for national planning policy to recognise the intrinsic value of open land, the countryside and rural communities.
As planner, Matt will influence and shape development and infrastructure within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Working closely with the local authorities within the Chilterns, he will maximise the opportunities in the planning process to conserve and enhance the natural and historic environment of the area.
Matt will play a key role in influencing national planning policy to ensure positive outcomes for the Chilterns. For example, the Government is currently exploring how it will respond to the Landscapes Review, which includes the recommendations that the Chilterns be designated a National Park and have a single AONB-wide local plan. He will also be looking at the impact of the Government’s current plans to rapidly expand road and house building in the wake of Covid-19.
‘We are very fortunate to have someone of Matt’s calibre to join our team,’ said Dr Elaine King, CEO of the Chilterns Conservation Board. ‘The Chilterns is one of the most high-profile landscapes in the country, yet it is faced with unprecedented pressure from development and infrastructure. This is an exciting and influential role, and Matt joins us at a crucial time for protected landscapes, both locally and nationally.’
Dr Matt Thomson said: ‘I’m thrilled to be joining the Chilterns Conservation Board as their planner at such a pivotal time, with immense development pressure, but also the opportunity to transform the AONB into a National Park, and at a time of renewed appreciation of the value of landscapes and natural places for people’s physical and mental wellbeing. The Chilterns first became my playground when my parents moved to Hertfordshire in the ‘80s, and I’ve lived at the foot of the Chilterns scarp for almost 25 years. With its proximity to London, and being criss-crossed by roads, railways and waterways, the Chilterns is an intensively used landscape, but in my view the most delightful in England.’