Conference October 17th 2023 – Communities: Enrichment & Resilience

17th October 2023 - 9am - 4.30pm

Oculus The Gateway Conference Centre, Gatehouse Rd, Aylesbury, HP19 8FF

Local Councils play a significant role in shaping our communities which impacts the lives of its residents. Whether devolved or not; local councils are increasingly responsible for delivering services and managing community assets. Many of which will directly affect the health and wellbeing of residents.

The social wellbeing of a community relies strongly on the services, facilities, and activities available and on the opportunity for community engagement, interaction, development of a sense of inclusion and community cohesion.  As the first tier of local government, this is an area where we are best placed to make a positive impact.  

What’s Happening?

During this conference we will be focussing on four key areas Community Support, Partnerships, Funding and Youth.  You will come away with the ideas, skills, and practical tools you need to achieve more for your community.

The event offers delegates the opportunity to build connections, resource anchor organisations and  empower their councils and community leaders to develop and deliver a diverse range of community enhancement projects and support.

Our programme includes peer led keynote addresses, speakers from our principal authorities Buckinghamshire Council and Milton Keynes City Council, panel discussions, peer to peer workshops and Q&A sessions to enable delegates to share best practice and inspire future collaboration while highlighting new opportunities.

Our exhibitors will offer not only practical advice and solutions, but also act as springboards to our  delegates. 

Book Tickets

Members Tickets £25 per delegate

Non-members Tickets £50 per delegate

Book Workshops

At the conference there will be four workshops on during the afternoon session. These are for limited numbers of participants. All workshops are running simultaneously so please book onto your preferred workshop using the links below:

Bookings for the FREE workshops are only available to attendees of the conference with a valid event ticket.



Registration is open, please take you seats in the auditorium for 9.40am.

Welcome address from Mel Woof and Kate Sheard and setting the scene for the day ahead.

With nature in decline, climate change accelerating and the impacts on people being felt more heavily every year, we all need to take action. We can’t rely on international commitments between states to halt and reverse biodiversity loss or national governments to act on our behalf. We need local action to solve global challenges. We need to restore habitats and create new spaces for nature, but we also need to policies to deliver this. Our actions, our policies and our planning system all need to enhance not destroy our local nature

Matthew Stanton is the Conservation Strategy Director at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. After working as a solicitor in London for nearly 10 years, Matthew joined WWF-UK to lead their legal advocacy work, focusing on pressing for new environmental legislation in Westminster. During that time, he was also chair of the Wildlife & Countryside Link Legal Strategy Group. He loves being part of a team that protects our local nature and connects people with wildlife on their own doorstep.

The Chilterns National Landscape (formerly the Chilterns  Conservation Board) is launching a new online toolkit of pages, examples and hints and tips on the Neighbourhood Plan process and its content.  Designed specifically for Parishes that are considering the Neighbourhood Plans process, this brief presentation will introduce this new resource.

Speakers: Dr Matt Thomson, Head of Planning & Strategy and Dr Michael Stubbs Planning Advisor, Chilterns National Landscape.  Michael supports the Head of Planning at the Chilterns National Landscape, responding to planning applications and policy matters and seeking to influence the planning and development process as it affects this nationally designated landscape.      

The speaker(s) will be able to host questions during the remainder of the day if Parish representatives want to explore this option, especially if at a very early stage in this process.

Dr Matt Thomson, Chiltern Conservation Board Planner

Dr Michael Stubbs MRICS MRTPI Chartered P&D Surveyor and Chartered Planner

Recent Practice Summary (Spring 2024)

Planning work in National Landscapes and involving heritage assets and lighting policy, Neighbourhood Plans,  University teaching and learning, Local Plan representations, Expert Witness Consultancy.   

Ratcliffe, Stubbs & Keeping Urban Planning & Real Estate Development July 2021

Ratcliffe & Stubbs Urban Planning & Real Estate Transformations July 2023

An insight into what these two important new policies, now required under the Environment Act, mean in practice at a local level.  The talk will set our how our local planning system is changing to ensure delivery of biodiversity net gain including where and how will offsite Biodiversity Net Gain be provided and managed. The talk will also explain the opportunities that the LNRS will provide to help inform and enable delivery of the agreed priorities and wider vision of nature’s recovery for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

David Sutherland

A charted town planner by training David joined Buckinghamshire County Council in 1994. He became Head of Planning and Environment at Buckinghamshire Council in 2015 until the formation of the new Unitary Council in April 2020 where he  moved into the role of Head of Climate Change and Environment. Since 2022 he has been leading the authorities preparations for the implementation of new nature related policies under the Environment Act, specifically the mandatory introduction of Biodiversity Net Gain in the planning system as well as preparation of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy.   

Milton Keynes is a planned new town, what might we learn from the city design and biodiversity?


Phillip is the Strategic Landscape and Countryside Manager for Milton Keynes Council. With over two decades of working In Milton Keyes he has seen many changes in the city and wider afield.

His experience extends through ecology, biodiversity, play and the management of open spaces. He is deeply committed to community participation, environmental education, and the role public open space.

  • Phillip Snell – MKCC
  • David Sutherland – Buckinghamshire Council 
  • Matthew Stanton – BBOWT
  • Dr Matt Thompson – Chiltern Conservation Board
  • Dr Michael Stubbs – Chilterns National Landscape 
  • Russell Hartwell – Future Nature

We will talk about how to engage local people to help you achieve your goals. The importance of understanding your community, agreeing outcomes, and empowering people to help you achieve your long term vision is essential for successfully protecting and enhancing local biodiversity. We will give you ideas, tools and resources to help you make this happen.

Lily O’Neill is Community Networking Officer at the Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust. Lily works across all three counties, supporting community groups and inspiring people to take action for nature on their patch. With a background in botanical horticulture, and 5 years working in public gardens, she has always been passionate about engaging a wider audience with nature.

Kate Sheard is Community Wildlife Manager at the Berks, Bucks and Wildlife Trust. Kate leads the Community Wildlife Team which delivers community engagement projects across all three counties. Kate has worked for BBOWT for nearly 10 years and before that the National Trust and RSPB. Kate has a wealth of experience working with various stakeholders including local authorities, community groups, schools, volunteers and the general public and a practical nature conservation background. Kate is passionate that everyone should have access to green spaces and nature on their doorstep and that all our lives are a little bit better when they are a little bit ‘Wild’.

Dr Katie Horgan is the Community Ecologist at Future Nature, Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s wholly owned Ecological Consultancy. Katie has extensive experience working with a wide range of stakeholders, including local authorities, schools, interest groups and volunteers, helping them take action for nature where they live. Most recently she has been working with community groups in Buckinghamshire. Her experience includes supporting local Councils and residents to work together towards achieving their goals for biodiversity. Katie has a background in teaching, community engagement, site management and biodiversity research, and is committed to creating biodiverse spaces where people can take action for and connect with nature.

Burial grounds can be fantastic for biodiversity containing our oldest trees, rare lichens, ancient meadow and much more. By small changes to the management, often reverting to how they were managed a few decades ago, this can be enhanced. This accessible green space is a perfect place to start nature recovery, used and loved by local people they can galvanise public engagement and support.

Harriet Carty 

Harriet is a professional ecologist and has worked in nature conservation for many years, specialising in land management for biodiversity. Drawn by an obsession with islands she has worked on nature reserves in the Seychelles and the Orkney islands then settled in landlocked Shropshire. Harriet has worked as a consultant for the National Lottery Heritage Fund for many years, supporting work involving landscape-scale habitat restoration, volunteering and training. She has been working for Caring for God’s Acre for nine years, initially as a project manager helping to steer the expansion from a Shropshire and Herefordshire based charity onto a national stage. She has been director of the charity since  January 2017.

  • Kate Sheard – BBOWT
  • Lily O’Neill – BBOWT
  • Dr Kate Horgan – Future Nature Community Ecologist
  • Harriet Carty – Caring For Gods Acre
  • Nicola Thomas from Bucks and MK NEP


Chalk, Cherries and Chairs (CCC) is an ambitious Landscape Partnership that aims to connect local people to the wildlife and cultural heritage of the Central Chilterns. Its work focuses on three themes – wildlife, heritage and people. A whole host of interweaving projects fall under these three themes, designed with the Chilterns’ landscape in mind and sharing common threads, such as volunteering, learning and digital media. CCC is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with match funding from a range of sources including the HS2 Community & Environment Fund, and is hosted by the Chilterns National Landscape.

The Chilterns National Landscape is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an area of land that is of national importance for its natural beauty and special qualities, including geology, wildlife, landscape features, and rich cultural history. National Landscapes have the same level of landscape quality and the same level of protection as National Parks.

The Chilterns National Landscape is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an area of land that is of national importance for its natural beauty and special qualities, including geology, wildlife, landscape features, and rich cultural history. National Landscapes have the same level of landscape quality and the same level of protection as National Parks.

We fund projects of all sizes that connect people to the UK’s heritage with grants from £10,000 up to £10million. 

Find all the information you need to apply or check out examples of projects we’ve already funded below.