A PROFESSOR of planning has been appointed as the new chair of the New Forest National Park Authority.
Prof. Gavin Parker, who was born and brought up in Salisbury and now lives in Downton, said he had a “strong affinity” with the Forest.
The University of Reading academic was selected by NPA members at a meeting last Thursday to replace Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, a former Official Verderer who served as chair for six years.
Prof. Parker has been a member of the NPA since 2017. He said: “My main aim as chairman is to continue to build the necessary networks and collaborative relations needed for the work and the aims of the national park to flourish and to be promoted.
“The trust, faith and input from the wider public from within the Forest and beyond is also very important.
“So we will reach out and broker and make use of the goodwill that is out there to redouble our efforts to respond to some of the challenges stemming from the Glover Landscapes Review about how protected landscapes and their governance bodies need to respond to the climate and nature emergencies and help more people connect to nature.”
He added: “As someone born and brought up in Salisbury with family in Downton on the northern edge of the Forest, my interest and commitment to the wellbeing of communities in and around the Forest has always been close to my heart and I’ve been very privileged to be able to have a career that has embraced countryside planning for around 25 years.”
In taking the role, he paid tribute to former chair Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre.
Prof. Parker teaches at the University of Reading and specialises in countryside planning and community engagement research.
He has published widely on topics relevant to the work of the NPA and has been a director of the Royal Town Planning Institute and chaired a rural community council.
At the meeting Patrick Heneghan was appointed deputy chairman. New members Alexis McEvoy, Stephen Tarling and Victoria Mander were also formally welcomed to the board.