President: Merrick Denton-Thompson
Merrick Denton-Thompson is President, Trustee and Fellow of the LI.
Merrick has worked in local government and the voluntary sector for all of his career. He left local government as the Assistant Director of the Environment at Hampshire County Council, where he was responsible for environmental policies in strategic planning, rural affairs and the countryside service.
From 2006 to 2009, Merrick was on the Board of Natural England to assist in the development of the new government agency. He directed the Rural Pathfinder for the south-east of England in 2002; was a member of the Cross-Compliance Board for the Single Farm Payment; and a member of the Agri-Environment Review Group, which set up the Environmental and Countryside Stewardship Scheme.
Merrick is the founding Trustee of the Learning Through Landscapes Trust. He is also a member of the South Downs National Park Design Panel.
Immediate Past President: Noel Farrer
Noel is a landscape architect and urban designer, who has run his own award-winning practice for 20 years.
Noel designs for clients including Cathedral Group, Peabody Trust and the public sector, working on projects ranging from residential, education, parks and public realm.
Noel was President of the LI from July 2014 until July 2016. During that time, he campaigned to put landscape first in placemaking.
Noel sits on the government’s design advisory panel for housing, Design Council CABE’s infrastructure and design panels and other regional panels. Noel is a regular columnist and visiting lecturer on landscape architecture.
Honorary Secretary: James Lord
James is a partner and Head of Landscape Design at HTA. He has a 15-year background in design for interdisciplinary regeneration projects.
James has led on numerous landscape design projects for HTA. These projects include the award-winning regeneration of the public realm surrounding the De la Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, a new 70ha park in the Chatham World Heritage site, and the public realm for a 44-storey residential tower in Croydon.
Before joining HTA, James provided consultancy advice to clients in the housing, regeneration leisure and transportation sectors. Notably, James was responsible for designing the public realm for Empire Square in Southwark for Berkeley Homes and played a significant role in the redevelopment of the TAG Aerodrome, Farnborough.
James is currently the Chair of the LI’s Housing Committee and a judge for the LI Awards. He is also an active member of the Hackney Design Review Panel as well as a trustee of a London community garden charity.
Vice-president: Ian Phillips
Ian has been a nationally appointed member of the South Downs National Park Authority since 2013, where he serves on the Planning Committee. He has worked in the public and private sectors and in both rural and urban environments, including Camden and Hart local authorities.
His professional interests include trees, landscape planning policy and green infrastructure. As a member of the BSI panel on trees and landscape he has contributed to the widely used BS5837 on Trees and Construction. He also drafted the Thames Basin Heaths SPA Housing Delivery Plan, which underpins an exceptionally retained policy within the SE England Regional Spatial Strategy.
Ian represents the LI on IFLA and other organisations, including Trees and Design Action Group and the National Planning Forum, and has contributed to a number of LI consultation responses and publications, notably on green infrastructure.
Ian is an experienced speaker and has presented to local, national and international audiences on a range of topics. He strongly supports a landscape-led approach as fundamental to good planning. His interests include photography, cooking, gadgets and unusual travelling directions.
Honorary Treasurer: Carolin Göhler
Carolin is a chartered landscape architect and horticulturist with a keen interest in quality landscapes that benefit people and wildlife.
She is an experienced landscape architect, both in the UK and overseas, within councils and private practice, and covering private and civic schemes.
Over the last decade, Carolin was Chief Executive of Cambridge Past, Present & Future, a charity and independent planning-watchdog involved with green spaces, historic building management and environmental education.
Carolin’s was the former chair and a representative of the LI’s East of England branch. She was also the secretary to the East England Civic and Amenity Societies, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Writtle School of Design (University of Chelmsford).
Carolin is interested in quality landscape schemes, wildlife and landscape conservation, and sustainable and innovative design solutions. She enjoys saving a Tudor tithe barn, gardening and traveling.
Chair Education and Membership Committee:
Michelle Bolger is an experienced landscape planner and expert witness. Michelle specialises in undertaking or reviewing complex landscape, townscape, and seascape assessments for developers, local planning authorities, and local action groups. This includes Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.
Michelle is a passionate advocate of clearly written narrative landscape assessments that explain what matters and why. Her work has involved the landscape assessment of wind turbines, residential developments, nuclear power related installations, commercial and industrial developments from local plan allocation through to appeal inquiries.
Michelle has been actively involved with the LI’s ‘Pathway to Chartership’ for some time. She was a past chair of the Education and Membership Committee and has been on the Board of Trustees since 2014. She recently joined the LI’s Finance and Risk Committee.
Michelle has delivered a number of landscape and visual assessment training sessions including two for the Planning Inspectorate. She has also delivered presentations at the International Association for impact Assessment’s annual conferences (in 2012 and 2016).
Michelle began her career in education. In the 1990s she joined Liz Lake Associates, where she became a senior associate. Michelle worked for Gillespies LLP for three years before establishing her own consultancy in 2015. She is now the Director of Michelle Bolger Expert Landscape Consultancy Ltd.
Chair of the Policy and Communications Committee:
Kate Bailey joined the Policy and Communications Committee (PCC) about four years ago. She was elected to LI’s Advisory Council and became PCC Chair in 2016.
Kate’s early involvement with the LI was with its North-West Branch Committee and she also organised events for training and continuous professional development.
Born and brought up in Yorkshire, Kate worked in the public sector in Nottingham, London, Salford and Trafford Park. She says she has failed to retire because her work remains interesting and challenging. Now Kate is a self-employed planning and landscape consultant, specialising in the conservation and re-use of listed buildings and historic estates.
Kate is also a member of the Places Matter North West and other design review panels.
Based in Manchester, Kate plans to move to the Eden Valley in East Cumbria. In the meantime, she is her family’s gardener, cultural adviser and historian, and provides occasional “granny-day-care”.
Independent Trustee: Dr Phyllis Starkey
Dr Phyllis Starkey was Labour MP for Milton Keynes from 1997 to 2010. During that time, she was a ministerial aide in the Foreign Office from 2001-2005, and chair of the select committee for Communities and Local Government 2005-2010. She was also chair of the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology.
From 1983-1997, Phyllis was a councillor in Oxford, with responsibility for transport, finance and, for three years, she was a council leader. She was chair of the Local Government Information Unit.
In her professional career Dr Starkey was a lecturer at Oxford University, heading a research group in reproductive immunology. She subsequently worked in policy at the Biological and Biotechnology Research Council.
Since 2010, as well as joining the LI’s Board of Trustees, Phyllis has been a board member of Green Square Housing Association, and St Martin’s Housing Association, plus a trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Phyllis lives in Oxford.
Independent Trustee: Jim Smyllie
Jim had a 30-year career in public service, including 10 years in the NHS and senior roles in various government departments and agencies.
His last executive role was as an Executive Director of Natural England, the government’s advisory and delivery body for the natural environment. At Natural England, Jim led for many years on landscape work, and helped to pioneer a new route to chartership for staff in the organisation.
Jim now spends his time working on his creative writing, and performing several non-executive roles including a role for his local NHS in the south-west London. He is also walking (slowly) England’s national trails.
Independent Trustee: Charles Young
Charles Young, who has been an independent trustee since 2015, retired as Investment Bursar and Fellow of Magdalen College Oxford in 2014.
His responsibilities at Magdalen covered the management of the college’s investment assets, which included commercial property, extensive holdings of agricultural land, and also development of the Oxford Science Park. This experience gave Charles a broad-based understanding of many of the issues which also concern the LI.
Prior to joining Magdalen, Charles spent more than 30 years working in commercial companies located across Europe serving the engineering and building materials markets.
In addition to being a trustee of the LI, Charles is currently vice-chair of Governors of Magdalen College School, Oxford, chair of the Management Committee of the Oxford Conservation Consortium, and serves as a trustee and adviser to a number of other charities.