Chelgate Local Adds Issue Management and Sustainability Communications Expertise

Chelgate Local, the leading public affairs specialist for planners and developers, has further strengthened its team with new public relations and stakeholder engagement expertise for clients working in greenbelt, rural, and protected landscapes.

Jonathan Ray, a Chelgate senior advisor in issue and reputation management, has joined the firm from National Parks UK where he led external engagement, national campaigns, and media relations. He was previously Head of Communications at Oxford University.

Ray has led communications and public affairs for both large scale urban and greenfield infrastructure projects both at home and overseas. This has included new build universities in the Gulf and Asia, advanced research institutes and laboratories, major student housing developments, sports facilities, and public art installations. On behalf of the fifteen National Parks of the UK he oversaw campaigns with a strong focus on sustainability issues, planning and development in rural communities, land management, nature restoration, and management of the rural tourism economy.

Earlier this year the Government revealed plans to extend certain permitted development rights into protected landscapes. The Guardian recently reported comments by the chair of Natural England, stating that development and protection for green spaces and wildlife “should not be seen as opposites”.

Michael Hardware, who leads Chelgate Local said: “Landscape protections are absolutely essential – but well-explained development projects which take vital account of biodiversity and sustainability can make progress, enhancing rural communities by creating homes or economic opportunity. I am very pleased that Jonathan will be working with our clients. Few issues inflame public and political feeling more than development which impacts green spaces. Campaigners are impassioned, and developers without positive engagement strategies and strong, credible narratives in support of nature recovery and the environment can quickly come unstuck.