Meet The Team

James Whilding
Rural Planning Director

James is Managing Director and Marketing Director and responsible for the Western region office.

A qualified Chartered Surveyor (RICS) and Fellow of the British Institute of Agricultural Consultants (BIAC), James specialises in planning and business consultancy including work relating to agricultural dwellings, asset maximisation and diversification and is a lead consultant for our intensive agriculture (pigs and poultry) work. 

James is also a lead contact for the NFU and CLA.

Anthony Atkinson
Anthony Atkinson
Rural Planning Director

Anthony is Finance Director and Company Secretary of Acorus and takes responsibility for projects in the North & Midlands. 

He has numerous years of experience in planning consultancy for agricultural development and farm diversification schemes.  He has extensive knowledge of the complex processes involved from initial planning investigations, building and design requirements through to the submission of detailed planning applications.  Anthony also undertakes property sales and estate management.

Anthony holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Land Management from Harper Adams Agricultural College, he is a professional member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV).

Mike Bamforth
Rural Design Director

Mike is Operations Director (HR and IT) with Acorus and takes responsibility for the National Building Design Team and the Anglia and South East office.


Mike is a qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Building and is highly experienced in rural design projects, housing and diversification projects; in particular the conversion of traditional farm buildings into residential, tourism and commercial uses.

David Ellis
David Ellis
Rural Planning and Design Associate

David has extensive experience in rural building design, planning and project management. He has been involved in a wide range of major building projects from inception to completion including crop store facilities, livestock units, new farmsteads, new garden centres and conversion of traditional buildings.

He also advises on general planning matters including work related to dwelling appraisals and is our national lead consultant regarding waste handling and composting facilities.

Laura Wall
Rural Planning Associate

Laura graduated from Harper Adams University College in 2007 with a BSc(Hons) degree in Rural Enterprise and Land Management.  Since joining Acorus she has worked within the rural planning team and progressed to becoming an Associate within the company.

As a Rural Chartered Surveyor, Laura specialises in planning and appeals consultancy, including work relating to agricultural/rural worker dwellings, conversions, change of use, diversification, occupancy conditions, certificates of lawful use and equine work.

 Brian Barrow
Brian Barrow
Rural Planning
BSc (Hons), MRICS

Brian is responsible for the Central and East team.  

A qualified Chartered Surveyor (RICS), Brian specialises in planning consultancy and handles planning appeals, agricultural occupancy conditions, intensive livestock developments and equine related work.  His work also includes the preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).  

Brian leads the property sales work within Acorus and advises clients on how to maximise their property value prior to marketing and sale.

Julie Milne

Julie is a highly experienced finance systems administrator. 

Louise Gregory
Rural Planning

Louise works out of the Bury St Edmunds office and handles planning applications, planning appeals, certificates of lawfulness and GPDO 28 day notices for Acorus clients.

Louise also manages Environmental Impact Assessments and Agricultural Occupancy Conditions and has a solid knowledge base of all planning matters.

With several years service at Acorus both as a Rural Planning Consultant and a Project Manager, Louise has extensive knowledge of the business, its clients and dealing with local and national authorities.

Leanne Jeffreys
Project Manager

Leanne manages all our regional properties subject to agricultural occupancy conditions and deals with the submission of planning applications where appropriate liaising closely with Acorus consultants and monitoring the progress of projects.

She also handles all our national properties and is responsible for their marketing and sales.

She assists the Sales & Marketing Director with managing the company’s marketing plan, particularly advertising.

Additionally, she manages the office and is responsible for the regional Key Account contracts and Local Authority contracts.

Matt How
Rural Planning and Business

Matt gained a degree in Agriculture from Newcastle Upon Tyne University in 1988. Following employment in practical agriculture as a Farm Manager, Matt has since worked as a Business Consultant for some of the leading farm consultancy firms in the UK.

Matt has extensive knowledge of business and financial issues within the Agricultural Industry gained by completing work for farmers, agricultural companies, research institutions and other corporate clients including Local Government Agencies and the Banks.

Further work experience includes development and implementation of business strategy to improve profitability by sustainable development and Matt's advice on business diversification issues is frequently sought from planning to project implementation. Matt is also called upon as an expert witness in his field and keeps abreast of the constantly evolving UK and European agricultural policies and their affect on farming businesses within the UK.

Roland Thomas
Rural Planning

Roland is one of our leading consultants for agricultural occupancy conditions related work.

His experience as an Agricultural Surveyor began in Leeds where he undertook a range of agricultural and rural planning projects. He also has experience of residential surveys and valuations and now specialises in property consultancy.

Roland's expert witness experience is often required at public planning inquiries.

Rose Haines
Administration and Human Resources

Rose is a member of our Corporate and Government Section, based at the Wolverhampton office. She provides administrative support in various areas including human resources, client account and the company car scheme.

Sid Richards
Rural Design

Sid is a Chartered Architect and works on the design of buildings from inception to completion on site.

Projects he has worked on have varied from new houses and commercial offices to equestrian work stables, new farm buildings and conversion of traditional buildings.

Henry Doble
Rural Planning
BSc (Hons)

Henry works within the South East team of Acorus based at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Graduating from the Royal Agricultural College with a BSc Hons degree in Rural Land Management, he has a keen interest in rural surveying.

Henry previously worked for Cooper and Tanner, landed property professionals and auctioneers in Somerset where he was involved in planning applications and other planning matters including a water pipe compensation claim.

Olivia Hazell
Olivia Hazell
Rural Planning
MSc (Hons)

Olivia is based in Oxfordshire and also covers Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire areas. Olivia handles outline and ful planning applications, change of uses, GPDO 28 day notices, certificate of lawfulness, enforcement matters, planning appeals, agricultural occupancy conditions and diversification projects for Acorus clients, and has a solid knowledge base of all planning matters, working within the rural planning team. 

Olivia gained an Undergraduate degree in Human Geography and City and Regional Planning from Cardiff University in 2009 and a Masters degree in Spatial planning at Oxford Brookes in 2013. With four years’ experience previously as a planning officer at both Cherwell and South Northamptonshire District Councils, Olivia has extensive knowledge of local and national policies.

Olivia has extensive knowledge of business and financial issues within the Farming and Agricultural Industry gained by involvement on her parents' and husband's farming businesses.

Nathaniel Morris
Rural Design
BA (Hons)

Nathaniel joined Acorus in February 2016 working out of our South West office as part of the rural design team and has extensive experience within the construction industry. 

After completing his degree in Architecture at the University of Kent, Nathaniel spent time working within the steel reinforcement and timber engineering industries before making the move to Architecture. He has been fortunate enough to play a key role in numerous high specification developments and has extensive experience with Class Q permitted development barn conversions.

Nathaniel is a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and is currently a member of The Design Review Panel, providing impartial expert advice to both applicants and local authorities on design issues in relation to important new developments.

Natasha Collins
Administration and Marketing

Having relocated in 2016, Natasha was appointed in the role of Administrator for the South West Office.

She has the responsibility of being the first point of contact for many new clients, dealing with a wide range of council's regarding planning applications, adhering to data protection laws and various other adhoc office duties.

In addition to the above; having input in both local and national marketing, including the company website. 

Also liasing closely with directors to ensure a smoothly run business.

Ian Hopkins
Rural Design

Ian has over 25 years experience in varying sizes of Architectural practices within the Midlands and the South West, currently based at our Exeter Office as Senior Architectural Technician.

He has experience in projects ranging  from one off houses to factory units and all types of buildings in between, preparing drawings from Planning through to Building Regulations and then onto Construction on site.

Debbie Locke
Rural Design Graduate

Debbie works within the South West office as a member of the design team, having graduated from Arts University Bournemouth in 2017 with a BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design.

Since her graduation, she has been involved with designing and drawing up a wide range of rural properties.

She grew up in the Devonshire countryside and looks forward to developing her knowledge and helping the team.

Sarah Hopkins
Planning Assistant

Sarah is part of the South West rural planning team.  Sarah's role is to assist consultants and to facilitate planning applications.

Vicky Pike
Planning Assistant

Vicky is responsible for monitoring all of the planning applications submitted by our East and South East team.  This includes ensuring applications are registered together with liaising with planning officers and clients to resolve queries during the planning process.

Emma Baker
Rural Design
BA (Hons)

Emma works within the South East office as a member of the drawing and design team, having graduated from Oxford school of Architecture (OBU) in 2018 with a BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture.

Since her graduation, she has been involved with designing and drawing up a wide range of rural properties, new houses and subdivisions in 2D and 3D.

She grew up in the Suffolk countryside on an arable working farm.  Emma looks forward to developing her knowledge on planning and design while helping the team.

Stuart Woodward
Rural Design

Stuart has over 35 years’ experience in varying sizes of Architectural practices in the South West, currently based at our Exeter Office as Senior Architectural Technician.

He has experience in a wide range of projects from one off and volume housing to education and healthcare buildings, preparing drawings from Planning through to Building Regulations and then onto Construction on site.