North East & Cumbria Who's Who

Here you will find details of our committee.


Get in touch with the local committee e:

Peter Conlan, Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Peter is a Chartered Transportation Consultant at Cundall, based in the Newcastle upon Tyne office. He has over 10 years’ experience of working within the highways and transportation sector in both the public and private sectors.

Peter has expanded his technical knowledge base into practical examples by specialising in development planning and appraisal and in particular, is interested in the use and promotion of sustainable modes of development and transportation. 

He is an experienced project manager responsible for assessing the highway and transport implications of developments through the full project life cycle and planning application process.

Joanne Roberts, Vice Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbira

Joanne is a Chartered Engineer and has worked in the Local Authority Transportation Sector for 25 years.  Joanne graduated from the University of Teesside with a BEng (Hons) Degree in Civil Engineering and has worked in the traffic engineering, transport planning and highway development control areas.  Joanne leads a team of Professionals working to support the economic growth agenda, linking into strategic transport projects that are of regional importance.

Joanne has been located in the North East region her whole career and has worked from Technician level up to being a Service Manager, currently at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.  She has staffing responsibility along with budget management and project management duties in her current role. 

Supporting the Local Plan, Joanne has worked as part of the team to identify necessary infrastructure throughout the Borough to mitigate the effects of development on the transport network. This includes working with developers and stakeholders and providing advice to Council Members of Planning Committee.

Joanne has been a Member of CIHT since 2003 and is an Associate Member of the Chartered Management Institute.  Joanne has joined the CIHT North East region Committee in 2019 and is a STEM Ambassador promoting the Transportation career choice to young people.

Grace Smith, Junior Vice Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Grace is an Associate Director at Wood, based in their Newcastle office. She is a Chartered Civil Engineer with over 20 years’ experience specialising in transport planning and engineering projects for public and private sector clients in the UK and overseas. Her special interests are in future mobility, how transportation can help address climate change challenges, promote wellbeing and economic regeneration.

Grace graduated with a MSc in Transport Engineering and Operations from Newcastle University in 2000 after completing a BEng in Civil Engineering. She has worked on various highways, transport and regeneration projects including the infrastructure for the award winning Helix development (Science Central), Ashington North East Quarter and Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme. Prior to joining Wood, she worked for Mott MacDonald, Scott Wilson and JMP Consultants.

Nicola Hill, Ex-Officio Past Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Nicola is a Senior Transport Planner at Arup, based in the Stockton on Tees office. She has 15 years' transport planning experience and specialises in data analysis and GIS. Graduating from the University of Leeds with a Masters in Geography in 2003, Nicola joined JMP Consultants in Newcastle as a Transport Planner where she specialised in accessibility analysis and GIS. 

In 2007 Nicola joined Arup working in the Tees Valley primarily on development planning projects for both private and public sector clients. She gained the Transport Planning Professional (TPP) qualification in 2015. Nicola spent seven years on the Transport Planning Society Board, serving the last three years as Secretary, and joined the North East & Cumbria Committee in 2014, assisting with operations in the south of the region. In May 2017 she became Vice Chair for CIHT North East & Cumbria before serving as Chair until May 2021.  

Malcolm Smith, Honorary Treasurer, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Dagmara Stachelek, Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbria Young Professionals Committee

Benjamin Pollard, Elected Committee Member, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Ben is a Graduate Transport Planner at Milestone Transport Planning, based in Gateshead. He obtained an MSc in Transport Planning and Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University in 2018. His main area of work includes the preparation of Transport Assessments and Travel Plans to support planning applications, supported by other tasks including micro-simulation modelling and AutoCAD work.

Tim Speed, Ex-Officio Committee Member, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Tim has over 42 years’ experience and currently works in the field of pre-planning highways and transportation for developments.  He was previously involved in the design and project management of Trunk Road and local highway schemes.

Since graduating in Civil Engineering at Loughborough University in 1977, Tim has worked for Tyne & Wear County Council, Gateshead Council, W A Fairhurst & Partners and WSP, the latter two as a Technical Director. In 2010 he set up his own successful business.

Tim has been active within the CIHT since 1997 when he joined the North Eastern Branch Committee, where he was Recruitment Officer 1998-2002, Branch Chairman 2003-2004 and a Member of that Branch Committee and latterly of the North East & Cumbria Region Committee since 1997. He has been a Member of Council 2001-2007, 2008-2014 and 2016 -2019 and 2020 continuing, and continuously from 1998 has served at some time on each of the Membership Board, the Member Services Board, the Appian Trading Board, the Audit Committee, the Membership Applications Panel and the Self-Assessment Panel. He was Chair of the Membership Board and a Member of the Board of Trustees 2005-2007.

Darran Kitchener, Ex-Officio Past Chair, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Darran is an Associate Director at Milestone Transport Planning, based in Gateshead. As part of his role, Darran offers transportation, highways and planning advice to both public and private sector clients, from project inception, through masterplanning and design, planning permission (and as an Expert Witness, if required), to completion of the scheme on site.

Graduating with a BEng (hons) in Civil & Environmental Engineering in 2001 from Leeds University, his experience includes six years as a Highway Engineer for Halcrow (now Jacobs) on the trunk road and motorway network, before moving to consultancy with Wardell Armstrong, Jacobs and latterly Fairhurst, before opening the Milestone office in 2015. Spending time seconded to York, Sunderland and Northumberland Councils, as well as his experience working in the private sector, Darran has experienced all aspects of the Highways & Transportation sector.

Paul Mckenna, Elected Committee Member, CIHT North East & Cumrbia

Paul is a Chartered Principal Engineer at CAPITA, based in the North Tyneside office. He has over 13 years experience working in both the private and public sector. In addition to Project Managing various schemes ranging from Public Realm to highway design, Paul is an experienced Road Safety Auditor. Graduating from Newcastle University in 2004, he then continued his studies in Civil Engineering at Teesside University before returning to Newcastle in 2015 to complete his Masters Degree in Transport Planning and Business Management.  

Paul started his career with A-one Integrated Highway Services working on Scheme Identification Studies and presenting to Highways England. He then joined Northumberland County Council where he worked for 6 years developing his skills in Traffic Management schemes and Traffic Regulation Orders. He spent a year with AECOM gaining experience in traffic modelling and road safety techniques before moving to CAPITA where he has been for the last 4 years. During his time at CAPITA, he has completed over100 Road Safety Audits for various clients across the country, ranging from cycle and NMU improvements, to traffic signal junctions and major highway works. He is a member of the Society of Road Safety Auditors and recently attained the Highways England Certificate of Competency as a Road Safety Auditor.  Paul has been a full member of the CIHT since 2008, joining the CIHT North East & Cumbria Region committee in 2017.

Phil Freestone, CIHT Regional Panel, CIHT North East & Cumbria

Phil is an Associate Director at WSP, based in the Newcastle office. He was elected as a Fellow of the CIHT in 2021 and was the inaugural Chairperson of the North East and Cumbria Region in 2015/16.

Phil heads WSP’s Active Travel and Sustainable Transport team across the Midlands, North and Scotland, leading a team of multi-disciplinary experts in planning, design, economics and appraisal.

He has been a CIHT committee member since 2009, holding a number of roles including Membership Officer, Chair of the Young Professionals committee and currently sites on CIHT’s Regions Panel.
Phil graduated from Newcastle University with an MSc in Transport Planning and Policy in 2006.