Planning & environment

Our planning solicitors advise a range of private organisations, developers, landowners and investors on all aspects of planning law from various impact assessments of sites through to enforcement proceedings.  We also advise local authorities and other public bodies on the promotion of regeneration and infrastructure schemes. 

Our planning lawyers advise on the whole planning process with which clients are faced when dealing with the world of planning and its myriad vagaries.  Please see below for further details on the sorts of matters with which the team deals. 

Our planning & environmental expertise

Planning strategy

When clients approach us regarding whether or not land they own or are seeking to purchase is suitable for development, we liaise with specialist planning consultants who are able to appraise national and local planning policies and will contact your local Council to discuss whether any such development is likely to be acceptable to the Council.  We also deal with the planning aspects of strategic land issues in conjunction with our experiences Residential Development Team. 

Or team’s experience means we are able to offer representation at meetings of the Council’s planning committee at which your application will be debated.  

Obtaining planning permission

Planning Agreements

As you will be aware, once planning permission is obtained the value of land (in most cases) dramatically increases: that is why we assist you or point you in the direction of experienced and user-friendly planning consultants to help you get “the ticket”.  As planning lawyers, it is our role, to ensure that your interests are protected when you enter into planning agreements (more commonly known as “S106 Agreements”) in respect of the land.  S106 Agreements, in essence, set out various obligations which the landowner / developer (and their successors in title) are bound by. S106 agreements can vary but, usually, will involve the payment of financial contributions to your local council / the County Council as well as ensuring that any development provides public open space and affordable housing.  As a team, we have many years’ experience of dealing with S106 Agreements and there is little, if anything, that we have not seen in these.

Community Infrastructure Levy

The Community Infrastructure Levy (“CIL”) was introduced in 2010 and, in essence, is a way that Councils can levy charges on developments where there will be an appreciable impact on local infrastructure as a result of the development.  A lot of Councils are not able to levy CIL yet because they do not have the required Charging Schedule (which lists those infrastructure projects for which Councils require funding through CIL) but our team is able to advise on all aspects of CIL.     

Highways and Infrastructure Agreements

Practically all developments will require the provision of infrastructure be this estate roads, drainage, water, etc.  Such agreements usually result in the requisite statutory authority (for highways, water, etc) adopting the services laid out as part of the development.  Our experienced team is able to assist with the drafting and completing of these agreements and has worked with many of the statutory bodies and, therefore, has a good familiarity with their standard requirements. 

Planning Appeals

There are situations when Councils refuse planning permission for proposed developments, or other applications.  Such refusals can be for a number of reasons such as non-accordance with national or local planning policy.  There are also situations when a Council fails to determine a planning application within a certain period of time and the applicant appeals on the grounds of non-determination by the Council.  A planning appeal is conducted via one of three formats being:

1.    Written representations.  This is usually conducted wholly by our team.

2.    Hearing.  Our team has experience of representing clients at hearings which give the applicant a chance to address a planning inspector on important issues. 

3.    Public Inquiry.  Public inquiries are usually conducted by experience planning barristers (a number of whom we have very good relationships with) and there will be cross-examination of witnesses involved in the planning appeal.  Our team project-manages the whole inquiry process. 

Which format is the most appropriate for the particular matter in hand will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate (the body responsible for the running and determination of planning appeals).

Judicial review and statutory challenges under s288 and s289 Town and Country Planning Act 1990

We regularly act for clients who wish to judicially review a decision of a Local Planning Authority granting permission.  Judicial Review is a complicated and procedural process which can cost quite a lot of money and, given that any claim needs to be made within 6 weeks of the act giving rise to the judicial review claim (normally the granting of planning permission), decisions need to made quickly.  Our team is experienced in advising on the merits of pursuing a claim for Judicial Review as well as actually running the process. 

Our team also has experience of acting for people who wish to challenge the decision of the Secretary of State (usually acting through one of his Planning Inspectors) to grant / refuse planning permission on appeal.  Such challenges are made under S288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  The process is, in some ways, similar to Judicial Review but is governed by statue (and not the common law).  Like Judicial Review, one has 6 weeks from the date of the Secretary of State’s decision in which to bring a challenge.  

Compulsory Purchase Order

The team  has considerable experience of site assembly, both by negotiation and, whether for the acquiring authority or for its development partner,  Registered Providers , land owners and tenants the compulsory purchase process including advise on process, objecting to proposals and settlement of statutory compensation, advance payment agreement and agreement on liabilities and Transport and Works Act orders on mainly light rail and road schemes, Town Centre Redevelopment Projects. Find out more

Planning enforcement

Our planning team regularly deals with enforcement issues, most commonly appeals against enforcements notices (under S289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990).  Like a claim for Judicial Review, permission is required from the High Court to bring a challenge against an enforcement notice.  Unlike Judicial Review, one has only 28 days from the date of receipt of the enforcement notice (as opposed to the actual date of the enforcement notice itself) to bring a challenge.

We also deal with the drafting of Certificates of Lawfulness which are confirmations by the local planning authority that whatever has been built on one’s property / use certain buildings have been put to is lawful.  This can be a way of assisting with any potential enforcement notices.  

Other planning matters

Our team regularly deals with many other planning matters including:

  • Listed buildings and heritage issues;
  • Footpath and highways and other rights of way matters;
  • Compulsory Purchase Orders;
  • Drafting letters of objection to planning applications;
  • Environmental Impact Assessments;
  • Strategic advice in respect of site assembly for residential / commercial development;
  • Advice on allocations and modifications  / challenges to Local Plans.

Knowledge & insight

Legal Articles

Housing & Planning Act 2016 – Summary

After much to-ing and fro-ing between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Housing & Planning Act 2016 (“HPA”) received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016. We have provided a summary of the key points in the Housing & Planning Act 2016 below.

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