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Who Represents Who

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Carson McDowell’s highly regarded planning team has been particularly active in the infrastructure and energy sectors, handling planning judicial reviews and obtaining regulatory approval on road constructions, exploratory drilling and electricity pylon applications, amongst other projects. Highlights for 2016 included acting for Lagan Group in a £100m appeal against an enforcement notice in relation to the extraction of sand from Lough Neagh; the team has also been advising on a related judicial review instigated by Friends of the Earth. On the non-contentious side the team advised the Port of Belfast on a planning application for a £250m mixed-use development, which will include housing, retail, car parks, hotels and offices. Gary McGhee leads the department and is highly regarded. Associate Grant McBurney is another key figure.

A ‘go-to firm’ for planning matters Cleaver Fulton Rankin fields a team that is ‘best in class’ when it comes to handling planning applications and judicial reviews across a range of sectors, including energy, infrastructure and real estate. Belfast City Airport is a key client, which the team is advising on an application to vary current planning agreements, which involved a public inquiry. The firm also acted for Intu Properties on various High Court and Court of Appeal actions relating to planning permissions and zoning for the Sprucefield Retail Park development. Public sector clients include Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. Practice head Karen Blair is a ‘premier environmental and planning lawyer’.

TLT has a ‘strong Northern Ireland offering’ with particular strength in environmental matters within the energy, manufacturing and real estate sectors. In a showcase of the firm’s planning expertise, the team acted for Full Circle Power on its objection to the Arc21 waste-to-energy plant on the outskirts of Belfast. The team also regularly acts on planning matters and recently advised Braidwater on its planning application for the development of a £50m housing project. On the contentious side, the team is representing Neptune Developments in a challenge to plans for a manufacturing facility. Practice head Andrew Ryan is praised for being ‘approachable and very easy to work with’.

The planning practice at Tughans has wide-ranging sector expertise and a track record of advice on major projects within the infrastructure, utility and energy sectors. Maria O’Loan leads the practice and has been acting for Apple in judicial reviews and public inquiries relating to the construction of a new data centre in the Republic of Ireland. The group is also advising the Ulster Council Gaelic Athletic Association on the redevelopment of Casement Park; planning consent for this development was quashed following judicial review, resulting in ongoing environmental advice for the new application. Other major pieces of work include advising on a £23m anaerobic digestion plant, assisting with the development of 14 wind farms across Northern Ireland, and handling a number of matters related to transportation hubs.

A&L Goodbody focuses on regulatory and non-contentious work within the real estate sector. Recent highlights include advising Dalata Hotel group on licensing and planning applications for the development of a hotel in Belfast’s city centre. The department also has a strong track record of advice to councils; recent work includes acting for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on a judicial review concerning an unauthorised car park. Property partner Mark Blair leads the team.

Arthur Cox Belfast regularly handles planning-related judicial reviews and major infrastructure and entertainment projects. It also acts for universities in applications to extend campuses. Real estate partner Alastair Todd is best known for his representation of housing associations, hotels and energy facilities in planning applications. Catriona Gibson is a highly regarded litigator with an extensive track record in judicial review proceedings.

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