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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > Scotland > Real estate > Planning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



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Brodies LLP is 'one of the leading planning law firms in Scotland', and is 'particularly well regarded among planning authorities' for whom 'its presence on a mandate inspires confidence'. Practice head Neil Collar, associate Alison Polson and senior solicitor Victoria Lane 'have an excellent awareness of planning matters' and they all deliver 'clear and consistent advice'. Karen Hamilton, associate Lee Murphy and managing associate Niall McLean are also highly recommended. The group provides a full service on the contentious and non-contentious issues arising at every stage of the planning process, ranging from early-stage strategic advice to planning inquiry advocacy and Court of Session appeals. A particular area of strength is in drafting section 75 planning obligations, including provisions on continuing liability, modification and discharge, and decommissioning bonds for minerals and wind farm developments. Collar and Lane are preparing the terms of a section 75 obligation on behalf of Park of Keir Partnership in relation to the 'Murray Legacy' project in Dunblane. Collar and Lane are also assisting Moda Living and Apache Capital Partners with the planning aspects of a proposed Build to Rent scheme at Springside in Edinburgh. Grangemouth Renewable Energy Limited, Boralex and Candleriggs Limited are other notable clients.

Burness Paull LLP's 'efficient and knowledgeable team' is led by 'planning guru' Elaine Farquharson-Black, who has 'great in-depth knowledge of the law, has great commercial skills and is an all-round player at the top of her game'. Farquharson-Black recently represented Elsick Development Company Limited at the Court of Session and Supreme Court in a landmark legal challenge of supplementary guidance on the Strategic Transport Fund, which has led to a proposed change to the law on planning obligations.  Farquharson-Black is also the lead adviser to Aberdeen Football Club on the planning application for a new £50m community stadium. Elsewhere, the group is highly active in assisting housebuilding clients with the planning aspects of large-scale residential development projects throughout Scotland (including associated infrastructure to support these projects, such as schools, transport and education facilities). Clients in this space include Taylor Wimpey, Stewart Milne Group and Dandara. Craig Whelton and senior associate Emma Dewar are advising West Craigs Limited on the promotion of a proposed new development at Maybury in West Edinburgh, consisting of 1400 new homes, as well as retail and medical facilities, and a new primary school. The group's energy-related work is gaining momentum, with it attracting mandates from clients such as EDF and Airvolution. Whelton and Dewar recently acted for Skylark (a joint venture between Ecotricity and Skanska) at a public local inquiry into the proposed development of a 19 turbine wind park at Upper Sonachan in Argyll & Bute. In the oil and gas sector, the firm acts as the sole planning adviser to Total E&P UK. Senior associate Theresa Hunt is recommended.

Morton Fraser has a sizeable base of public sector clients for whom it provides the gamut of planning-related legal services. Douglas Milne and associate Ursula Currie are acting for Scottish Canals in the promotion of a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to acquire the final part of the Forth & Clyde canal, which is in third party ownership; they recently represented the client at a public inquiry into objections to the CPO. Milne is also representing Transport Scotland in a public inquiry over the proposed dualling of the A96 trunk road from Inverness to Aberdeen. In a particularly high-profile matter, Milne, Rory Alexander and Currie represented Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority (SDPA) in the landmark Supreme Court challenge by Elsick Development Company Limited over SDPA's Supplementary Guidance on contributions to a Strategic Transport Fund. The firm also has a strong pipeline of work from private sector development and investment clients. Kenneth Carruthers is acting as the lead adviser to Parabola Properties Limited on the extension to Edinburgh Park. Carruthers also acts as the strategic planning adviser to Tesco, and Intu Properties Plc and Diageo are other key clients. Senior associates Susan Leslie and Lisa Dromgoole are also recommended.

Pinsent Masons LLP has 'a very proactive, constructive and practical focus on the service and advice that it provides'. Led by Jennifer Ballantyne, the team assists clients from Scotland and throughout the UK with the entire ambit of contentious and non-contentious planning matters. The firm has a particularly first-rate reputation in the consenting of large energy and infrastructure projects, as evidenced by the fact that Gordon McCreath is advising Beatrice Offshore Wind Limited on the consenting aspects of its £2.6bn 750MW Beatrice offshore wind farm. In the residential development sector, the group is experienced in the planning aspects of large-scale developments; Jacqueline Harris, Rodney Whyte and senior associate Fiona MacGregor recently assisted The Pilkington Trust (in conjunction with Stewart Milne Group) with obtaining planning permission for the development of Almond Valley Village, which will consist of 1500 new homes, and various school, leisure and retail facilities. Ballantyne's team also advises clients such as CALA, Barratt Homes and Ashfield Land on planning appeals and planning agreements. The minerals sector is another generator of planning work for the group; clients in this area include Aggregate Industries and Patersons Quarries. In the transport sector, McCreath is part of a cross-office team, which is advising Highways England on a highways project to upgrade the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down. Gary McGovern is another name to note.

Shepherd and Wedderburn's market-leading reputation is underscored by its portfolio of high-end work, with particular strengths in industries such as energy, residential development and retail. The team, which is equally strong in high-profile contentious and non-contentious planning matters, is jointly led by Ewan MacLeod and Colin Innes (who chairs the Law Society of Scotland Planning Accreditation Committee). MacLeod and senior associate Fraser Mitchell recently assisted Taylor Wimpey and CALA Homes with obtaining planning permission, and successfully represented the clients at a related judicial review, over the development of sites at Maidenhill in Newton Mearns. MacLeod and Mitchell also defended CALA Homes at a judicial review challenge raised by Jordanhill Community Council over the proposed redevelopment of the former Jordanhill College Campus. In the renewable energy sector, Innes and Scott McCallum are acting for Moray Offshore Windfarm (East) Limited in the planning aspects of the 1,116MW Moray East offshore wind development in the Moray Firth. In another matter, MacLeod advised Brown & Mason on a consenting strategy, which was agreed with Fife Council, to faciliate the demolition of Scottish Power's coal-fired Longannet power station. Elsewhere, clients such as British Land and Sainsbury's instruct the firm on all of their Scottish projects.

Anderson Strathern's practice head Alastair McKie, who is accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a planning law specialist, and is 'exceptionally good with clients'. The firm is a first port of call for planning advice from a wide range of public and private sector organisations, including developers, local authorities, central and local governments and utility providers. McKie is handling the planning aspects of a multimillion pound development in Woking town centre for Bandstand Square Developments. In another highlight, McKie recently assisted Peter D. Stirling Limited and the Trustees of the I.D. Meiklam Trust with a planning application in relation to the circa £260m Mossend International Railfreight Park development. In the renewable energy sector, the team is acting for Ross Estates Company (which is owned by Mohamed Al Fayed) at a public local inquiry, which relates to its opposition to a proposed waste to energy CHP plant in Invergordon. Audrey Cameron, Fiona Stephen and senior associate Kirsty Slee are other members of the group.

CMS takes a lead role in high-profile planning matters, where it acts for many of the most significant players in Scotland; its client roster includes names such as SSE Plc, Aberdeen Standard and Scottish Water. Its first-rate team includes energy and infrastructure sector expert Robin Hutchison, who is active in both contentious and non-contentious planning matters, and 'provides excellent advice on very complex issues'. Hutchison, senior associate Mark McMurray and others recently acted for Inch Cape Offshore Limited in its successful defence of a judicial review challenge brought by the RSPB over consent for one of the world's first floating offshore wind farms (Kincardine Offshore Wind Farm). Clients also now benefit from the experience of June Gilles, who joined in January 2018 from Davidson Chalmers LLP, and has more than 30 years of experience of planning and compulsory purchase experience in the public and private sectors. Gilles' specialisms are in renewable energy, student accommodation, and rural and residential developments. Ann Faulds, who heads up the team, is working with McMurray to advise TH Real Estate on the planning, compulsory purchase and roads matters associated with the £1bn Edinburgh St James redevelopment project.

DLA Piper Scotland LLP's Sandy Telfer is a leading expert in the planning aspects of energy-related developments, particularly onshore unconventional gas developments. Telfer, Alistair Drummond, legal director Michael Greig and others are acting for INEOS in a judicial review application arising from the Scottish Government's ban on onshore unconventional gas. In a cross-border energy-related matter, Telfer and Greig are also working with members of the Birmingham office to assist the same client with appeals over the non-determination of two planning applications for exploratory gas development in Rotherham and Derbyshire. Wind farm developments are another area of energy-related planning activity for the firm. In the housing sector, Telfer, Greig and others have a wealth of experience acting for housebuilders and planning authorities in development plan examinations, appeals and court challenges. Greig represented Hallam Land Management and Commercial Estates Group at a housing appeal over a development at Cambusbarron in Stirling. Greig is also acting for Royal Bank of Scotland in relation to a proposed housing development at Millburn Tower, adjacent to its Edinburgh headquarters. Another standout highlight involved representing Aberdeenshire Council at the Supreme Court over the Aberdeen City and Shire Strategic Transport Fund.

MacRoberts LLP's team provides strategic advice to private developers and public sector clients on complex planning applications associated with large-scale and high-value developments. It also undertakes advocacy work in planning appeals, statutory appeals and judicial reviews. Consultant Martin Sales and senior associate Keith Campbell are acting for M-I Drilling Fluids UK Limited in the planning and environmental aspects of the development of a deep barite mine in the Loch Tummel National Scenic Area of Perthshire, which includes assisting with the consenting strategy and environmental impact assessment. Sales is also representing Drum Hollistan Renewables LLP in public local inquiries into the Drum Hollistan and nearby Limekiln wind farm applications. The firm also has strong specialisms in areas such as retail, commercial property, harbours and marine planning, and roads.

Addleshaw Goddard incorporated HBJ Gateley's planning offering, following the merger between the two firms in 2017. It has since expanded at associate level. The practice is led by Sarah Baillie, who is accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a planning law specialist, and is also a chartered town planner with membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Key areas of focus for the firm in planning matters are in retail and leisure, development and regeneration (particularly housing and the private rented sector/build to rent), and transport, energy and utilities. Baillie's team acts as the sole planning advisers to Aldi in its store acquisition and development programme in Scotland; it recently defended the client against judicial review proceedings brought by Asda over proposed development in Dundee. It also recently assisted Pentland Studios Limited with the planning aspects of a proposed film studio complex at Straiton. Scotland Gas Network Plc, Staycity and Burcote Wind Group are other active clients.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart's Caroline Court has expertise in residential and commercial development, where she advises developers on the property and planning aspects of projects. Stephanie Mackenzie, who recently joined from CMS, is also knowledgeable about planning issues in residential development projects. Another key figure is Andy Drane, who is assisting The RJ Tyser Overseas Settlement with planning issues associated with the proposed development of 900 houses, a primary school and an access road at a site located on the outskirts of Inverness.  Court, Drane and others are acting for Story Homes in all aspects (including planning) of a 230 unit housing development in Biggar. Other sectors where the firm generates planning work include hospitality and leisure, renewable energy, student accommodation and retail. Peel Group, JW Muir Group Plc and Kingsford Developments Limited are other notable clients. Director Jacqueline Cook joined as the head of planning from Pinsent Masons LLP, succeeding former head June Gilles, who departed for CMS.

Dentons' practice, which is led by director Gillian Simpson, is highly active in advising developers of residential and mixed-use developments on projects across Scotland. Simpson is acting for a consortium - consisting of CALA Homes (West) Limited, Lynch Homes and Abbey Developments (Jackton) Limited - in the negotiation of the section 75 obligation, and in relation to other planning matters, for a proposed development encompassing 1200 new homes and associated infrastructure in East Kilbride. Simpson and Fiona Gordon are also assisting Avant Homes (Scotland) Limited with planning issues associated with a large residential development at Mydub Farm in Denny. In addition to undertaking standalone work, the team supports other practices in transactional matters; a recent highlight involved working with the property team to assist Multi Let Global Investments with the acquisition (and related financing) of Morgan Stanley's Scottish headquarters building in Glasgow. The group's capabilities in contentious planning matters, such as appeals and judicial reviews, round off the practice.

At DWF, Moray Thomson leads a team, which serves clients across a number of sectors on planning and consenting matters. Energy is one of the firm's core sector strengths in this space, with clients benefiting from the experience of associates Magdalena MacLean and Steven Stewart, who worked in-house on secondment at ScottishPower Renewables and SP Energy Networks respectively. Thomson and MacLean are acting for SP Transmission Plc in the planning aspects of the Crystal Rig substation extension. Elsewhere, Thomson and MacLean recently advised Loudoun Woods Homes Limited on a 'called-in' application for planning permission in principle for leisure and tourism development within the grounds of the Loudoun Castle Estate. Another highlight involved acting for Moda Living in the consenting strategy for a 17 storey PRS development at the former Strathclyde Police headquarters at Holland Street in Glasgow. Other clients include New River Retail, Jaguar Land Rover and Skene Group.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP's planning team is going from strength to strength, following the promotion to partner of Isobell Reid. In addition, Colin Hamilton also made partner, and then became the head of the practice. Active in both contentious and non-contentious matters, the firm's core focus is in its work for landowners, housebuilders, developers, market participants in the energy industry and public sector entities. Hamilton, solicitor advocate John Stirling and Fiona Cameron recently acted for Seagreen Wind Energy in a high-profile judicial review challenge brought by the RSPB over the development of the Forth and Tay offshore wind farms. In another matter, Cameron and Hamilton advised No Kingsford Stadium Limited on a potential judicial review of the decision to grant planning consent for Aberdeen FC's new stadium, which is to be built on greenbelt land.

Harper Macleod LLP has a sizeable client following of planning authorities (it acts for eight out of the 34 in Scotland). The firm also acts for a number of regulatory bodies; clients include Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. In addition to undertaking planning-related transactional and advisory work, the firm also has significant involvement in planning appeals, inquiries and judicial reviews. Peter Ferguson and Jennifer Jack recently represented Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) at a public inquiry over the development of 1500 homes, associated community facilities and infrastructure. They also represented Historic Environment Scotland in a public inquiry over the refusal of planning permission for the erection of Cnoc an Eas wind farm, a 13 turbine wind energy development near Glenurquhart, Inverness-shire. The team also acts for developers of renewable energy projects. Rod McKenzie has left to become legal counsel at the Scottish Professional Football League.

Ledingham Chalmers LLP, which is noted for its strengths in the planning aspects of wind farm and housing developments, acts for multiple stakeholders in contentious and non-contentious planning matters, including landowners, developers, objectors and planning authorities. Planning practice head David Scott works alongside partner Stephen Morrice (among other members of the commercial property team) and senior associate Rebecca Walker, who has significant experience of contentious planning work, particularly wind farm inquiries. Scott and others are advising clients such as Kirkwood Homes Limited and Claymore Homes Limited as the landowner and/or application on multiple section 75 agreements across various development sites. Dandara Group, Bancon Developments Limited and Cornerstone Community Care are among other clients.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP recently added additional resource to its practice by hiring associate Paul Adams to its Inverness office from Stronachs LLP. Adams, who has previous experience of working at the Highland Council, is knowledgeable about the planning aspects of renewable energy projects, retail and housing developments, and compulsory purchase orders.  Led by Fraser Gillies, the team advises on all aspects of planning applications, appeals and inquiries. Associate Nicola Martin, who is dual-qualified to practise in Scotland and England and Wales, has taken a lead role on a number of the firm's matters recently; highlights included acting for Renewable Energy Systems Limited in the Culachy wind farm public inquiry, and advising the same client on a planning appeal over the Aberarder wind farm project.

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