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Excellent planning firmBlake Morgan LLPhas a great reputation in the field’, and has recently expanded its profile in the public sector with the addition of clients such as the Welsh government, Milford Haven Port Authority and Swansea City Council. The firm also continues to be strong in the residential sector, advising on both contentious and non-contentious issues including judicial reviews and High Court appeals. Recent highlights include acting for Cooper Estates Strategic Land in a High Court appeal against Wokingham Borough Council concerning refused planning permission for a major housing development, and advising Telereal Services on a range of matters with regards to a residential unit scheme in Ealing. The ‘terrificGuthrie McGruer heads the practice and is ‘hugely experienced and practical’. Sara Hanrahan is the other key partner.

Cripps LLP is ‘outstanding in every respect’ and is recognised for its expertise in the housebuilding sector, advising a range of builders and housing associations on complex planning matters, and increasingly on judicial reviews. The firm is also active in the retail, leisure and renewable energy industries, and has handled a number of bespoke projects over the last year. Recent work includes advising Liberty Property Trust on planning application for a new mixed-use community in North Horsham, and acting for housebuilders Persimmon Homes and Bovis Homes in a planning strategy and section 106 agreement regarding a major urban edge development, a project valued at an excess of £20m. Jason Towell heads the practice; ‘the depth of knowledge and experience he brings to the table is always combined with speed and efficiency, which allows for a first-class service’.

DMH Stallard LLP provides ‘an excellent level of legal and planning expertise’, and ‘enjoys a good reputation in the market, with a strong and loyal set of clients’. The practice advises on the full range of planning matters (including site promotion, applications and appeals) and is notably active in the residential and leisure development sectors. Other areas of expertise include section 106 agreements, highways and infrastructure projects, planning enforcement and matters involving Assets of Community Value. Key clients include Crest Nicholson, London Borough of Enfield and Village Developments. The firm recently represented the last client in a challenge to Tandridge District Council’s adoption of its Local Plan and CIL Charging Schedule. The ‘well-regardedHeidi Copland heads the department and is praised by clients as being ‘straightforward and efficient, providing clear and reliable advice whilst appreciating the commercial pressures clients face’.

Irwin Mitchell is known for its promotion of mixed-use regeneration schemes, particularly on former brownfield land, and regularly handles development projects in the industrial, education, retail and student accommodation sectors, among others. The group also has strong litigation expertise and a solid track record in the High Court, where it represents clients in appeals and statutory inquiries. Practice head Carl Dyer and ‘rising star’ Nicola Gooch recently advised Santon Developments on planning strategy for the North Street Quarter development, a former industrial site which had been badly damaged by flooding in 2009. The team is also assisting Chippenham Properties and Langley Properties on a mixed-use development set to contain up to 400 new homes, a hotel site and several commercial outlets. Other key figures include James Pavey, who focuses on contentious planning work, and Carolyn Morgan-Welker, who advises on planning, highways and environmental law.

The ‘professional, helpful and responsive’ team at Shoosmiths LLP is ‘always attuned to the commercial factors behind clients’ instructions’, and ‘consistently provides clear and constructive advice’. The group recently acted for Buckland Developments on a promotion planning application for 6000 residential units in Hampshire, a £200m allocation designed to meet the needs of the south Hampshire urban area. In another highlight, the team acted for Grainger on the Aldershot army town redevelopment, which involved advising on section 106 agreements, infrastructure delivery and affordable housing, among other issues. The practice is headed by Kirsten Hewson, with Milton Keynes-based Matthew Stimson the other key practitioner. Other notable clients include Prime Finance (West Byfleet), Bellway Homes and the Ministry of Defence.

Blandy & Blandy LLP’s team works closely with its environmental law department, providing ‘prompt, clear and precise advice’ on the full spectrum of planning permission matters, including complex and controversial schemes and negotiations with planning authorities. The group recently advised Resource Recovery Solutions on the planning of required highway works, including road widening, junction realignment and footpath construction, liaising with Derby City Council regarding maintenance issues and ongoing liabilities. The practice also represented a private individual in prosecution proceedings filed by Croydon Borough Council for non-compliance with an Enforcement Notice, and acted for the University of Reading on the development of the Shinfield location. Karen Jones heads the team and advises on strategic planning, public enquiries and environmental law. Simon Dimmick is recommended for his track record on complex projects across the Thames Valley.

Holmes & Hills is ‘a go-to firm for local planning matters’ and ‘has an excellent level of expertise in section 106 matters, planning law and newly emerging case law’. The team acts for a number of local authorities in the South East region, covering all aspects of planning law including policy, applications, civil planning injunctions and prosecutions at the Magistrate’s and Crown Courts. The group is regularly called on to provide planning law advice to Forest Heath District Council, and recently assisted the client with a single issue review following the quashing of an existing local plan by the High Court. Practice head David Whipps has notable expertise in planning appeals and ‘always has a firm grasp of the issues at hand’; he is ably assisted by Steven Hopkins, who advises on commercial property sites, and Jo Lilliott, who is ‘very knowledgeable in affordable housing and highway-related matters’.

Lester Aldridge LLP’s ‘excellent’ team attracts praise for its ‘clear and concise advice’; it is ‘commercially minded, and appreciative of the need to respond in a timely manner’. The firm advises developers on planning proposals, infrastructure agreements and related negotiations along with planning appeals and judicial reviews, and is notably active in the housebuilding sector. Recent work includes advising Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in its capacity as landowner on the proposed development of a new hospital, primary school and 500 additional residential units, which involved a section 106 agreement. The team also acted for C&G Properties in a planning appeal for the development of 100 dwellings in Kent, negotiating with a local planning authority to obtain consent for disposal of the land to the client. Tom Alder heads the department.

Pitmans LLP’ ‘outstanding’ practice provides ‘rock-solid advice’, and ‘is able to report complex planning issues in terms that can be easily relayed to non-professionals, a strength which is partly down to the high level of partner engagement’. Key areas of focus include section 106 agreements and affordable housing; community infrastructure levy (CIL) matters; real estate work; and issues involving assets of community value. The ‘extremely efficientChristina Daniels heads the practice and is ‘a great strategic thinker – highly detailed and efficient and able to act quickly, always keeping the client on the front foot when negotiating’. Daniels is acting for Cala Homes and Highwood Group in negotiations for a section 106 agreement for a 700-unit development. Other key clients include Redrow Homes, Ashill Land and Thames Water Utilities.

Whitehead Monckton is praised for its ‘excellent client care’ with ‘good out-of-hours response times’, and the group’s ‘commercial attitude’ and ‘good industry knowledge in both planning and development’ are also singled out by clients. The practice acts for a number of developers and housebuilders on high-value residential development schemes, and the team is also noted for its agricultural, farming and retail expertise. Recent work includes advising F D Attwood & Partners on the site assembly for a 450-unit residential development scheme, which includes affordable housing, estate roads and open farmland space. Practice head Vicky Stoodley is ‘an outstanding planning lawyer’ who is ‘constantly engaged with the client to get the best possible outcome’. Planning disputes expert Christopher Longden is also recommended.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors fields an ‘impressive’ planning team that ‘provides timely and measured advice based on a wealth of experience’ and is ‘very good at making planning applications in difficult cases’. The group acts for local authorities, private individuals, planning consultants and property developers on the full scope of planning and development issues, both contentious and non-contentious. Highlights included advising Maldon District Council on a section 106 agreement for the development of more than 1,000 new houses in the Maldon district; representing Great Munden Parish Council in a case opposing a solar panel farm application; and assisting Cheltenham Tewkesbury in a local plan examination. Rob Jameson ‘is always able to identify key issues’, and practice head Salvatore Amico offers ‘consistently helpful and clear responses’.

Clients of Clarke Willmott LLP rate the firm’s ‘excellent all-round planning advice’ and its strengths in the housebuilding, social housing and food retail sectors. The team regularly advises on the drafting and negotiation of section 106 agreements and deeds of variation, and also assists with CIL issues, affordable housing and infrastructure projects. Senior associate Anne Jones has strong planning and environmental law expertise, and recently advised Countryside Properties on an estate regeneration scheme for a mixed-use redevelopment. The ‘highly skilledNeil Baker heads the practice, and was recently instructed by Persimmon Homes Southern to handle a planning appeal against Fareham Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 120 land dwellings. Other key clients include East Thames Homes, Isle of Wight Council and New Forest District Council.

Debenhams Ottaway advises small-to-medium-sized businesses on the full range of planning issues, with an emphasis on the mixed retail housing space. Highlights included obtaining planning permission and quashing an enforcement notice on a former RAF Airfield site on behalf of Runways Farm; advising Thames Central Open Space Society on its challenge to planning permissions granted by Westminster and Lambeth Council for the controversial Garden Bridge; and acting for AXA PPP Healthcare on additional planning agreements for its new HQ in Tunbridge Wells. Commercial property expert Ruth Boulton heads the practice. Bernadette Hillman left to join Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

EMW Law LLP’s practice covers all areas of land-related law including planning, promotion, construction and funding issues, and the group has a strong track record in complex development projects. Recent work includes advising Marlborough Oasis on its planning application for a mixed-use development comprising 1500 new dwellings; providing ongoing advice to Inter MK in relation to a football stadium development set to include a hotel, arena, retail and leisure facilities; and dealing with all planning due diligence in respect of Grand Union Housing Group’s acquisition of several affordable housing sites. Associate Marco Mauro acts for a range of developers, landowners, investors and high-net-worth individuals, advising on the full spectrum of planning issues.

Stevens & Bolton LLP is praised for its ‘prompt and appropriate responses as well as its good mixture of technical and practical advice’. The group ‘demonstrates a good understanding of planning and local government operations’. The team’s diverse roster includes clients in the healthcare, high-end residential development, retail and leisure sectors, and the practice regularly advises on highway issues and development site assembly. ‘Experienced planning consultant’ Catherine Davey is the key practitioner and is ‘very thorough in her knowledge of the intricacies of the area, particularly in enforcement cases and listed building issues’. Davy is also well-regarded for application advice and assistance with CIL issues, regeneration projects and section 106 agreements, amongst other matters. Senior associate Markus Klempa is also a name to note.

The team at BrookStreet des Rocheshas a full understanding of the issues surrounding planning, and is quickly able to identify problems’. It is known for its representation of landowners, promoters and developers in residential-led and mixed-use schemes, and has been significantly active in the holiday, leisure and retail sectors. The group is advising Office Estates on the development of office space, new flats, public houses and community spaces in Central London’s Wandsworth, assisting the client with application reviews and Environmental Impact Assessments. Other highlights included acting for Buchanan (H) in a planning application and an associated section 106 agreement, and advising DP World on an Environmental Impact Assessment for a lorry park associated with London Gateway Port. Practice head Nigel Hewitson has ‘a deep understanding of planning law and the development process’, providing ‘legally sound and commercially sensible advice’.

Paris Smith LLP advises on early stage planning appraisals of development sites, represents local authorities in relation to emerging local plans, and assists its broad range of clients with the drafting and negotiation of section 106 agreements. The team recently acted for Ageas Bowl on the landmark redevelopment of the Rose Bowl Cricket Ground, a high-profile matter involving the construction of a four-star Hilton hotel and the extension of an existing golf course. Practice head Mark Howarth deals with high-value commercial property work; he is ably assisted by Nick Vaughan, who is noted for his expertise in the charities sector, and Peter Gammie, who specialises in brownfield site assemblies and disposals, acting for a number of regional developers and investors. Other clients include Southern Water Services, Eastleigh Borough Council, Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Drew Smith Group.

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Legal Developments in South East for Planning

  • Parking rights: here to stay? Consent might be the surprising answer 

    In the field of the acquisition of easements by prescription, little has caused more consternation over the last decade or so than the question of whether a right to park cars can be acquired by twenty years user as of right. The types of property capable of being adversely affected range from individual residential units all the way up to major development sites. The establishment of such a right can have a devastating impact on the value of the burdened land.

    - Falcon Chambers

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