Planning and environment in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP is 'a very strong firm that is regularly doing work that would usually be reserved for City practices'. The planning and environment group works for both private and public sector clients, among them local authorities, minerals and waste companies, and parish councils. The work ranges from large-scale strategic development projects to property litigation. Tom Newcombe in Cambridge and, in Ipswich the 'very client-focused' Deborah Sharples and the 'very knowledgeable' Richard Eaton are the key partners. Senior associates Nicola Doole and Chloe Glason in Ipswich both have in-house experience at local authorities.

Practice head(s):

Tom Newcombe; Deborah Sharples; Richard Eaton

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Doole: Chloe Glason


‘Very strong firm that is regularly doing work that would usually be reserved for City practices. A good range of experience and expertise. ’

‘Richard Eaton is very knowledgeable, great fun to work with. Nicola Doole – hard working, efficient. Tom Newcombe provides strong leadership. Deborah Sharples – very client focused and well organised. Chloe Glason is very efficient and fun to work with.’

‘Nicola Doole offers clear and effective advice, with excellent client-side manner. Very approachable.’

‘Deborah Sharples provided all the advice we needed both very promptly and accurately. This was particularly impressive given that we had had no relationship with her prior to this issue. We continue to work with her on related issues, so far with 100% successful results.’

‘Apparent limitless planning law knowledge, flexibility of approach and contactable. Keen to deliver exactly what is needed rather than simply producing a highly legalistic document. Sound advice.’

‘Tom Newcombe is always available to explore issues and explore strategies, welcoming client views and inputs. Clearly continues to reflect on issues and report back even after discussions have concluded. Works hard to produce targeted responses that are fit for purpose, trying to distil complex legal issues down into manageable written material to satisfy all requirements.’

‘The team is highly qualified and experienced and has exceptional specialist knowledge in their respective fields.’

‘The individuals we work with at Birketts are driven, talented, readily contactable and responsive. In particular I would give special credit to Deborah Sharples who has been quite exceptional in both her application, effectiveness and dedication throughout.’

Key clients

Babergh District Council

Countryside Properties (UK) Limited

Broads Authority

Breckland Council

Mid Suffolk District Council

Orwell Housing Association

City & Country

Mersea Homes Ltd

Persimmon Homes Limited

Fairfields Farm Produce Limited

Flogas Britain Limited

Trenport Investments Limited

Crest Nicholson (Eastern) Limited

Hopkins Homes Limited

Hopkins & Moore (Developments) Ltd

Stonebond Properties (Chelmsford) Limited

Bloor Homes Limited

Hills Group

Ipswich Borough Council

Volker Fitzpatrick

Work highlights

  • Advised a major UK energy supply company in relation to a project to develop a bulk storage facility of national significance and a supply pipeline.
  • Advising Countryside Properties (UK) Limited  on a major strategic joint venture in relation to the very complex planning of their regeneration of part of Dagenham of up to 3,000 residential units, two 3-form entry primary schools; railway station; supporting uses including retail, healthcare, multi faith worship space, leisure, community uses and other associated infrastructure.
  • Advising Commercial Development Projects Limited in relation to a Judicial Review regarding an Asda Supermarket in Leeds.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP handles a broad range of planning work that encompasses large-scale project development, advice to housebuilders and land promoters, the negotiation of complex planning obligations and compulsory purchase matters. Among the firm's many recent highlights is its work for Turnstone Estates on two £50m leisure developments in Colchester and Southend. Practice head Paul Wootton (who has 'unparalleled experience and an exceptionally bright mind') and directors Jay Mehta (who combines 'an in-depth understanding of planning law and practice with first-rate client care') and Jamie Childs all work in both the Cambridge and Norwich offices.

Practice head(s):

Paul Wootton

Other key lawyers:

Jay Mehta; Jamie Childs


‘Jamie Childs is a high quality individual. I’m impressed with his ability and conscientiousness, not least in the difficult past 12 months. His grasp of up to date legislation and that on the horizon is also noteworthy.’

‘First-rate knowledge of planning law combined with a commercial approach.’

‘Jay Mehta combines an in-depth understanding of planning law and practice with first-rate client care. We highly value his input on projects. ’

‘Paul Wootton and Jamie Childs, whilst very capable in their own rights, also work as a brilliant team. With Paul’s unparalleled experience and exceptionally bright mind having the ability to simply get the answer (let alone the question) before you’ve finished asking, Jamie’s thoughtful absorption covers all bases.’

‘After all his years in the business, Paul Wootton still fizzes with excitement at a new challenge. It’s a joy to see let alone work with. Jamie Childs’ comprehensive consideration makes law text books look light on detail!’

Key clients

Persimmon Homes

Taylor Wimpey UK Limited

Flagship Group (including Victory Housing)

Pigeon Group

Endurance Estates

Turnstone Estates

Breckland District Council

South Holland District Council

Braintree District Council

This Land Limited

East Cambs Trading Co Limited T/A Palace Green Homes

Big Sky Developments Limited T/A Big Sky Living

Axis Land Partnerships

Marden Homes Limited

Serruys Property Company Limited

NEEB Holdings

Eurovia Infrastructure Limited

FW Properties Limited

Heritage Developments Limited

Laragh House Developments Limited

Enterprise Residential Development Limited

ESCO Developments Ltd

Norfolk Homes Limited

Lovell Partnerships Limited

Hundred Houses Society Limited

Wellington Construction

Bennett Plc

Fleur Developments Limited

Orchard Homes (East Anglia) Limited

Burgess Homes Limited

Building Partnerships Limited

Shockingly Fresh Limited

Eutopia Homes

Crisp Maltings Group / Anglia Maltings (Holdings) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Turnstone Estates on two £50m leisure developments in Colchester and Southend respectively. Work on both schemes involved a wide range of planning law advice and section 106 negotiations, and support throughout the appeal for the Southend scheme.
  • Continued to advise Breckland District Council on a planning application for a 4,000 dwelling mixed use urban extension.
  • Advised East Cambs Trading Co Limited T/A Palace Green Homes on the 500 dwelling led mixed use Kennett Garden Village with the planning permission granted in 2020. This work included detailed section 106 negotiations and strategic planning advice.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP frequently acts for strategic land promoters, investors, institutional and local authority funds, national developers corporates and landowners on planning matters. It handles large-scale national and, increasingly, international projects. A prime example is its recent work for developer Urban&Civic on a 3500-dwelling residential led development in Corby. The team resides in the Cambridge office, where practice head Peter Seaborn, consultant Beverley Firth, who specialises in residential and mixed-use schemes, and experienced senior associate Howard Felstead are among the prominent practitioners.

Practice head(s):

Peter Seaborn

Other key lawyers:

Beverley Firth; Howard Felstead

Key clients


Countryside Properties

O&H Group

Marshall Group Properties Ltd


University of Cambridge

Trinity College

Taylor Wimpey

South Kesteven District Council

Homes England

Work highlights

  • Advising the promoters Marshall Group Properties Limited and Endurance Estates Strategic Land Ltd on the promotion of Land North of Cherry Hinton, an urban extension to Cambridge comprising 1,200 dwellings and other commercial and community uses.
  • Advising Urban&Civic in relation to a 3,500 dwelling residential led development in Corby.
  • Advising Taylor Wimpey on the promotion of a new community at Aylesbury for up to 3,000 dwellings and commercial, employment, community and infrastructure uses.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal is 'well versed in its area of law, as well as being both practical and creative in seeking solutions'. The firm handles the full range of planning work, including public rights of way, development consent orders and contentious matters. Amy Richardson in Cambridge is the lead partner and brings to bear extensive experience in planning agreements, project development and appraisal, appeals, enforcement issues, defending planning prosecutions and noise abatement issues. Consultant Bob McGeady is a renowned expert in planning and development matters and, though based mainly in Shetland, he also works in the Bury St Edmunds office.

Practice head(s):

Bob McGeady; Amy Richardson

Other key lawyers:

Sam Lees


‘Our representative constantly keeps their knowledge of our local community current, which is crucial to what we do.

‘Amy Richardson has represented our unique company for many years. She has extensive inside knowledge of our company and has always kept the best interests of our company at the highest level, which is something we value. ’

‘Very efficient and well informed, a leader within the Cambridge area.’

‘Well versed in its area of law, as well as being both practical and creative in seeking solutions.’

‘Seamlessly skilful service.’

‘Bob McGeady and Sam Lees are the planning litigation A-team.’

‘Bob McGeady is excellent and is a great comfort when dealing with tricky areas of planning law.’

Key clients

Ryedale District Council

Newton Longville Parish Council

Scott Properties Limited

St Chads PCC

Thurston Parish Council

C & S associates

Godolphin Management Company Limited

Farnham Environment Residents & Neighbours (FERN)

Clopton Developments Limited

Miquel Lopez

Work highlights

  • Advising Scott Properties Ltd on a section 106 agreement related to the proposed development of circa 1,200 houses on the outskirts of Norwich.
  • Ongoing strategy advice for Godolphin Management Company Ltd regarding their needs relating to equine development for their stud, racehorses, show jumping and endurance teams as well as property advice and planning advice in relation to management of their estates, including rights of way advice.
  • Handled two judicial reviews for Thurston Parish Council relating to the grant of planning permission for sites that had not been included in a recently adopted Neighbourhood Plan in Thurston in Suffolk.

Greenwoods Legal

At Greenwoods GRM, lead partner Kathryn Gilbertson has a national reputation for advice on environmental and regulatory matters, ranging from odour and waste management matters to contaminated land issues involving asbestos. Acting for national companies, property developers, SMEs and private individuals, the practice is known for its in-depth knowledge of environmental compliance issues and for its practical advice to high-profile clients on sensitive matters.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Gilbertson

Work highlights

  • Providing advice to an international data centre operator on the environmental permitting regime and the permits required to enable them to feed in electricity produced through back-up generators into the Grid.
  • Provided advice to several landowners on proposed planning developments.
  • Advised a social housing provider following service of a statutory nuisance notice. The development used ground source heat pumps. Successful appeal against the notice; and matter was resolved by negotiation.

HCR Hewitsons

HCR Hewitsons has a small but highly skilled team in Cambridge that handles large-scale development projects, as well as advising farmers and landed estates on planning matters. Legal director Gemma Dudley, who leads the practice and is 'highly professional, very knowledgeable and eager to help', has more than 17 years’ experience in planning, environment and compulsory purchase matters. She recently advised Homes England on the proposed development of Lodge Hill Camp in Kent. Associate Brendon Lee 'shows a very high level of commitment and knowledge within his field of expertise'.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Dudley

Other key lawyers:

Brendon Lee


‘Gemma Dudley is highly professional, very knowledgeable, quick in her responses, and eager to help. It felt that she was empathetic relating to matters in hand and accordingly she was a pleasure to deal with.’

‘Brendon Lee was fantastic, his advice and support was greatly appreciated in our land dispute and he went over and above other solicitors I have dealt with in the past – I couldn’t recommend him enough.’

‘The firm offers a tailored service that met our needs during what can be only described as very difficult times during a global pandemic. The communication systems were flawless and the staff are very knowledgeable and provide a rapid level of service while having to work away from the office. All staff involved in our case were always polite and helpful and as a whole, the team was outstanding in the level of service and support is provided. We have recommended their services. ’

‘Brendon Lee is an outstanding associate within the firm, he shows a very high level of commitment and knowledge within his field of expertise. We found him polite, helpful, and he was able to communicate his points across to us in a manner that was logical and concise. This provided us with a strong feeling of trust in his ability to look after our needs. He is a true credit to the firm and an asset in developing client relationships that will be long lasting. We would not hesitate to call on Brendon in the future.’

‘Strong knowledge of planning legislation, case law, its implications and practical application to development. Responsive, diligent. Work is always to a very high standard and within deadlines. Excellent value for money.’

‘Gemma Dudley is an exceptional planning lawyer. Second-to-none knowledge of planning legislation, case law, its implications and practical application. Clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to complex issues. Advice is always presented logically and clearly and gets to the heart of the issue. Quick to grasp the issues and always sees the bigger picture. First-class, always first choice.’

‘We have worked with the planning and environment team over a lengthy period for a variety of matters including planning appeals, planning agreements, site licensing and rights of way. The team has wide experience which underpins sound and clear advice which is appreciated by clients.’

Key clients

Homes England

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Greensand Trust

Cambridge Investment Partnership LLP

CIP (Mill Road Development) LLP

CIP (Cromwell Road) LLP

Dene Homes Limited

Downing College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property VII Limited

Great Oakley Farms Limited

Campbell Melhuish and Buchanan Limited

Hill Residential Limited

Knowles Transport Limited

Turnstone Limited

Lochailort Fairfield Limited

Chestnut Inns Limited

The Brooke Hospital for Animals

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Clayson Country Homes Limited

Rushmoor Development Partnership LLP

Bank Farm Ltd

Rearsby Estates Limited

Work highlights

  • Providing strategic and detailed planning and environmental advice to Homes England in relation to the proposed development of Lodge Hill Camp in Kent, including advice in relation to the local plan allocation process and input into the preparation of the application and Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Advising Hill Residential in relation to a development of 576 dwellings in Stevenage, involving the negotiation of a complex Section 106 Agreement.
  • Acted for Woolpit Parish Council in judicial review proceedings in the Planning Court (RCJ) in relation to the decision of Mid Suffolk District Council to grant outline planning permission for the erection of up to 300 dwellings and associated development in Woolpit.