Planning and environment in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP undertakes large-scale projects throughout East Anglia and Thames Gateway for both private and public sector clients. It acts for minerals and waste companies, local authorities and parish councils, strategic developers and a host of regional and national housebuilders. Its work covers advice on planning applications and disputes, appeals, enforcement, heritage matters and the full scope of environmental law. Tom Newcombe in Cambridge and, in Ipswich Deborah Sharples and Richard Eaton are the key contacts. Sharples joined from HCR Hewitsons, where she was head of property and planning, and has practised environmental law for almost 30 years. Nicola Doole and Chloe Glason are among the firm's many strong associates.

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Doole; Chloe Glason


A particular area of strength within the team is its deep knowledge of where environmental law and agriculture meet. The team deals effectively and knowledgeably with complex and specialist matters across the environmental and planning field.

Deborah Sharples has excellent in-depth knowledge in terms of environmental, planning and rural affairs. She often deals with technically complex matters both in terms of planning decisions and legal challenges. Deborah is always on top of a case and always adds a valuable perspective on solutions and strategy.

The firm has in-depth knowledge and experience of the agriculture and waste sectors.

My experience is from working with Deborah Sharples. She has a very strong and wide-ranging combination of planning and regulatory experience in the agricultural and waste sectors. Deborah is incisive and tenacious in her knowledge and application of the law, and she inspires confidence in experts and clients alike. I do not hesitate to recommend Deborah to our clients.

Key clients

Flogas Britain Limited

Trenport Investments Limited

Broads Authority

Broadland Council

Bernard Matthews Foods Limited

Crest Nicholson Eastern Limited

Countryside Properties UK Limited

Enterprise Property Group

Hill Residential

Generator Group

Hopkins Homes Limited


Babergh District Council

Mid Suffolk District Council

Breckland Council

Notcutts Limited



Commercial Development Projects Limited

Hollybrook Homes Limited

Churchmanor Estates

Mersea Homes

Stonebond Properties Limited

Marden Homes Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised CBRE SPUK III (No.45) Limited and Mersea Homes Limited on a mixed-use development as part of the Ipswich Garden Suburb project for up to 815 dwellings, a district centre and primary school and supporting uses.
  • Advised Generator (Redcliffe Wharf) Ltd on the redevelopment of a strategically important brownfield site in Central Bristol involving  the negotiation of a complex s106 agreement, addressing matters such as financial contributions and affordable housing provision as well as negotiating a schedule in the agreement that deals with the requirement to connect to the Bristol District Heat Network.
  • Advised Flogas Britain Limited on  planning consents and hazardous substances consents in connection with the provision of a major gas processing facility and an associated gas delivery pipeline to the coast. This facility is important for national fuel security and is of high business importance to the client.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP handles large-scale projects for housebuilders, land promoters and local authorities nationwide. The practice, which one client describes as 'bright and enthusiastic with unwavering depth and breadth of experience', is regularly instructed to negotiate complex planning obligations and to handle judicial review proceedings. It also has a particularly strong reputation for projects in the retail and leisure sectors. Practice head Paul Wootton, who excels in compulsory purchase matters, director Jay Mehta and highly regarded senior associate Jamie Childs work in both the Cambridge and Norwich offices.

Practice head(s):

Paul Wootton

Other key lawyers:

Jay Mehta; Jamie Childs


Bright and enthusiastic with unwavering depth and breadth of experience.

Jamie Childs is very bright and capable. Paul Wootton has limitless knowledge and experience. The firm has an unbeatable commercial approach. Jay Mehta’s relaxed manner belies his energy and buzzing inside!

First-class legal knowledge combined with commercial awareness.

Jay Mehta is highly rated. He is always quick to respond to queries and on-hand to provide first-class legal advice, combined with a commercial awareness.

The team is made up of distinctly different individuals, each excellent, who compliment one another to ensure clients’ needs are comprehensively covered.

Paul Wootton, Tracey Hughes and Jay Mehta are all highly experienced, proactive and commercially practical.

Key clients

Persimmon Homes

Flagship Group (including Victory Housing)

Pigeon Group

Endurance Estates

Turnstone Estates

Breckland District Council

South Holland District Council

This Land Limited

East Cambs Trading Co Limited T/A Palace Green Homes

Big Sky Developments Limited

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

Crosslane Student Developments UK Limited

Wellington Construction

Bennett Plc

Fleur Developments Limited

Orchard Homes (East Anglia) Limited

Work highlights

  • Advising Breckland District Council on a planning application for a 4,000 dwelling mixed-use urban extension. This work has involved complex s106 negotiations and planning law advice on a range of matters relating to the development.
  • Advised Endurance Estates on local plan promotion and planning strategy in connection with two development sites in Uttlesford. Planning permission for both schemes was secured following on from a Rosewell planning inquiry in January 2020.
  • Advised NEEB Holdings in connection with a planning appeal for two sites and succeeded in a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s dismissal of the appeals.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP in Cambridge has a full-service real estate group that handles substantial and high-profile national and increasingly, international property projects. Among its clients are strategic land promoters, investors, institutional and local authority funds, major developers, strategic landowners, large corporates, and education and healthcare providers. Peter Seaborn and Beverley Firth are specialist planning partners. Principal associate Caroline Bywater leads on major projects and routinely advises on strategic planning matters, while senior associate Howard Felstead specialises in in residential-led strategic development and commercial investment.

Practice head(s):

Peter Seaborn; Beverley Firth

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Bywater; 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

  • Advised promoter Urban&Civic Waterbeach Ltd on securing planning permission for 6,500 dwellings at Waterbeach’s new community in Cambridgeshire, which was recognised by Planning Resource as the largest housing permission granted in the Country in 2019.
  • Advising the promoters, Marshall Group Properties Limited, on the promotion of Land North of Cherry Hinton, an urban extension to Cambridge comprising 1,200 dwellings and other commercial and community uses.
  • Advised Countryside Properties on the promotion of a 750-dwelling urban extension to Bishop’s Stortford.

Hewitsons in Cambridge 'understands developers' needs and perspective and give well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice'. The firm handles large-scale development projects, including residential and mixed-use sustainable urban expansions for developers and landowners. Among its key clients is Homes England. Partner Deborah Sharples moved to Birketts LLP, so 'assured and competent' legal director Gemma Dudley now leads the practice. Clients praise her 'excellent in-depth knowledge of legislation, case law, its implications and practical application'.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Dudley


I qualified as a chartered surveyor and land agent in 1971. I have been dealing with the partners and assistant solicitors of this firm since 1974. Originally based in Cambridge, over the years the firm has expanded into a well-established legal practice serving the property professions and development and construction businesses from several offices. On behalf of my clients I have had dealings with many law firms in London and provincial cities, particularly in Peterborough, Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln and Norwich. The Cambridge office of Hewitsons is my preferred choice over other firms.

I have found the lawyers at Hewitsons to be up-to-date, well-informed and experienced in the planning and development issues on which my clients needed guidance. Currently, I am dealing with Gemma Dudley. She is assured and competent, and does what is needed promptly. Both I and my clients find her an efficient person, who does it right first time.

Excellent all round. Work is always done to a very high standard and within deadlines. They understand developers’ needs and perspective and give well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice. Excellent value for money – market-leading advice without market-leading rates.

Gemma Dudley provides excellent all-round advice. She is an exceptional planning lawyer with excellent in-depth knowledge of legislation, case law, its implications and practical application. She provides clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to complex issues. Advice is always presented logically and clearly. She is quick to grasp the issues and always sees the bigger picture. First class and always first choice.

Key clients

Homes England

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Greensand Trust

Andersons Assets Ltd

Axis Estates Limited

Beyond Storage Leicester Limited

Cambridge Investment Partnership LLP

CIP (Mill Road Development) LLP

Dene Homes Ltd

Duxford Developments Ltd

Girton College, Cambridge

Downing College, Cambridge

Pembroke College, Cambridge

Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge

JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property VII Limited

Gibson Developments Ltd

Great Oakley Farms Ltd

Campbell Melhuish and Buchanan Ltd

GCR Camprop Eight Ltd

Hill Residential Limited

Howard Group Limited

Foster Property Developments Limited

Laragh House Developments Ltd

Lightdoor Ltd

The Midcounties Cooperative Limited

Knowles (Transport) Limited

The Swiss Laundry Limited

Turnstone Limited

Milton Developments (Fenland) Ltd

Lochailort Fairfield Limited

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has 'an incomparable concentration of experts with in-depth experience of public and private sector work which places them well ahead of their competitors', according to one client. Its knowledge of how local authorities operate is a key differentiator from other practices in the region. Practice head Bob McGeady is based partly in Shetland but also works with the team in Bury St Edmunds. He works closely with the Cambridge-based planning partner Amy Richardson.

Practice head(s):

Bob McGeady

Other key lawyers:

Amy Richardson


Ashtons has an incomparable concentration of experts with in-depth experience of public and private sector work which places them well ahead of their competitors across the spectrum of planning and environmental cases.

Their standout features are practical common sense, attention to detail and a sure instinct for the critical points of a case. Bob McGeady and Amy Richardson are the two partners I have most contact with and they show a sure understanding of developer work and local government litigation, drawing on years of experience on both sides of the fence. Their colleague Sam Lees exhibits the same exemplary qualities.

Key clients

Ryedale District Council

Newton Longville Parish Council

East Cambridgeshire District Council

Mark Romero

Eastern Counties Leather

Godolphin Management Company Limited

EW Pepper Limited

Clopton Developments Limited

Andrew and Teresa Crouchman

Work highlights

  • Continuing to act for the Ryedale District Council on all section 106 related matters. This has included the negotiation and completion of section 106 agreements related to affordable housing and open space.
  • Handling judicial review of planning decision for Newton Longville Parish Council. Planning permission had been granted without the Council complying with various statutory requirements. Following the issue of proceedings and a preliminary hearing in the High Court, Aylesbury Vale District Council agreed to the quashing of the planning permission.
  • Advised an individual client on a certificate of lawfulness/enforcement case. He has used a parcel of isolated land for a fireworks business and for general storage of business-related materials. The Council first threatened enforcement action but is presently considering an application for a Certificate of Lawful Use and Development.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM in Peterborough assists national companies, property developers, SMEs and private individuals with environmental compliance matters. Kathryn Gilbertson, who works from both Peterborough and London, is a leading light in regulatory and business defence matters. She is a committee member for the Eastern Region of the UK Environmental Lawyers Association (UKELA). She has an outstanding track record in successfully defending companies, their directors, and professionals suspected of causing or contributing to an incident.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Gilbertson

Buckles Solicitors LLP

Buckles Solicitors LLP in Peterborough handles both planning and environmental matters in both rural and urban areas of East Anglia.  Head of dispute resolution James Maxey oversees the work of the planning group, which includes solicitor Lauren Godfrey. The firm advises on land sales and purchases, planning applications, construction and contentious matters. This includes compulsory acquisition work, judicial and statutory review, restrictive covenant issues and a range of environmental disputes.

Practice head(s):

James Maxey

Other key lawyers:

Lauren Godfrey

Key clients

Longhurst Group Limited

Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Empiric Student Property PLC

Forshaw Group Limited

Devonshire Metro Limited

Barnack Estates Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Longhurst Group Limited on a section 106 agreement for a residential housing association led social housing development.
  • Advising Folkestone & Hythe District Council on highway issues and section 247 application for extinguishment relating to major council-led seaside regeneration scheme.
  • Advising Empiric Student Property PLC on the section 278 agreement associated with a student accommodation development necessary to enable the development to proceed.