Next Generation Partners

Planning and environment in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

At Birketts LLP, 'the environmental practice is diligent, professional, courteous and friendly, taking the time to truly understand the needs of clients'. The firm advises both private and public sector clients, among them national and regional housebuilders, local authorities and strategic developers on planning and environmental law. Its work includes  large-scale strategic development projects of up to 10,000 new homes in Cambridge, Cirencester, Bury St Edmunds, Kings Lynn, Grantham and more. Tom Newcombe in Cambridge and, in Ipswich, Deborah Sharples and Richard Eaton are the lead partners. Sharples is vastly experienced in environmental law and 'has a perceptive appreciation of the wider picture and she is a powerful advocate in negotiations and hearings'. Legal director Nicola Doole and senior associate Chloe Glason, both based in in Ipswich, are highly recommended by clients for planning matters.

Practice head(s):

Tom Newcombe; Deborah Sharples; Richard Eaton

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Doole


‘Birketts give you the confidence that when you do face a issue, there will be someone within their practice who will be able offer you the advice you require to make the appropriate decision.’

‘Deborah Sharples has the ability to review the technical planning matters put before her and offers well-considered advice in a timely manner.’

‘Tom Newcombe is great with clients. A strategic thinker.’

‘I have worked closely with Deborah Sharples on numerous occasions. She is the most hardworking and professional person that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She has always ensured that she is fully conversant with all aspects of the specialist field in which I am involved.’

‘The environmental practice team are diligent, professional, courteous and friendly taking the time to truly understand the needs of clients. keeping them fully informed of risk, options and costs.’

‘Deborah Sharples is an exceptionally competent and experienced planning and environmental law practitioner. She has great depth of experience in agricultural planning cases and is jsut as impressive in wider aspects of environmental regulation and law. She has a perceptive appreciation of the “wider picture” and she is a powerful advocate in negotiations and hearings.’

‘Extensive experience of all land use planning issues, working for public and private sector clients. Thus, great awareness of motivations and objectives of both. Very attentive and highly competent.’

‘Nicola Doole – exceptional manner, availability and efficiency. Tom Newcombe is very commercially aware.’

Key clients

Hopkins Homes Limited

Denbury Homes Limited

Countryside Properties UK Limited

Crest Nicholson Plc

Bloor Homes

Bellway Homes Limited

Fernham Homes Limited

Arbora Homes Limited

Hill Residential

Mersea Homes Limited



Welcome Break Services Plc

City and Country

Vistry Homes

Persimmon Homes

Hollybrook Homes Limited

Otley Properties

Enterprise Property Group

Generator Group

Flogas Britain Limited


Bathurst Developments Limited

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils

Broads Authority

Breckland District Council

Broxbourne Borough Council

Brentwood Borough Council

Norfolk Homes

Stonebond Properties Limited

Marden Homes Limited

Anderson Group


Northumbrian Water

Thames Water Utilities Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised the consortium of landowners on regarding a large residential scheme to the south of Didcot. The Development (known as Valley Park) is delivering some 4,254 dwellings, local centres, sports facilities, special needs school green and grey infrastructure and significant open space.
  • Advising Countryside Properties and L&Q New Homes regarding the cross boundary redevelopment of the Beam Park Dagenham including 2,900 homes and much more.
  • Advising Flogas in relation to the planning and environmental aspects of a proposed pipeline to link a port with a gas storage facility.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP in Norwich is 'a regional practice with national expertise, especially in planning, development and commercial property', and clients remark that the firm has 'first-rate planning legal advice combined with high levels of commercial awareness'. It frequently advises local authorities and other interested parties on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, as well as the negotiation of complex planning obligations, retail and leisure developments and judicial review proceedings. Jay Mehta leads the planning practice following the retirement of Paul Wootton in early 2022. Mehta is 'incredibly approachable and the way in which he speaks is so clear and concise'. Director Jamie Childs is 'calm, speedy, proactive and a trusted asset to the team'. In 2021, they advised Persimmon Homes on developments in Clacton, Colchester, Earls Colne, Stanford-Le-Hope and Exning.

Practice head(s):

Jay Mehta

Other key lawyers:

Jamie Childs


‘Jay Mehta is incredibly approachable and the way in which he speaks is so clear and concise. I go to Jay for all of my planning legal queries. He is personable and reliable.’

‘Howes Percival is a regional practice with national expertise, especially in planning, development and commercial property. The solicitors have very good knowledge of the region and the key contacts within it. We tend to work with trusted key contacts over a long period of time which is appreciated. Fee levels are acceptable for the quality of advice offered.’

‘The solicitors are responsive and enthusiastic and keep their clients informed of changes and developments in their respective fields. They are team players who seem to enjoy working together. The Planning team is particularly strong with Jamie Childs a key, long term contact.’

‘An excellent team providing top class advice but friendly and eminently approachable.’

‘Jay Mehta – Jay is really pleasant to deal with, provides excellent advice and is able to distil complex matters and present in simple terms’

‘The team is well led and professional in all its dealings, ensuring clear, concise and helpful advice is given and charges are explained. Their proactivity and responsiveness throughout a long process has been exemplary.’

‘Jamie Childs has been our valued partner for over two years of legal wranglings with many complex stakeholders. He has been very responsive, always professional, calm, speedy, easy to contact, proactive and generally a trusted asset to our team. I cannot fault his knowledge or application of the law, which seemed far superior to other solicitors he came up against.’

‘First-rate planning legal advice combined with high levels of commercial awareness. The HP Planning and Environment Team manage to provide first class planning legal advice, whilst understanding their clients commercial objectives.’

Key clients

BDW Trading Limited t/a BDW Cambridgeshire

Minster Property Group Limited

Saffron Housing Trust Limited

Tilia Homes Limited

Pentaco Construction Limited

Linden (Thurston) LLP

Linden (Highfields Caldecote) LLP

Vistry Homes Limited

Suffolk County Council

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

  • Led on planning obligation negotiations for Suffolk County Council in relation to the development consent order application for Sizewell C. This work involved a particularly novel approach to securing obligations and resulted in planning obligations worth in excess of £200 million in financial and “in-kind” contributions.
  • Advised Endurance Estates in connection with its planning application for in excess of 140 new dwellings in Stowmarket.
  • Continued to advise Turnstone Estates on a £65 million leisure development in Colchester. Work involved a wide range of planning law advice and section 106 negotiations, including ongoing advice to ensure the permission was safe from legal challenge through judicial review.

Mills & Reeve LLP

The planning practice at Mills & Reeve LLP is 'thoughtful, innovative, reliable and well resourced'. Clients remark that the firm has 'an excellent understating of local issues, but are able to draw in case law and precedents from elsewhere to support and negotiate complex areas of law'. Lead partner Peter Seaborn specialises in the promotion of complex planning and compulsory purchase projects, and he works on projects across the UK. He assisted Urban&Civic with the promotion of a proposed new settlement called Bowmans Cross in Hertfordshire for 6,000 homes and other uses. Senior associates Howard Felstead, Hannah Edwards and Alex Round play key roles in strategic development, planning and highways law, and strategic land projects respectively. All named lawyers are based in Cambridge.

Practice head(s):

Peter Seaborn

Other key lawyers:

Howard Felstead; Alex Round; Hannah Edwards


‘Peter Seaborn and Alex Round are positive, practical and realistic with their advice and approach.’

‘The team is well skilled. The Cambridge office has been very thorough in understanding heads of terms and converting this quickly, and efficiently into Section 106 agreements, understanding and acting quickly on client instructions. When specialists have been required Mills and Reeve have been able to draw this in from other offices to complement the Cambridge team well.’

‘The individuals have always been responsive and quick to engage with new instructions and/or issues as they arise. They have an excellent understating of local issues, but are able to draw in case law and precedents from elsewhere to support and negotiate complex areas of law.’

‘The planning team at M&R has always been one of the key reasons we work as extensively as we do with M&R. They are thoughtful, innovative, reliable and well resourced. They are also exceptionally lovely people to work with. We have worked alongside each other on some of the largest and most regionally significant projects and negotiated complex but highly workable s.106 agreements. There are very few planning teams that could manage this and we are delighted to have M&R in our corner.’

‘Peter Seaborn is quietly confident and knows his stuff. For large-scale strategic mixed use developments there are many flashier lawyers but none quite so capable.’

‘Alex Round is one of the most rigorous and strategic thinking senior associates in the market. One to watch without any doubt.’

‘Hannah Edwards and Howard Felstead ensure that everything gets sorted and demonstrate the strength in depth of the M&R team.’

Key clients


Marshall Group Properties Ltd

University of Cambridge

Trinity College

Taylor Wimpey


Countryside Properties

O&H Group

Axis Land Partnership

Work highlights

  • Advising Urban&Civic on the promotion of Bowmans Cross, a proposed new settlement in Hertfordshire for approximately 6,000 homes and other uses.
  • Advising the University of Cambridge on the promotion of its West Cambridge Innovation District.
  • Advising Trinity College on the promotion of a 950-home residential led scheme in Fakenham.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has a 'small but highly skilled team that offers a tailored personal service but also with the expertise to deal with schemes from the small to the very large with no dilution of the quality of service’. Consultant Bob McGeady leads the practice from Bury St Edmunds, though he is based part-time in Shetland, and he is a recognised expert in planning and local government matters. Clients note that he is 'first-class and highly respected as a national authority on section 106 matters'. Amy Richardson in Cambridge is a key partner in the practice. Together, they advised Scott Properties on 106 agreements the proposed development of 1200 houses at Marriotts Park on the outskirts of Norwich.

Practice head(s):

Bob McGeady

Other key lawyers:

Amy Richardson


‘Bob McGeady is excellent.’

‘They are a small but highly skilled team that offers a tailored personal service but also with the expertise to deal with schemes from the small to the very large with no dilution of the quality of service’

‘Bob McGeady is first class and highly respected as a national authority on section 106s. The fact he can also relate to people at all levels is a much appreciated skill and has played a significant role in bringing our planning applications to an early conclusion.’

Key clients

Abel Homes

Newton Longville Parish Council

Scott Properties Limited

Paul Lansdowne

Thurston Parish Council

Derek and Sue Smiley

Godolphin Management Company Limited

Richard and Sasha Ayres

Clopton Developments Limited

Andrew Mason

Farnham Environment Residents & Neighbours

Work highlights

  • Represented Newton Longville Parish Council at a nine-day public inquiry with Counsel as Rule 6 party opposing the grant of planning permission based on highway reasons for refusal.
  • Assisted Thurston Parish Council in bringing two judicial reviews relating to the grant of planning permission for sites that had not been included in a recently adopted Neighbourhood Plan against Mid Suffolk District Council. The issues concern the weight to be given to the Neighbourhood Plan and the Council’s emerging Local Plan.
  • Assisting an estates development company with a strategy to maximise their existing agricultural buildings for residential and commercial conversion, including buildings in close proximity to listed buildings, and highway works agreements.

HCR Hewitsons

The planning, highways and environment practice at HCR Hewitsons provides ‘a tailored service from a very polite and helpful team‘. The firm handles large-scale residential and mixed use development projects across East Anglia and beyond, and it has a broad landowner client base that includes farmers, investment owners and landed estates. Gemma Dudley is the key practitioner in Cambridge and she provides ‘clear, thoughtful advice which delivers practical solutions to complex issues‘. She acted for Hill Residential Limited in the negotiation of a Section 106 Agreement for an appeal in relation to a development of 576 dwellings in Stevenage. Senior associate Brendon Lee is ‘a true credit to the profession and a valuable asset‘.

Practice head(s):

Rosalind Andrews

Other key lawyers:

Gemma Dudley; Brendon Lee


‘To put it simply, going that extra mile to help and always showing that they want to help, I cant fault the company, everything is exactly how it should be for their clients’

‘Brendon Lee is very much like his firm always going the extra mile. We have worked as a team to try and get my piece of land sorted out.’

‘HCR offers a tailored service that continues to meet our needs. The communication systems have continued to be flawless and all staff are very knowledgeable and provide a rapid level of service. All staff arevery polite and helpful and as a team continue to provide us with an outstanding level of service and support.’

‘Brendon Lee is an outstanding associate. Brendon has shown a very high level of commitment and knowledge within his field of expertise. We have found him to be very polite and helpful and is always able to communicate his points in a manner that is logical and concise. Brendon is a true credit to the profession and a valuable asset to HCR in developing client relationships that will be long-lasting.’

‘Excellent all round service. Work is always to a very high standard and within deadlines. 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. Exceptional planning lawyer. Excellent in-depth knowledge of 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. Quick to grasp the issues and always sees the bigger picture. First class, always first choice.’

‘The HCR team in Cambridge offer a wide range of legal advice in respect of town planning and environmental matters together with highways and footpath law. The breakfast seminars have been helpful in identifying topical issues with appropriate potential solutions.’

‘Gemma Dudley and Brendon Lee work together to offer a range of skills and expertise with appropriate fee levels.’

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

Work highlights

  • Acting for Hill Residential in relation to an appeal for development of 576 dwellings in Stevenage, involving the negotiation of a complex Section 106 Agreement and advice in relation to a subsequent Statutory Challenge.
  • Acted for Swainsthorpe Parish Council on the successful judicial review of Norfolk County Council.
  • Acted for the Cambridge Investment Partnership in the negotiation of a Section 106 Agreement for a development of 75 dwellings in Cambridge. The Agreement made provision for affordable housing, a community facility contribution, an off-site sports contribution, a cycleway contribution, a car club scheme, a health contribution and open space provision.