Planning in Scotland
With a superb reputation for planning law, Brodies LLP is a regular fixture on key residential, leisure, renewables and infrastructure developments, among others, where the team's assistance covers all aspects of planning law, including compulsory purchases, section 75 planning obligations, judicial reviews and statutory appeals. Its extensive client roster includes public authorities and notable private sector clients. Edinburgh-based Neil Collar, who handles the full spectrum of planning law with a particular focus on renewable energy developments, and Aberdeen-based Elaine Farquharson-Black, who puts particular emphasis on the promotion of land through development plans, and joined the firm from Burness Paull LLP in May 2019, jointly head the practice.
Other key lawyers:
‘Solid reliable advice and reassuring knowledge.‘
‘Breadth of expertise in planning and in particular land tribunals make Brodies a stand-out firm to go to.‘
‘They all have an excellent awareness of planning matters in Scotland and provide clear, consistent advice to clients.’
‘I’ve known and worked with Brodies on a range of complex planning matters over a number of years and consider them to be one of the leading planning law firms in Scotland. Both collectively and individually they consistently provide clear advice and demonstrate a very thorough knowledge of all aspects of planning law. They are also very good at keeping clients and other consultants informed of emerging legislation changes.‘
‘They are very personable and give great confidence in all dealings. There is a genuine feeling that our business is important to them and they will provide the best advice and, where necessary, go the extra mile in assisting with negotiations and leading discussions with local authorities and other agencies if the client needs that. They instil complete trust and an underlying confidence in all dealings.‘
‘Brodies provides a reliable streamlined service. The team has a depth of knowledge and is able to provide sound advice.‘
‘The team at Brodies is extremely strong, and probably has the top two practicing lawyers in their field in Scotland. They are not only impressive in proving ‘passive’ advice where clients require it, but also lead clients in ensuring they are providing the best possible all-round advice and expertise to maximise the clients requirements.‘
‘Particularly strong team, probably the strongest in Scotland, with Elaine Farquharson Black joining up with Neil Collar.‘
‘Elaine Farquharson Black is a lawyer absolutely at the top of her game, who is equally good at the strategic overview as she is at running the nuts and bolts of a case. Fantastic client base and expertise.‘
‘Elaine Farquharson-Black is outstanding. Down-to-earth, approachable and highly responsive. She has expert knowledge which enables her to provide accurate guidance and advice. She is exceptionally well regarded in her field and this is entirely justified.‘
‘Elaine Farquharson-Black is exceptional. Very client-focussed and impressive expertise in planning and land tribunals. The ‘go-to’ person for my organisation.‘
‘Niel Collar has great knowledge of the law and practice and is a competent advocate.‘
‘Neil Collar has an in-depth knowledge of planning which he brings to bear with authority. His presence is reassuring for a client as he works out strategies and tactics to promote a case. Always measured his often laid-back style is often underestimated by those with opposing views.‘
Stewart Milne Group
Mactaggart & Mickel Homes
Drum Property Group
The University of Edinburgh
Aberdeen Football Club
- Advising Park of Keir Partnership on the Murray Legacy project in Dunblane, providing Scotland’s first purpose-built tennis and golf facility.
- Instructed by Spirit Energy to assist with the objection to the Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm due to its proximity to Spirit’s operational infrastructure and licensed areas for future exploration.
- Advised Drum Property Group on the multi-million pound deal to acquire a development site at Buchanan Wharf, Glasgow, and on a contract with L&G for the subsequent disposal for construction of a new Build-to-Rent scheme.
- Advised Ravenscraig Ltd on the amendments of the existing section 75 agreements for the Ravenscraig redevelopment.
- Advising the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland and six other conservation groups on their objection to the planning application for a new golf course at Coul Links, Embo, Dornoch.
Shepherd and Wedderburn
Shepherd and Wedderburn brings deep planning law expertise to the market, which is frequently called upon by housebuilder clients and energy sector players. This client base translates into regular contentious and non-contentious planning instructions pertaining to residential, leisure and entertainment, retail and energy developments, including associated environmental matters. Its contentious work includes judicial reviews, legal challenges to planning decisions and public inquiries. Ewan Macleod, who acts for multiple developers, and Colin Innes jointly head the practice.
‘Moray Thomson is a huge asset and a level-headed professional.‘
‘Moray Thomson is an out-of-the box thinker.‘
The Miller Group
Barratt David Wilson Homes
Royal High School Preservation Ttrust
Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd
Coul Links Ltd
Ørsted (formerly DONG Energy)
- Advising Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Limited, Miller Homes Limited, CALA Management Limited, Persimmon Homes Limited, Wallace Land Investment and Management Limited on a legal challenge to the Inverclyde Local Development Plan.
- Advising IMPACT Scotland on the first purpose-built concert hall proposed in St Andrews Square, Edinburgh.
- Advising Coul Links Limited on a controversial golf course proposal in the Scottish Highlands.
- Advising Bridges Antonine LLP on a judicial review of North Lanarkshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission for an out-of-town retail and commercial leisure park in Cumbernauld.
- Advising Orion IV European Sarl on a judicial review of South Lanarkshire Council’s decision to grant planning permission for an out-of-centre retail park in East Kilbride.
CMS has a strong profile for commercial, residential, energy and infrastructure development projects, providing assistance with a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters, including planning applications and agreements, compulsory purchases and planning inquiries as well as associated environmental matters. Following former team head Ann Faulds' retirement in April 2019, energy and infrastructure sector specialist Robin Hutchison now co-heads the team with Mark McMurray, who was promoted to partner in May 2019 and has particular expertise in compulsory purchase and cultural heritage matters.
‘This is a strong planning team with complementary skills and ready access to a wider range of related skills including in-depth knowledge and experience of commercial conveyancing in Scotland. There is also strong in-house support from the litigation department, should this be required.‘
‘Dedicated planning and environmental law team, knowledgeable and respected.‘
‘I have worked on a number of cases with Robin Hutchison and with Mark McMurray. Robin, although less directly involved in litigation, has the knowledge and skills to achieve successful outcomes from litigation that others might fail to do. Mark is more experienced in litigation and has the ability to draw out the best from a multidisciplinary team which is often necessary in complex planning and related cases.‘
‘Mark McMurray provides excellent quality and clear advice; he is also personable and approachable.‘
Inch Cape Offshore Limited/ Red Rock Power
TH Real Estate/ Nuveen
The Scottish Salmon Company
Calton Hill Hotel LP
Community Windpower Limited
EDF Energy Renewables
North Lanarkshire Council
Aberdeen Standard Investments
Electricity Supply Board (ESB)
Kincardine Offshore Wind Limited
- Advising Nuveen Real Estate on all planning, compulsory purchase and roads matters for the £1bn redevelopment of Edinburgh St James.
- Advising the Scottish Salmon Company on planning and environmental matters pertaining to its portfolio of salmon farms across Scotland.
- Advising Inch Cape Offshore Limited/ Red Rock on all offshore and onshore consents required for the Inch Cape offshore wind farm and associated electricity transmission infrastructure.
- Assisted Trump International with securing planning approvals for a second golf course and a 550-unit residential development as part of a 5-star tourism resort at Menie, Aberdeenshire.
- Represented Calton Hill Hotel LP in a planning inquiry pertaining to the client seeking to deliver a luxury hotel at the Thomas Hamilton designed Royal High School building in Edinburgh.
Morton Fraser is best known for its public sector work, which is not least due to team head Douglas Milne's extensive experience in this space, but the practice's client roster also includes private sector development and investment clients. With particular expertise in the contentious arena, which is also an area of particular expertise for associate and litigator Ursula Currie, the practice is regularly called upon to assist with planning inquiries, judicial reviews and planning litigation alongside compulsory purchase-related compensation claims and appeals against the refusal of planning permissions. Both, contentious and non-contentious work frequently pertains to housing, commercial and office developments.
National Grid Gas plc
New Ingliston Limited
Tesco Stores Limited
Parabola Property Limited
Persimmon Homes Limited
The City of Edinburgh Council
- Continues to advise Parabola Property Limited on a mixed-use development in western Edinburgh; this included securing planning permission for an office space, and planning advice on a housing development.
- Assisting Transport Scotland with public local inquiries arising from the A9 trunk road dualling from Perth to Inverness.
- Advising the City of Edinburgh Council on a residential-led development at East of Millburn Tower, Edinburgh, the so-called Garden District.
- Acted for British Waterways Board t/a Scottish Canals in the promotion of a compulsory purchase order to acquire the final part of the Forth & Clyde canal.
- Defending National Grid in a long-running compensation claim regarding a compulsory servitude for a gas main in Stonehaven.
Anderson Strathern is well placed to provide private and public sector clients alongside private clients with advice on residential, energy and infrastructure projects, covering both contentious and non-contentious issues. Typically these include compulsory purchase orders, planning applications and planning agreements, public inquiries and planning appeals as well as associated environmental matters. Team head Alastair McKie advises on all types of development proposals.
‘Well-organised, highly-responsive and efficient team. Well equipped to deal with urgent court litigation at short notice.‘
‘They have a great knowledge of the law and are excellent tacticians.‘
‘Alastair McKie is a highly-qualified planning lawyer with many years of experience. He has wide ranging credentials and gives clear, practical and knowledgeable advice.‘
Victoria Square Woking Limited
The City of Edinburgh Council
Ross Estates Company
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority
Edinburgh Airport Limited
Pow of Inchaffray Commissioners
Chemring Energetics UK Limited
Earl of Mansfield
Trustees of Miss I D Meiklam
Chamberlain Bell Developments
National Trust for Scotland
- Provided strategic advice to Peter D Stirling Ltd and the Trustees of I D Meiklam on the grounds of an appeal following the refusal by North Lanarkshire Council of a planning application for the Mossend International Railfreight Park; permission has now been granted.
- Acting for Ross Estates Company in opposition to a proposed waste-to-energy combined heat and power plant in Invergordon being promoted by Combined Power and Heat (Highlands) Ltd.
- Providing strategic planning law advice to Buccleuch Estates on a range of large-scale developments.
- Sole legal adviser to long-standing client Livos Energy; advising the client on its major wind farm development at Howpark in the Scottish Borders which was granted planning permission on appeal.
- Advising Edinburgh Airport Limited on an objection made to a major wind farm due to impacts on the airports radar.
Burges Salmon LLP opened an office in Edinburgh in May 2019 with a series of hires including planning specialist Craig Whelton, who returned to the firm after six years at Burness Paull LLP. Whelton has a particular focus on the housebuilding sector and is well-regarded for his knowledge of both Scottish and English planning law - the firm's expertise on both sides of the border is seen as 'a great USP'. He is supported by associate Lynsey Reid, who also joined from Burness Paull LLP.
Other key lawyers:
‘Since establishing a specialist planning team in Scotland, Burgess Salmon has added new competition to the Scottish planning law landscape.’
‘The team has a breadth of knowledge in planning law. They are able to swiftly and accurately respond on points of law, providing sound advice.’
‘When working to tight timescales, for example in relation to planning appeals and legal challenges, they have provided the necessary work in a swift and accurate manner whilst keeping to strict deadlines.’
‘This service given is professional, but personal, and this coupled with their knowledge of planning law really makes them stand out.’
‘They are new in Scotland, but with Craig Whelton they have a very experienced and competent individual in all aspects of planning.’
‘The team are very personable and approachable. Their advice is always sound and confident and delivered in a clear and concise manner.’
‘The Burges Salmon team in Scotland have a comprehensive knowledge and experience of the Scottish planning system. The practice also undertake a substantial amount of work in England, which is beneficial for Scottish-based clients with planning interests in England. This is a great USP.’
‘Craig Whelton is a highly personable lawyer with a clear enthusiasm for his subject area and the outcomes of his work that enhances his ability to advise convincingly and effectively.’
‘Craig Whelton and Lynsey Reid are always there to assist and give a legal view on matters. They are approachable and easy to talk to and have been a useful asset in the work that we have done with them.’
‘Craig Whelton – vastly experienced, competent and very good with clients. Great knowledge and great attention to detail. Absolutely first rate.’
‘Lynsey Reid’s personable and friendly approach makes the service from Burges Salmon stand out. Her dedication to her work and the wider property industry is notable. I would always recommend Lynsey to clients without hesitation.’
‘Craig Whelton has great knowledge of English and Scottish planning law and practice. He is approachable and commercially focused, providing clients with pragmatic and achievable legal advice.’
Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Limited
Gladman Developments Limited
Wallace Land Investment and Management Limited
Stewart Milne Group Limited
West Craigs Limited (part of Lloyds Banking Group)
Rivertree Residential Limited
- Advised West Craigs Limited on a £100m-plus urban expansion, including representing the client at two separate planning appeal hearings, securing planning permission and a significant reduction in planning gain contributions.
- Represented Rivertree Residential Limited, a developer of listed buildings, helping to secure planning permission at inquiry for the redevelopment of a nationally significant listed building.
- Represented land promoter Wallace Land Investment and Management Limited on multiple appeals against developer contributions in Edinburgh.
Burness Paull LLP has seen a number of internal changes resulting in former advocate Alasdair Sutherland taking over the team following his return to the firm in June 2019 from Terra Firma Chambers. He took over the lead from Elaine Farquharson-Black, who moved to Brodies LLP in May 2019, followed by Craig Whelton leaving the firm in June 2019; he now heads the planning group at Burges Salmon LLP. Under the new set-up, the practice has been particularly active for housebuilding clients and in the energy space, most notably renewable energy, providing assistance with planning permissions and associated contentious proceedings, but the team has also been handling planning obligations, compulsory purchases and transactional matters. Theresa Hunt, who is particularly experienced in developer obligations for large-scale developments, is the main contact in Aberdeen.
Other key lawyers:
‘Hard-working and practical.‘
‘Good public and private sector experience.‘
‘Great depth of knowledge.‘
‘Burness Paull is always very prompt to respond and the quality of work is always high. The approach always feels very much collaborative with our own efforts even when it involves areas where our own experience is limited.‘
‘Alasdair Sutherland has a great deal of experience form the Bar where he was very successful. This makes his experience unique.‘
‘I trust Alasdair Sutherland to give valid and quality work and advice and of particular note is the easy manner in which myself or anyone else in the company can pick up the phone and comfortably discuss relevant matters.‘
‘Alasdair Sutherland has just moved over from the Bar but is a star individual, with exceptional clear thinking and a good strategist.‘
‘Theresa Hunt has considerable skill and expertise in the planning section.‘
Aberdeen Football Club
Scotia Homes Ltd
Malthus Uniteam (UK) Limited
Stewart Milne Group
Queensberry Properties Limited
Mactaggart & Mickel Homes Limited
Cruden Homes (East) Ltd
Fiera Real Estate (previously Palmer Capital)
- Acted for Springfield Properties PLC in its successful appeal to secure planning permission for a residential development of 316 housing units and associated infrastructure on allocated land in Forres, Morayshire.
- Acted for MUFG Bank Limited as advisor to a funding syndicate of 25 lenders in matters pertaining to the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm, including project due diligence, grid connection and radar mitigation agreements.
- Successfully represented Aberdeen Football Club in its application for planning permission for its new stadium, including successfully opposing No Kingsford Stadium Limited’s, objectors to the development, challenge in the Court of Session.
- Assisted Cruden Homes (East) Limited with an appeal to the council’s refusal to grant planning permission for the development of 18 houses at Tarbert Drive, Murieston.
- Defending SC East Kilbride Limited in a judicial review following a planning permission challenge brought by Orion IV European s.a.r.l.
DLA Piper is well equipped to guide public and private sector clients through various contentious and non-contentious planning matters, most notably in the housing sector, but also those pertaining to energy and infrastructure projects. Recent work included planning applications and planning obligations, planning appeals, consent orders and judicial reviews. Sandy Telfer heads the practice and covers all aspects of housing, retail and energy developments with niche expertise in onshore unconventional gas.
‘DLA contributes to the development of a strategy which most law firms do not. We find most big law firms are too cautious. They will charge large fees to tell us what the law says. Very few are able to say what the law means and how the client should frame their strategy.‘
‘Excellent, efficient, professional and successful service.‘
‘Great, knowledgeable and achieve results.‘
‘We primarily work with Sandy Telfer, who is an expert in planning and property law: strategic thinking. lateral thinking. commercial thinking. strong track record. excellent team player. The service I have received has always been very good. Prompt and focused commercial advice.‘
‘Sandy Telfer is very professional and meticulous.‘
‘Sandy Telfer takes a holistic approach to any task, very knowledgeable, persuasive and invariably successful.‘
INEOS Upstream Ltd
Perth and Kinross Council
Hallam Land Management Ltd
New Waverley Advisers Ltd
Royal Bank of Scotland plc
Places for People
Henry Boot Developments
Dawnfresh Farming Ltd
Hansteen Land Ltd
Flamingo Land Ltd
Energiekontor UK Ltd
Moorbrook Textiles Ltd
Middlemead Properties Ltd
Amber Rei Holding Ltd
Pat Munro (Alness) Ltd
- Advised the planning applicant Flamingo Land Ltd on a residential holiday accommodation and leisure development on Loch Lomond, Scotland, which generated a large number of objections.
- Acted for the landowner clients in drafting rebuttal submissions to the Scottish Ministers in relation to an application by a community body to purchase land on the grounds that it had been abandoned or neglected by its current owners.
Gillespie Macandrew LLP
At Gillespie Macandrew LLP, solicitor advocate Colin Hamilton draws on his expertise in public law to advise clients on significant contentious matters. The firm works with a range of landowners, developers, energy and infrastructure providers and public sector clients. Hamilton, who is based in Edinburgh, works with fellow disputes specialist Isobell Reid, whose commercial practice has a focus on planning and construction matters.
‘The ability of different disciplines within the firm to work together to the client’s benefit is unique in my experience.’
‘Very experienced, particularly in large scale projects. Provide a Rolls-Royce service.’
‘Colin Hamilton is first class in dealing with large windfarm applications, onshore and offshore.’
‘Colin Hamilton took great care to ensure that we, as lay people with little knowledge of law and complex planning appeals, were fully and clearly informed about the options available to us. At all times he was scrupulous in ensuring we understood each step. Colin remained calm throughout the period he was acting for us, with a thorough grasp of the issues at all times.’
‘Patrick Munro was an invaluable help to us, as he provided backup and continuity to Colin’s handling of matters throughout the action and subsequent events. They make an excellent team, and throughout they reassured me and my colleagues that we were in excellent hands with our confidence fully maintained. Totally professional and the highest standards.’
No Kingsford Stadium Limited
Teddy Morgan Ltd t/a The Sub Club
Viking Energy Wind Farm
- Advising in relation to an objection to an application for planning permission for a proposed stadium development by Aberdeen Football Club.
- Advising Viking Energy on the c.450 megawatt windfarm development in Shetland.
- Advising Seagreen Wind Energy in relation to the acquisition of a 49% interest in 24 wind farms – both onshore and offshore – from EDF in a deal worth over £701m.
Harper Macleod LLP's practice, which is led by Peter Ferguson on the non-contentious side and Jennifer Jack for planning-related litigation, works with many major public sector clients, including some of Scotland's key planning authorities, such as Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland. These relationships regularly see the firm called in for significant planning inquiries relating to the country's natural and cultural heritage. The team also has a track record of work for notable developer clients, advising on matters concerning both onshore and offshore wind farms.
Other key lawyers:
Scottish Natural Heritage
Historic Environment Scotland
Cairngorms National Park Authority
Dumfries and Galloway Council
City of Edinburgh Council
The Scottish Government (Marine Scotland)
Glasgow City Council
Fred Olsen Renewables
Lairg Wind Farm Limited
Alpha Real Capital
Infra Red Capital Partners
The Renewable Infrastructure Group
Aberdeen Standard Investments
St Andrews University
Hillhouse Quarry Group
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland
National Car Parks (NCP)
Flying Scot Parking
- Advised Scottish National Heritage regarding a public local inquiry concerning an application for planning permission for a golf course at Coul Links, Dornoch, which was called in for determination by the Scottish Government.
- Advised Aberdeen Standard Investments infrastructure debt team on the planning aspects of its loan of £63m to finance the operational 27 MW Whiteside Hill windfarm.
- Advised Energiekontor on planning obligation agreements for two new large scale onshore wind energy developments (10 turbine 34MW at Overhill in East Ayrshire and 12 turbines 49MW at Little Hartfell in Dumfries & Galloway).
Pinsent Masons LLP
Embedded in the firm's wider UK planning team, Pinsent Masons LLP's Scotland team has been particularly active handling energy and infrastructure consenting work but has also been assisting housebuilders with contentious and non-contentious matters arising from residential developments. This includes planning applications, planning appeals and inquiries. Gary McGovern is the main contact in Scotland and specialises in energy, infrastructure and housing matters; he regularly acts for public and private sector clients.
‘A well respected team in the planning and property sphere, with a demonstrable track record in achieving positive outcomes. Key partners are acknowledged experts in their field and bring gravitas to a project team.’
‘A high level of active engagement from partners and other senior people on day-to-day project activities. Have the ability to see creative solutions to problems and to communicate these in a succinct and easily understood manner.’
RWE Renewables UK Developments Ltd
Seagreen Wind Energy Limited
Dumfries and Galloway Council
Barratt Homes/ David Wilson Homes
Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd
The Pilkington Trust
Crown Estate Scotland
Winchburgh Developments Limited
UK Space Agency
- Advising Dumfries and Galloway Council on the promotion of the Whitesands Flood Protection and Regeneration Scheme, including representation at a five week inquiry.
- Advising CALA, Bellway and Barratt on their planning application for a proposed residential development of circa 600 units at the site of the Dykebar Hospital, known as Thornly Park Village, Paisley.
- Assisting Crown Estate Scotland with consenting matters pertaining to its next major Scottish offshore wind leasing round, known as ScotWind.
- Advising Seagreen Wind Energy Limited on all consenting and offshore property matters arising from a 3.5GW offshore wind project.
Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP
With onshore wind planning expert Fraser Gillies in the lead, Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP has carved out a strong renewables planning practice, acting for utilities and developers in Section 36 applications and inquiries alongside planning appeals pertaining to onshore wind farms. Inverness-based Paul Adams was promoted to partner in April 2019 and is well versed in providing assistance with planning applications, planning appeals and planning agreements.
Other key lawyers:
‘Specialist expertise in planning law and extensive experience of applying this knowledge in a renewable energy context.‘
‘Fraser Gillies is able to provide thoughtful and valuable advice on projects and how to unlock planning problems.‘
Renewable Energy Systems Limited
Innogy Renewables UK Limited
Muirhall Energy Limited
Vento Ludens Limited
Coriolis Energy Limited
Fred Olsen/ Natural Power
Brookfield Renewables UK Ltd
SIMEC Wind One Limited
BayWa r.e. UK Limited
- Advised Pauls Hill II Limited on a Section 36 Electricity Act 1989 application for the proposed Pauls Hill II wind farm.
- Advised Renewable Energy Systems Limited (RES) on a Section 36 Electricity Act 1989 application for the proposed Killean wind farm.
- Advised Crystal Rig IV Limited on a Section 36 Electricity Act 1989 application for the proposed Crystal Rig IV wind farm.
- Advising Blarghour Wind Farm Ltd on a Section 36 Electricity Act 1989 scheme, a 17-turbine development with a projected output of 57.8 MW in Argyll and Bute.
- Advised Vento Ludens Limited on the planning appeal for its proposed Lurg Hill wind farm.