Planning in Scotland

Brodies LLP

Providing full-service advice, the 'highly professional, knowledgeable and experienced' team at Brodies LLP has gained a reputation as a leading planning specialist involved in various key planning projects across Scotland, and was recently joined by former Burness Paull LLP planning head Elaine Farquharson-Black. The team has seen an increase in instructions pertaining to offshore energy, student accommodation and build-to-rent projects while onshore oil and gas and aquaculture projects are other key areas of expertise alongside infrastructure project-related compulsory purchase matters. 'Very knowledgeable' team head Neil Collar is highly regarded in the market.

Practice head(s):

Neil Collar

Other key lawyers:

Karen Hamilton; Elaine Farquharson-Black


Very good communication with the client.

Has a clear understanding of the subject area and provides very good advice.’

Quick, comprehensive and professional service.

Key clients

Park of Keir Partnership

Artisan Real Estate

Spirit Energy


Moda Living

Marine Harvest

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority

Persimmon Homes

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland (RSPB)

Scottish Natural Heritage

Work highlights

  • Advising on the Murray Legacy project in Dunblane, to provide Scotland’s first purpose-built tennis and golf facility.
  • Provided advice on the Custom House hotel development in a Grade A listed building; this included assistance with the planning process and legal audit of the planning application, among other matters.
  • Instructed by Spirit Energy to object to the Hornsea 3 offshore wind farm due to its proximity to Spirit’s operational infrastructure and licensed areas for future exploration.
  • Advised on the amendments of the existing section 75 agreements for the Ravenscraig redevelopment.
  • Advising Moda on the implementation of one of Scotland’s largest build-to-rent projects in Scotland.

Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP's 'strong and very experienced' planning practice is regularly engaged on key construction, development and regeneration projects in the house-building, energy and infrastructure sectors. It is well versed in assisting clients with contentious and non-contentious planning permission proceedings, judicial reviews, planning inquiries and infrastructure-related compulsory purchase matters. The team includes the 'very competent and diligentTheresa Hunt, who made partner in March 2019 and covers a wide spectrum of planning matters.

Morton Fraser

With particular strength in public sector work, Morton Fraser acts for a number of local planning authorities but the team, led by Douglas Milne, also undertakes private sector development work where it assists large organisations and private developers with residential and commercial development projects. As well as providing assistance with planning permission matters, the team (including associate and recommended contentious planning expert Ursula Currie) is also experienced in handling planning litigation, including compulsory purchase claims, and public local inquiries.

Practice head(s):

Douglas Milne

Other key lawyers:

Kenneth Carruthers; Rory Alexander; Ursula Currie


‘In-depth knowledge of roads projects, detailed preparation for PLIs and related procedures including compensation claims arising from compulsory acquisition, team-based approach with clear allocation of responsibilities and clear lines of communication’.

‘Douglas Milne, Partner has an impressive understanding of planning law, and ability to manage his team’.


Key clients

Tesco Stores


Ministry of Defence

Transport Scotland


Parabola Property

Aberdeen City Council

Stewart Milne Group

The City of Edinburgh Council

New Ingliston

Work highlights

  • Representing Transport Scotland at public local inquiries for the dualling of the A9 and A96 trunk roads.
  • Assistance in securing consent for eight new office blocks in Edinburgh.
  • Providing strategic planning advice in relation to a major brownfield development at Fountainbridge, Edinburgh to include a 70,000sq ft office development, a 270 bed hotel and 300 residential units.
  • Advising on three major development projects: a 70,000sq ft office development in Semple Street, Edinburgh; the successful appeal against the refusal by Aberdeenshire Council to grant consent for a major business development at Thainstone, Inverurie; and a housing development in Elgin Morayshire.
  • Advising the council as planning authority on a major residential led development at West Craigs valued at approximately  £280m.

Shepherd and Wedderburn

Shepherd and Wedderburn has carved out a strong practice acting in residential, energy and retail development projects, providing assistance with contentious and non-contentious issues including compulsory purchase and environmental law matters. Colin Innes and Ewan Macleod jointly head the team, which includes planning lawyer Moray Thomson, who joined from DWF in October 2018, together with two associates.

Practice head(s):

Colin Innes; Ewan MacLeod

Other key lawyers:

Moray Thomson

Key clients

Murray Estates

Taylor Wimpey



The Miller Group

British Land

Hallam Land Management

Gladman Developments

CALA Group



Work highlights

  • Advising Cosmopolitan Hotels in an appeal against Renfrewshire Council’s refusal of its application for a Certificate of Lawfulness.
  • Acting for DF Concerts in respect of its judicial review of Glasgow City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a housing development adjacent to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, which is owned by the client.
  • Advice on the construction of an 18-hole golf course near Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands, which is opposed by a number of conservation groups.
  • Acting for Moda in securing planning permission for a build-to-rent development in Glasgow City Centre.
  • Advising NewRiver, owner of the Cuckoo Bridge Retail Park in Dumfries, on the relaxation of a planning condition that restricted the sale of goods at the retail park to bulky goods only.


Acting for public and private-sector clients, CMS handles a wide range of contentious and non-contentious planning work in the energy, infrastructure, CPO-led regeneration and commercial residential sectors. The highly regarded Ann Faulds heads up the team, which includes recommended senior associate Mark McMurray, who is regularly involved in major infrastructure and commercial development projects.

Practice head(s):

Ann Faulds

Other key lawyers:

Robin Hutchison; Mark McMurray

Key clients

Aberdeen Standard Investments


Brockwell Energy

Calton Hill Hotel

The City of Edinburgh Council

Close Leasing

Columbia Threadneedle Investments

EDF Renewables

Glasgow City Council

The Glasgow School of Art

National Grid

Scottish Water

Work highlights

  • Advising EDF Renewables on a number of matters, most significantly the development of the 177MW Dorenell Wind Farm in Moray which will be one of the UK’s, and Europe’s, largest onshore wind farms.
  • Advice on the appeals for two hotel proposals by the client including representation in an associated inquiry with nine opposing parties.
  • Represented Scottish Water in its first major corporate acquisition of four wastewater treatment works.
  • Advising Red Rock Power, a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned SDIC, on all offshore and onshore planning elements of the Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm.
  • Advised Glasgow School of Art on its participation in evidence sessions conducted by the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee following the Mackintosh Building fires.

DLA Piper

Acting for objectors, appellants and other parties, DLA Piper Scotland LLP has substantial expertise in contentious planning matters, including judicial review challenges. The practice led by Sandy Telfer is also well versed in providing planning advice on housing developments alongside infrastructure and energy sector development projects, including those in a multi-jurisdictional setting.

Practice head(s):

Sandy Telfer

Other key lawyers:

Michael Greig

Key clients

INEOS Upstream

Perth and Kinross Council

Hallam Land Management

New Waverley Advisers

Royal Bank of Scotland

Places for People

Henry Boot Developments

Dawnfresh Farming

Highways England

Hansteen Land

Work highlights

  • Advised Hallam Land Management on a possible legal challenge to the West Lothian Local Development Plan in relation to a site at Bathgate, Scotland.
  • Representing Hallam Land Management and CEG Land Promotions in the complex negotiation of a section 75 planning obligation following a previous successful planning appeal.
  • Advising Highways England on the promotion of multiple development consent orders for the upgrade of the sections of the A1 trunk road between Gateshead and the Scottish border.
  • Advising Places for People on the negotiation of developer contributions and the drafting of a section 75 agreement for a housing development forming Phase 3 of its Granton development in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  • Represented Ineos in a Court of Session judicial review challenge pertaining to onshore shale gas developments.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP's 'strong' planning team is led by its Birmingham and London offices with Jennifer Ballantyne being the main contact in Scotland. The team's strength lies in advising clients on energy, infrastructure and residential development projects, including contentious work such as planning appeal proceedings. The recommended Gary McGovern is another key member of the team and handles a wide range of planning and environmental law work.

Practice head(s):

Jennifer Ballantyne

Other key lawyers:

Gordon McCreath; Jacqueline Harris; Gary McGovern


Provides the breadth and depth of expertise the client requires.

Provides tailored advice.

Gordon McCreath is strategic, tactical and commercial.

Key clients


Seagreen Wind Energy

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Barratt Homes / David Wilson Homes

CALA Group

Aberdeen Harbour Board

Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm


Work highlights

  • Advising Dumfries and Galloway Council on the promotion of the Whitesands Flood Protection and Regeneration Scheme under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 including representation at an inquiry.
  • Advising on all consenting and offshore property matters of this 3.5GW offshore wind project.
  • Acted for the client in an appeal against a decision of South Lanarkshire Council to refuse planning permission for a sand and gravel quarry at Overburns Farm, Biggar.
  • Advising WDL on the next phases of its major urban regeneration project at Winchburgh, West Lothian, including the remediation of Auldcathie landfill site, the construction of the next phases of residential development and supporting infrastructure.
  • Advising CALA West on contentious planning matters, including a planning appeal against the decision by East Dunbartonshire Council to refuse planning permission for 135 residential units at Jellyhill, Bishopbriggs.

Anderson Strathern

Led by Alastair McKie, the team at Anderson Strathern has notable expertise in advising public and private sector clients, including developers, utility providers and private clients, on contentious and non-contentious planning law matters pertaining to residential, commercial and leisure development projects. Handling energy, waste and transport sector work constitutes another key area of expertise.

Practice head(s):

Alastair McKie

Other key lawyers:

Audrey Cameron; Fiona Stephen; Neil Amner

Key clients

Victoria Square Woking

Buccleuch Estates

Livos Energy

The City of Edinburgh Council


Ross Estates

Edinburgh Airport

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority

Pow of Inchaffray Commissioners

Chemring Energetics

Dundas Estates

Work highlights

  • Providing advice on a multi-million pound re-development in Woking town centre to transform it into a modern retail, residential and commercial centre.
  • Provided strategic advice on the presentation of the grounds of appeal following the refusal by North Lanarkshire Council of a planning application for the Mossend International Railfreight Park; permission has now been granted.
  • Acting on behalf of 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).
  • Providing planning law advice on a range of large scale developments.
  • Advising Livos Energy on its major wind farm development at Howpark in the Scottish Borders which was granted planning permission on appeal.

MacRoberts LLP

Handling contentious planning applications and compulsory purchase matters is MacRoberts LLP's area of particular strength, leading to regular instructions from private developers and public sector clients, but the team, led by senior associate Keith Campbell , also provides assistance with non-contentious planning matters, most notably those pertaining to energy,  renewables, minerals and residential housing developments.

Practice head(s):

Keith Campbell

Other key lawyers:

Martin Sales

Key clients

The Scottish Government

Breedon Northern

Wood Group

M-I Drilling Fluids/ Schlumberger

Muirden Energy

Tillicoultry Quarries

Community Windpower

The Scottish Salmon Company

Dundas Estates & Development

Partnerships for Renewables

Work highlights

  • Acting for Schiehallion in objecting to a compulsory purchase order promoted by the Scottish Government to facilitate dualling of the A9 trunk road.
  • Acted in the public inquiry into the application for the Drum Hollistan wind farm, Caithness.
  • Advising Schlumberger on the planning and road aspects of the development of a deep barite mine in the Loch Tummel National Scenic Area of Perthshire.
  • Advised the client on planning matters concerning the establishment of a large portfolio of battery storage and electricity peaking plants of several hundred MWs.

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP's team, led by onshore wind planning expert Fraser Gillies, has substantial expertise in the renewable energy sector and handles a wide range of planning matters, including public inquiries and planning appeals.

Practice head(s):

Fraser Gillies

Key clients

Fred. Olsen Renewables


innogy Renewables UK

Muirhall Energ


Forsa Energy

Brookfield Renewable UK

Energiekontor UK

Coriolis Energy

vento ludens

Work highlights

  • Represented Fred Olsen Renewables at the public inquiry into its proposed Windy Standard III Wind Farm.
  • Advised Coriolis Energy on its proposed Dell wind farm in the Highlands.
  • Represented RES at the public inquiry into the proposed Killean Wind Farm in Argyll and Bute.
  • Providing advice on the proposed Harryburn Wind Farm in South Lanarkshire, including representation at the public inquiry into the s36 application.
  • Advising Forsa on its proposed Gilston Wind Farm in the Scottish Borders.

Addleshaw Goddard

'Extremely knowledgeable and diligent' planning team head Sarah Baillie at Addleshaw Goddard is an accredited specialist in planning law by the Law Society of Scotland and is also a chartered town planner with corporate membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute. This expertise leads to a steady flow of mandates on various development projects across Scotland, including housing and regeneration, infrastructure and transport as well as energy and retail. The 'strong' team also provides assistance with appeals and legal challenges to planning and other statutory consents.

Practice head(s):

Sarah Baillie


Sarah Baillie brings unique breadth of experience and knowledge and is easy to work with.

Provides practical guidance through the planning process, knows the associated risks and how to mitigate them.

The team has a pragmatic and solution-finding ethos.

Sound, reliable advice delivered in a timely fashion, always on scope and in accordance with agreed terms.

Key clients


Aldi Stores


Scotland Gas Networks (SGN)

Red Rock Power


Pentland Studios

British Telecommunications

Legal & General

Highlands and Islands Airports

Work highlights

  • Advising SGN on consenting matters relating to its gas transmission asset portfolio which distributes gas to 5.9 million homes and businesses.
  • The team continues to be the sole planning advisor to Aldi for its store acquisition and development programme for Aldi’s Scottish region.
  • Advising the developer for Scotland’s first film studio complex, covering contentious and non-contentious planning matters; this includes the development plan promotion and examination, the planning appeal following its call-in by Scottish Ministers together with negotiating the planning agreement.  
  • Advising Burcote on its onshore wind portfolio across Scotland along with JV Partner ERG (Italy’s largest wind farm operator). Recently, this included advice on a 50MW wind farm application, a public local inquiry, planning appeals and a 48MW wind farm development.
  • The team continues to advise on the £500m+development and master planning of a new town at Stratton, near Inverness. This involves the development of 2,750 houses, an 80 bed hotel, a new town centre, church, school, community building, major supermarket, retail, commercial and office space.

Davidson Chalmers Stewart

Davidson Chalmers Stewart is adept at handling planning law aspects of residential and commercial development projects, alongside energy and leisure sector matters, and regularly acts for developers and landowners. Director Jacqueline Cook, who joined the firm in May 2018 from Pinsent Masons LLP, heads the team.

Practice head(s):

Jacqueline Cook

Other key lawyers:

Caroline Court; Stephanie Mackenzie

Key clients

Tartan Leisure

Peveril Securities (KSR) Edinburgh

Portobello Sands

J W Muir Group

Peel Group

RT Overseas Settlement

Story Homes

Ark Hill Wind Farm

Ury Estate

Guinness Asset Management

Work highlights

  • Advising on the development of the first inland, artificial surf lagoon in Scotland at the former Ratho Quarry, Edinburgh; this includes a number of corporate, property, planning, environmental and construction issues.
  • Advising Peel Energy on all its renewable energy projects in Scotland, including its planning application for the Mossy Hill wind farm on Shetland, a 12 wind turbine proposal with a total capacity of up to 50MW.
  • Advising on various non-contentious planning issues pertaining to the client’s property activities.
  • Acted for the landowners affected by a planning application to the Scottish Ministers for the 499MW Red John Pumped Storage Hydro facility near Loch Ness.
  • Advising on all property and planning aspects of a 165 ha site outside Inverness.


Primarily acting for developers as well as commercial and housebuilder clients, Dentons is regularly instructed to assist with planning agreements, compulsory purchase issues and judicial reviews, and provide strategic development advice. Stephen Ashworth and Roy Pinnock co-head the team from London following Gillian Simpson's retirement in March 2019.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Ashworth; Roy Pinnock

Other key lawyers:

Fiona Gordon

Key clients

Avant (Homes) Scotland

Robertson Regeneration

Union Square Developments

The Prudential/ M&G Real Estate

Persimmon Homes

Barratt Homes

Aberdeen Standard Investments

Peel Retail Developments

CALA Homes/ Lynch Homes

JD Wetherspoon

Work highlights

  • Advising a consortium of developers on policy and planning procedure issues pertaining to the development of the East Kilbride Community Growth Area.
  • Represented the landowner and developer of an existing mixed-use development on its extension proposals.
  • Representing The Prudential Assurance Company on planning matters relating to the development of The Haymarket site, Edinburgh.
  • Advising J D Wetherspoon on a judicial review challenge affecting its hotel development site in Jamaica Street, Glasgow.
  • Assisting the client with negotiating a section 75 agreement for a new housing development at Philipshill, South Lanarkshire.

Gillespie Macandrew LLP

Gillespie Macandrew LLP is experienced in handling contentious planning matters, including judicial reviews, but the team also provides advice on planning permissions and related matters to landowners, housebuilders and developers alongside energy and public sector clients. Colin Hamilton heads the team.

Practice head(s):

Colin Hamilton

Other key lawyers:

Isobell Reid

Key clients

Seagreen Wind Energy

No Kingsford Stadium

Teddy Morgan Ltd t/a The Sub Club

Dalmore Capital

Viking Energy Windfarm


Work highlights

  • Assisted the client with various matters including a judicial review concerning the Forth and Tay offshore wind farms and planning permission issues pertaining to the Seagreen onshore corridor.
  • Advice on challenging the decision to grant planning permission for a proposed stadium development by Aberdeen Football Club.
  • Provided advice on an application for planning permission for a proposed hotel development by J D Wetherspoons which the client, the proprietor of nearby nightclub premises, objected to. When permission was granted, the team acted for the client in challenging the decision.
  • Advising on all aspects of the client’s 450MW wind farm development.

Harper Macleod LLP

The team at Harper Macleod LLP is co-led by Peter Ferguson, who handles advisory and transactional work, and 'highly experienced' main contact for planning litigation Jennifer Jack. Acting for a large third- and public-sector client roster, typical instructions include assistance with judicial reviews, public inquiries, appeal proceedings against refusal of planning permission, objections to planning applications and transactional support work.

Practice head(s):

Peter Ferguson; Jennifer Jack


Provides a good and consistent service.

Peter Ferguson has great skill and attention to detail.

Key clients

Scottish Natural Heritage

Historic Environment Scotland

Cairngorms National Park Authority

Dumfries and Galloway Council

Moray Council

West Lothian Council

The Highland Council

Glasgow City Council

Forestry Commission Scotland

Fred. Olsen Renewables

Work highlights

  • Representing Historic Environment Scotland in a public inquiry arising from a planning appeal on the proposed re-development of the former Royal High School of Edinburgh (RHS).
  • Advising RZSS on the planning application for a proposed residential development adjacent to Edinburgh Zoo, which was considered likely to adversely affect the Zoo’s giant pandas.
  • Representing SNH in a public inquiry regarding an application for a planning permission for a proposed golf course at Coul Links, near Dornoch, which has been called in by the Scottish Government.
  • Successfully defending an action for judicial review raised by Wm Grant & Sons pertaining to the proposed Dorenell wind farm.
  • Represented the council in an appeal brought by the operator of a holiday park who had been refused planning permission for the installation of hot tubs, decking and ancillary development at its holiday lodge park.