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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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United Kingdom > South East > Real estate > Planning > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Planning
  2. Leading individuals: Hall of Fame
  3. Leading individuals
  4. Next generation lawyers

Leading individuals: Hall of Fame

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Leading individuals

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Next generation lawyers

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Blake Morgan LLP attracts praise for providing 'practical advice based on an in-depth understanding and appreciation of legislative issues'. The planning practice acts for a growing number of large corporate clients, including global food producer Kerry Foods, and has a particularly strong reputation for handling judicial review work. Recent highlights include acting for Kerry Ingredients in negotiating an agreement with Network Rail related to a compulsory purchase order affecting land adjacent to and forming part of the manufacturing area operated by Kerry, resulting in the withdrawal of objections to the order by Kerry. It also acted for Vale of White Horse District Council on s106 agreements related to two major housing developments, and assisting BT offshoot Telereal Services with residential unit scheme in Ealing which was the subject of a complex s106 agreement involving connection to a borough-wide heating source network. Guthrie McGruer heads the practice.

Blandy & Blandy LLP's planning team provides 'clear and accurate advice' and 'more than holds its own against City planning teams'. It is regularly involved in strategic planning projects across Reading, where it handles planning strategy and development issues for several landowner clients, including planning appeals, public inquiries and environmental law matters. Recent highlights include advising longstanding client the University of Reading on negotiating a s106 agreement and contractual arrangements taking into account infrastructure delivery obligations for a site at Didcot which will contain up to 1,880 homes, two new primary schools, a secondary school and a neighbourhood centre. It is also acting for Fairfield Parish Council on planning strategy related to various matters, including s106 agreements and advice on village green potential. The practice is headed by the 'resilient' Karen Jones and includes Simon Dimmick, who attracts praise for his 'vast experience'. Associate Victoria Charlesson is 'a rising star in planning law who gives calm, considered advice on complex issues'.

Cripps LLP is particularly noted for its advice to housebuilders and affordable housing providers, although its expertise extends to handling planning issues related to major projects in the retail, leisure and renewable energy sectors. In an illustration of its work on the housebuilding front, practice head Jason Towell acted for Liberty Property Trust a s106 agreement for a new sustainable community in North Horsham, includes 2,750 new homes, a business park in excess of 45,000 sq metres, and retail and community facilities. Other recent highlights include acting for Persimmon Homes and Bovis Homes on the planning strategy and s106 agreement  for a major urban development for 400 dwellings, and assisting Wates Development with securing planning permission for an urban extension of 750 dwellings at Basingstoke. Beth Gascoyne is also recommended.

DMH Stallard LLP's planning team is 'a leader in its field; it provides a high-quality service combined with good commercial sense'. Its expertise covers the full spectrum of planning advice, from site promotion, planning applications and appeals, through to s106 agreements, planning litigation and enforcement. On the contentious front, practice head Heidi Copland ('tactically astute and knows what will work and won't') acted for Angmering Parish Council in two judicial review challenges in the High Court: the first related to the treatment of a neighbourhood plan by the district council, and the second concerned a non-material amendment planning permission, which raised an important point of law as to what can constitute a "non-material amendment". Other recent highlights include acting for Hollamby Estates on planning issues related to a strategic housing allocation on land within the client's ownership, including an appeal against non determination called in by the Secretary of State; advising Liberty Property Trust on the promotion of a 246-hectare site through the Horsham District Planning Framework, including participation in examination hearings; and acting for Reside Developments on the submission of co-joined applications for a new 3G football ground for Horsham Football Club and enabling development of 58 new houses on the club's existing ground. Chloe Karamian has 'an excellent analytical mind, and is a quick and accurate legal researcher'.

Irwin Mitchell's planning practice acts for clients nationwide on a range of matters, with an emphasis on mixed-use regeneration schemes involving brownfield land. Recent highlights include acting on a flagship regeneration scheme in Croydon, which will involve 794 residential units, as well as 35,000 sq metres of office space, retail, a swimming pool, gym and a public viewing deck; acting for Chippenham Properties and Langley Properties on the development of a former industrial site to include a research and development park and up to 400 new homes; and handling planning issues for the redevelopment of a former industrial site severely damaged by flooding in 2009, which involves major new flood defences, up to 416 dwellings, a creative workspace hub, a medical centre, and a footbridge over the River Ouse. Carl Dyer heads the practice and has an extensive track record in securing planning approval for mixed-use development. Senior associate Nicola Gooch is also recommended.

Shoosmiths LLP fields a team that is 'in the top rank of planning solicitors', and is many clients' 'go-to firm for planning matters'. Headed by Kirsten Hewson ('insightful, proactive and always delivers'), the practice handles public and private sector planning matters for clients including Stonegate Developments, Grainger and the Ministry of Defence. Recent highlights include advising Altitude (Ascot) on a successful appeal against refusal of planning permission for residential development in the Green Belt; continuing to act for Grainger on the Aldershot army town redevelopment, most recently involving a variation to the s106 agreement and advice on the delivery of infrastructure; and acting for Buckland Capital on the promotion planning application for 6,000 residential units at Welborne in Hampshire, which will be one of 14 sites allocated as a garden village in England. Matthew Stimson has 'a wealth of knowledge and is professional in his approach'. Paul Weeks is also recommended.

Clients of Pitmans LLP's planning team are quick to praise it as 'excellent on all fronts'. The practice has an extensive track record handling s106 agreements, providing strategic planning advice on major sites, and acting in judicial review proceedings. Recent work includes acting for Highwood Land on the renegotiation of a s106 agreement for a 700-unit development including affordable housing, local retail, a primary school, community facilities, and a care home, among other facilities; and advising for Redrow Homes on a definitive map modification order application to downgrade the status of an ancient highway to prohibit vehicular use, which if successful would result in serious issues surrounding access for the client when building out the development. Christina Daniels heads the team and is praised for her 'clear communication and knowledge of planning matters'. Daniels is assisted by senior associate Lorna Bowry, who has more than 20 years' experience in regeneration work.

Clarke Willmott LLP has a strong track record advising commercial developers, housebuilders, social housing providers, local planning authorities and food retailers on planning issues arising from development projects, including drafting and negotiating s106 agreements, acting in judicial reviews and handling planning and highways agreements. On the housebuilder front, practice head Neil Baker (who splits his time between the Southampton and Bristol offices) acted for Persimmon on a s106 agreement for a 520-dwelling extension to a new neighbourhood in Andover, and acted for New Forest District Council an a planning agreement for a new residential development of 70 units at Fordingbridge, which involved requirements for part of the land to be used as public open space and strategic alternative natural greenspace. Also recommended are Karen Howe, who is noted for her expertise in highways and public rights of way issues, and Anne Jones, whose sector expertise covers housing, retail, hotel and leisure, minerals and waste.

Holmes & Hills is 'a strong regional player that punches above its weight  and is very well resourced'. Work for local authorities forms a substantial proportion of the planning team's workload, although it also provides a comprehensive service to regional and national landowners and developers. In an illustration of its local authority workload, Michael Harman successfully defended Tendring District Council in an appeal against the issue of an enforcement notice as a result of the refusal of two applications for a certificate of lawful existing use or development. Other highlights included advising an individual in a modification of a restrictive covenant in order to allow the client planning permission for the construction of a mansion and two executive homes on a site located in the Essex Suffolk borders. Practice head Steven Hopkins is 'first-rate; he is experienced, highly capable and has extensive planning knowledge'. David Whipps is 'excellent with clients has a deep understanding of planning policy and law'.

Whitehead Monckton has wide-ranging expertise of contentious and non-contentious construction matters for a strong developer client base, where it acts for housebuilders and regional developers on large-scale residential and mixed-use development schemes. Other areas of expertise include agriculture and farming, and retail, where it acts for regional supermarket chain Jempsons on planning issues related to its expansion programme. Recent highlights include advising FD Attwood & Partners on a successful appeal against refusal to grant permission for a 450-unit residential scheme including affordable housing, estate roads and open space, which has involved issues relating to access over woodland; and advising Park Lane Group on two applications for outline permission for residential development. Vicky Stoodley heads the practice and has a strong track record handling complex s106 agreements.

Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors fields 'a very good all-round planning practice' that provides 'excellent industry knowledge and advice that is focused and appropriate to the matters at hand'. Salvatore Amico ('very smart and clearly building a great practice') and the 'excellent' Rob Jameson act for local authorities, private individuals, property developers, planning consultants and landowners on planning applications and appeals, s106 agreements, and enforcement cases. Recent work includes acting for Maldon District Council on a s106 agreement for a development of more than 1,000 houses, which involved complex management provisions and the delivery of highway amendments; advising a religious trust on planning issues related to a site with development potential, including preparing a strategy for the client taking into consideration the site and the local plan and NPPF policies; and representing a group of concerned residents in opposition to plans for gravel extraction in Bengeo, north of Hertford, arguing that the quarry will affect the water system.

EMW Law LLP handles the full range of planning issues, including representing clients in appeals and examinations. Recent highlights include acting for Marlborough Oasis on a planning application for a mixed-use development for more than 5,000 new dwellings, of which the parcel relating to the client's land comprises 1,500 new dwellings; advising Grand Union Housing Group on planning due diligence related to the group's acquisition of a number of affordable housing sites in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, which involved negotiating variations to several existing s106 planning obligations; and acting for Scania on a s106 agreement for a project to design and construct a new headquarters in Milton Keynes. Marco Mauro heads the practice and has a longstanding track record acting for developers, landowners, investors, financial institutions, occupiers and high-net-worth individuals.

BrookStreet des Roches attracts praise for its 'commercial, pragmatic approach', with practice head Nigel Hewitson singled out for his 'excellent grasp of planning law combined with an understanding of the commercial realities, meaning clients get pragmatic, commercially sensible solutions'. In keeping with the firm's historic strength in real estate matters, the planning practice acts for landowners, promoters and developers in mixed-use developments, and is noted for its strength in the holiday and leisure sector, as well as the retail sector, where it acts for national operators. Recent highlights include acting for Dartmouth Park Estates on planning issues related to a 300-plus unit housing development and, in an illustration of its track record acting for caravan park operators, acted for HH Country Park on planning enforcement action taken by Broadland District Council against one of the operator's sites alleging that caravans intended for holiday use were being occupied as permanent residences.

Lester Aldridge LLP's planning practice regularly acts for developers on a variety of matters, from obtaining planning consents to negotiating infrastructure agreements and advising on the impact of the Community Infrastructure Levy. It also acts for housebuilders and has particular expertise in the ports and marinas and care sectors. Recent highlights on the housbuilder front include advising a consortium of retirement housebuilders in a challenge to the Mayor of London's decision to publish supplementary planning guidance on affordable housing which would have the effect of causing a lack of retirement housing development in London. The practice is also acting for CHG Development on a proposed hotel development, which involved a stopping up application for a parcel of highway land and negotiating with the local planning authority to drop certain issues raised by the authority on the basis that they were not material planning considerations. In an illustration of its ports and marinas sector expertise, it advised a harbour authority on the extent of its permitted development rights under Part 18 of the GDPO, on the basis of powers granted under historic harbour legislation, for the purposes of a new mooring facility. Tom Alder heads the practice and has a wide-ranging track record in contentious and non-contentious planning issues.

Stevens & Bolton LLP provides 'high-quality, client-focused advice', with clients singling out property litigation specialist Helen Wheddon, who 'doesn't miss a beat - she is excellent at making sure her consultants and counsel are up to speed'. The firm recruited the 'excellent' Paul Grant from Coffin Mew LLP to head the practice following the departure of Catherine Davey; Grant has wide-ranging expertise handling planning issues related to sports and leisure developments, as well as major road schemes and judicial review matters. Other areas of expertise for the practice include advising on planning and highway issues, applications for planning permission and appeals, and enforcement matters including stop notices and enforcement appeals.

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