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Work 01223 461155
Fax 01223 316511
133155 CAMBRIDGE 8

Deborah Sharples

Work 01223 461155

Work Department

Planning and environment, regulatory including health and safety.


Head of planning and environment.


Deborah has over twenty five years experience in the fields of planning and environmental law and advises a range of clients including developers and other businesses, public bodies, charities and private individuals in both a rural and an urban context. The combination of experience in planning, environment and other regulatory areas is invaluable in situations where the considerations overlap.


UKELA; associate member Chartered Institution of Wastes Management.


Deborah read law at the University of Birmingham and Chester Law School. She has wide experience in the development of land, waste management, pollution and nuisance including in connection with intensive livestock. She joined Hewitsons in 2002.

East Anglia: Private client

Agriculture and estates

Within: Agriculture and estates

Hewitsons is 'well-placed to advise on all agricultural and rural matters' and it 'provides a high level of advice which represents great value for money'. The firm is on the National Farmers' Union panel for Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk, and has a nationwide client base that includes mixed estates, major producers of cereal, potatoes, herbs, vegetables and livestock, and some of the largest conservation landowners in the UK. Practice head Denise Wilkinson 'demonstrates a broad depth of knowledge and is always pragmatic and astute; her ability to grasp the matter, provide focused advice and get the job completed without any fuss are a testament to her negotiating and advisory skills'. One client notes that 'she is particularly good at understanding clients' objectives and thinking outside the box'.  She recently advised a client on an option agreement for a fracking project, and concluded the purchase of a plot of conservation standard grassland. Clients also praise the wider team, which include Charles Stevens , who handles acquisitions and disposals including some renewable energy projects; consultant Charles Hewitson, who handles trust matters for agricultural clients; regulatory specialist Deborah Sharples; James Lawrence for commercial contracts; property litigator Natalie Minott; and Lucinda Brown, who handles contentious farming trust and probate matters.

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Charities and not-for-profit

Within: Charities and not-for-profit

The firm-wide charities team at¬†Hewitsons¬†is led from Northampton by Chris Knight, and the Cambridge office is home to highly experienced practitioners including rural and property partner¬†Denise Wilkinson, whom clients describe as¬†‚Äėclear-thinking and excellent at spotting risks in land transactions'. The practice has more than¬†400 charity and education clients, among which are¬†RSPB, Canal and River Trust, United Church Schools Trust, United Learning, The Henry Moore Foundation, The Rothschild Foundation, The Thalidomide Trust and Veterans‚Äô Aid, as well as¬†numerous¬†Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Wilkinson recently acted for a nationwide conservation charity in complex property matters relating to reclamation land. This included negotiating a lease from a charitable trust. Senior¬†solicitor¬†Martyn Robinson¬†handles charity formation, amendments to governing documents, incorporations and re-structuring, mergers, academy conversions, and dealings with the Charity Commission. He recently worked with Knight on behalf of long-standing client YMCA Cambridgeshire and Peterborough on its merger with YMCA Suffolk to create YMCA Trinity Group. Planning and environment specialist¬†Deborah Sharples¬†frequently deals with property, planning and and governance issues, and¬†Colin Jones¬†handles construction matters for clients in the not-for-profit sector.

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East Anglia: Real estate


Within: Leading individuals

Deborah Sharples - Hewitsons

Within: Environment

Hewitsons handles every aspect of environmental law and frequently advises clients on compliance with permitting, nuisance and pollution regulations, as well as the defence of claims when offences have been committed. Its work encompasses contentious, non-contentious and criminal matters, and the practice undertakes its own advocacy in the Magistrates’ Court and in public inquiries concerning environmental permitting. It is well-known for its work in the intensive livestock industry, for which it receives referrals from national representative bodies such as the NPA and the NFU, as well as from private consultancies. In 2017, it handled work for pig and poultry enterprises in East Anglia and beyond. One source remarks that practice head Deborah Sharples is 'one of the most knowledgeable lawyers in this field of law; her experience and her attention to detail cannot be bettered'. Her recent work included representing Therfield Regulation Trust in a public inquiry regarding its efforts to deregister common land for development, along with a project to improve the ecology of the remainder of the site. She also counts Homes England, Saint-Gobain Building Distribution and Max Recycling among her clients.

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Within: Planning

The practice at¬†Hewitsons¬†is 'very good ‚Äď helpful, diligent and practical'. The firm is known for 'comprehensive advice and, importantly, firm recommendations as opposed to just a list of options' and one client remarks that 'work is always done to a very high standard and the team understands developers' needs and perspectives and gives well researched, practical, clear and insightful legal advice'. That work includes¬†large-scale development projects, including residential and mixed use urban expansions, and the firm acts for¬†Homes England in substantial regeneration projects.¬†Leading light Deborah Sharples¬†(who delivers 'fresh thinking and sensible advice')¬†and 'pragmatic and professional' senior associate¬†Gemma Dudley¬†are 'client-friendly and have good attention to detail'. 'Her knowledge under scrutiny is to be applauded,' says a client of Dudley who 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'. The practice's recent highlights include advising Homes England on the proposed development of a 330-hectare former military site at Lodge Hill Camp in Kent to create 2,000 new homes. Another matter involved advising trustees of a landowner on¬†a Section 106 agreement relating to a development of 279 houses and serviced land for a primary school in which provisions are to be made for affordable housing, financial payments, children‚Äôs outdoor play space, the school, fire hydrants and a travel plan.

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