Our Planning Team is at the leading edge of developments in planning law to ensure pragmatism and efficiency of advice. The team includes several former local authority in-house lawyers, which means they are well placed to advise all sides of a planning issue in order to achieve objectives.
We work with developers and local planning authorities on a range of issues, along with third parties wishing to comment or object on development proposals including issues relating to compulsory purchase and compensation.
- Negotiation of planning applications and enforcement
- Environmental impact assessment
- Planning obligations/section 106 agreements
- Compulsory purchase
- Advising on the Community Infrastructure Levy
- Lawful development / use certificates (CLEUDs and CLOPUDs)
- Social housing
- Planning appeals and public inquiries
- Local development framework representations
- Judicial reviews and high court challenges
- Highways law
- Listed buildings and conservation law
- Commons, town and village greens
- Harbour Revision, Empowerment and Closure Orders
- Marine Licensing and Planning
- Assets of Community Value Nomination Representations and Listing Reviews
- Advising the local planning authority in connection with the redevelopment of the Empress State Building in Earls Court, including a section 106 agreement providing off site affordable housing, financial contributions and linking the proposal with the wider Earls Court redevelopment.
- Undertaking section 288 challenges for developer clients on sites in St Austell, Swindon and Wincanton in respect of both Inspector and Secretary of State decisions and advising a developer in Devon in respect of such a challenge brought by an environmental group.
- Negotiating, on behalf of a housebuilder client, a section 106 Agreement for 500 home site in Somerset with both District and County Councils including affordable housing and various infrastructure contributions.
- Advising a social housing company on their acquisition of new affordable housing units on a multi-developer site at Emerson's Green, Bristol. The site comprises a 99 hectare urban extension comprising employment, schools, housing, community facilities, transportation infrastructure, and open space. The matter included a the provision of a s106 Agreement that provides for provision of the amenities plus £33million of contributions.
Localism and housing delivery - popularity over progress
In a bold statement given by the Communities Secretary at the Conservative Party Conference on 5 October,, Sajid Javid pledged to take unprecedented steps to boost housing delivery.Read more
Amalgamation of dwellings constitutes material change of use
A perennial thorny planning law question is whether the amalgamation of two or more dwellings into one requires planning permission.Read more
Planning conditions: a sting in the tailpiece
Planning conditions commonly include "tailpiece" wording along the lines of "unless otherwise approved in writing by the local planning authority", primarily to allow flexibility should changes be required later on in the development process.Read more
New planning freedoms
In light of recent events with Brexit and changes in government, a potentially far reaching provision of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 has come into force on the 13 July 2016, which you may not be aware of.Read more
Blowing the whistle on report writing for Planning Committees
The case of R (Hill) v Cornwall Council and another  EWHC 1264 (Admin) serves as a useful reminder of the relevant principles that those preparing a report for a public body should have in mind when taking a decision that they are required to take. It is also a good guide to those contemplating a legal challenge.Read more
Battle of the Paddles: Lords-v-Commons, Planning Matter Discussions
In readiness for this summer's Olympics in Rio, the House of Lords and the House of Commons have been practising their ping-pong (or whiff-whaff according to Boris Johnson) using the Planning and Housing Bill as the ball.Read more
S106 Dispute Resolution Procedure
An amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill has sought to introduce a section 106 dispute resolution procedure.Read more
A Year On: What's Changed?
As the new year is now in full swing, it seems appropriate to reflect on some of the major legal changes of the last year and the likely consequences for planning in 2016.Read more
Compensation under the Compulsory Purchase Act where Compulsory Purchase Powers have expired and have never been exercised
On 22 February 2016, the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) handed down its decision in relation to five preliminary issues in this case, which involves a £15 million claim for compensation for injurious affection pursuant to s10 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 ("CPA").Read more
Neighbour from hell? Try living next door to the French Embassy
Self-made billionaire property tycoon, Jon Hunt, founder of Foxtons estate agents, is in a ferocious legal battle with the French ambassador, Sylvie Bermann.Read more
The significance of Common Land and Town and Village Greens
The law surrounding 'Common Land' and 'Town and Village Greens' is complex. At the time of writing there are two pieces of relevant legislation which are central to governing the regime for the registration and management of common land and greens.Read more
Pooling Contributions: Regulation 123 of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010
The Review Panel appointed by the Department for Communities and Local Government has recently concluded the first stage of the "Community Infrastructure Levy Review".Read more
Starter Homes: Good Start or Non Starter?
The Housing and Planning Bill, currently passing through Parliament, is adding to the different types of affordable housing. It is about to create a new creature of statute, the "starter home".Read more
Building your own home – what can Councils do to help?
Many self-build registers are now set up, and the government’s self-build portal lists much of the country as having minimal plots available. Writing before the government announced its plan to directly commission the construction of ‘starter’ homes on publicly owned land Partner and Head of Planning at Ashfords LLP, John Bosworth and Trainee Solicitor, Lee Ward discuss what Councils can now do to help potential self-builders.Read more
Self-build and Custom Housebuilding
On 1 April 2016 the remaining provisions of the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 will come into force.Read more
Is law reform the only hope for Britain’s architectural glories?
Britain’s rich collection of listed buildings is at risk of neglect, with debate raging over whether legislation is required to rescue the country’s architectural heritage.Read more
Should councils consider greater use of temporary stop notices?
It is important to recognise that where there is an alleged breach of planning control local planning authorities are responsible, in the public interest, for deciding what (if any) enforcement action should be taken.Read more
Case Comment: EIA Screening Decisions - The duty to give reasons
The Court of Appeal decision in Jedwell v Denbighshire County Council & Ors , which overturned the decision handed down by the Administrative Court, during Judicial Review proceedings, earlier this year, highlights the importance for planning officers to provide adequate reasoning when making a determination that an Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") is not required.Read more
High Court considers whether basement extensions fall within Permitted Development Rights
Permitted Development Rights provide an exception to the general rule that planning permission is required for any Development (as defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ("TCPA") on land.Read more
Planning Enforcement Fund - Ashfords offer a joint fixed fee service for Local Planning Authorities
Ashfords in conjunction with 39 Essex Chambers are offering a joint fixed fee service which enables Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to take advantage of a new £1m Government fund for securing injunctions in planning enforcement matters.Read more
Support for the Garden bridge
A new charity, the Garden Bridge Trust, has applied for planning permission for a pedestrian footbridge across the River Thames linking Temple London Underground Station directly with an area of land on the southern embankment in front of ITV Studios.Read more
10-unit threshold introduced for Section 106 affordable housing + tariff style contributions
On 28th November 2014 the Department for Communities and Local Government ("DCLG") published revised planning guidance introducing a new 10-unit threshold for Section 106 affordable housing and tariff-style contributions aimed at reducing planning costs for small scale and self-build development.Read more
SuDs Consultation: implementation through changes to the planning regime?
As part of the Government’s initiative to implement sustainable drainage systems ("SuDs") the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ("Defra") and the Department for Communities and Local Government ("DCLG") have launched a joint consultation setting out a possible approach for implementing SuDs, and mechanisms for ensuring their long term maintenance, through changes to the current planning regime.Read more
Navigating the right path to escape the CIL maze unscathed
Recent appeal decisions published by the Planning Inspectorate have highlighted the appeal process under regulations 117 to 119 of the Community Infrastructure Levy ("CIL") Regulations 2010 and the importance of adhering to the mechanics of the procedures set out within the CIL Regulations 2010.Read more
Court of Appeal confirms 'Murfitt' principle
John Bosworth, partner at Ashfords LLP and Stephen Jefferson a solicitor at Ashfords LLP, consider the recent Court of Appeal judgment Kestrel Hydro v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Spelthorne Borough Council  EWCA Civ 784.Read more
Consultation on Proposals for Pre-commencement Planning Conditions
In the budget delivered by the then Chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, in March 2016 the Government announced its aim to minimise delays caused in the planning system by pre-commencement planning conditions. Mr Osborne announced that it intended to legislate to "ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions can only be used with the agreement of the developer."Read more
Common Land: Removal of wrongly registered land
The law surrounding land designated as common land is complex. The registration of land as common land has important implications for the Landowner including a restriction on their ability to develop and use the land.Read more
East Devon Launches Consultation on Villages Plan
East Devon District Council ("EDDC") has launched a consultation on its draft East Devon Villages Plan ('the Draft Plan'), which can be read here. The consultation opened on 3 August, and runs until 28 September 2016.Read more
S73 Applications and consents granted under a Development Order
A recent decision of the High Court in Pressland v The Council of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham  EWHC 1763 (Admin) has held that an application made under S73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ("TCPA 1990") may be made to develop land without compliance with conditions attached to a permission granted by a development order.Read more
Lawful Development Certificates - An Overview
Lawful development certificates are certificates issued by local planning authorities which certify that a proposed or existing development is lawful. They can be useful to those thinking of developing their land and / or considering whether a proposed or existing use or operation is lawful, perhaps in anticipation of selling or purchasing land.Read more
What Do the Recent Changes in the Political Landscape Mean for Planning Reform?
The next few years are provisionally set to see a significant overhaul of the planning system, as many of the key proposals in the previous Government's ongoing programme of planning reform are due to be implemented.Read more
NPPG updated to reintroduce small site exemption and vacant building credit
On 19 May 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government made several changes to National Planning Practice Guidance ("NPPG") including the reintroduction of the small site exemption for affordable housing contributions and "vacant building credit."Read more
Residents able to rely on restrictive covenants to prevent residential extension
A recent case has demonstrated the difficulties posed when restrictive covenants and planning permission are operated independently of each other.Read more
CLG Committee Inquiry
On 5 July 2016 the Communities and Local Government Committee launched an inquiry into the capacity of the housebuilding industry to meet demand for new homes because, as its tweet on the matter states, 'Not enough homes are being built in England.'Read more
Section 106 Agreements: A Short Guide
This article summarises some of the main powers and practices relating to the use of section 106 agreements.Read more
All change again - The Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill
Following a swathe of political ping pong, the much anticipated Housing And Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.Read more
South Somerset District Council submits its Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule
On 27 May 2016 South Somerset District Council ('the Council') submitted its draft CIL Charging Schedule ('the Schedule') to the Secretary of State.Read more
All tied up? Section 106 Agreements Preventing Disposal of Agricultural Holdings unless Sold as a Whole
There has been a recent shift in the Government's approach to agricultural ties. Where it was previously acceptable for Local Planning Authorities ("LPA") to impose planning obligations which restricted the sale of agricultural holdings, unless otherwise disposed as a whole, this may no longer be required. New tests and guidance may make a development acceptable in planning terms.Read more
National Infrastructure Commission launches National Infrastructure Assessment Consultation
The government is in the process of establishing the National Infrastructure Commission ('the Commission') by legislation. In the meantime it is operating in 'interim' form, with Lord Adonis appointed as its interim chair.Read more
Court of Appeal restores policy exempting small sites from affordable housing
The Government has won its appeal to the Court of Appeal against the quashing of its policy that small sites should not contribute towards affordable housing.Read more
Privatising the planning system?
One of the measures in the Housing and Planning Bill 2016 which has created the most controversy is the Government's intention to open up the planning system to competition. It is proposed, in pilot areas, to test the benefit of competition by allowing the processing - not determination - of planning applications other than by Local Planning Authorities ("LPAs").Read more
Planning Inspectorate Update April 2016
Steve Quartermain sent a general planning update to local authorities earlier this month (April 2016), outlining planning developments over the past six months.Read more
DCLG consults on Starter Homes Regulations
We wrote on 22 January 2016 about the Starter Homes provisions contained in the Housing and Planning Bill (see 'Starter Homes: Good Start or Non Starter?').Read more
My Beautiful Launderette: New Permitted Development Rights introduced from 6 April 2016
From 6 April 2016, amendments are made to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 ("GPDO 2015"). The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) Order 2016 ("the Amending Order") introduces new PD rights as well as putting the existing office to residential right on a permanent footing. We look at the key changes below.Read more
High Court rules that Council's CIL demand is unlawful
In the recent case of R (Orbital Shopping Park Swindon Ltd) v Swindon Borough Council the High Court has ruled that the demand for CIL payments by Swindon Borough Council for the Claimant's installation of a mezzanine floor was unlawful.Read more
Housing and Planning Bill: DCLG Consultation on implementation of planning changes
On the 18 February 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on the implementation in England of the planning changes within the Housing and Planning Bill.Read more
Housing and Planning Bill Consultation: Permission in Principle
The Housing and Planning Bill, as currently drafted, introduces a new 'permission in principle' route for obtaining planning permission in respect of 'housing led' developments.Read more
Renewable Energy: Government Review of Tidal Lagoons announced
On Wednesday 10 February the Government announced that it will launch an independent review into the feasibility and practicality of tidal lagoon energy in the UK this spring.Read more
Proceeds of Crime and Planning
It is now accepted that a Confiscation Order under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 ("POCA") can be applied for when someone fails to comply with the terms of an enforcement notice and financially benefits from their unlawful activity.Read more
The Energy Bill 2015/2016 - Key Policy Area Fact Sheets Published
On 12 January 2016 the Department of Energy and Climate Change ("DECC") published fact sheets providing an overview of key policy areas in the Energy Bill 2015/2016 and Keeling Schedules to illustrate how primary legislation would be amended by clauses in the Bill.Read more
Permission in principle: One step removed from prior approval and permitted development?
It's been just over 9 weeks since the Housing and Planning Bill was introduced into the House of Commons. One of the main talking points, which followed the first reading, was the proposed introduction of "permission in principle".Read more
Spreading roots - current issues surrounding planning requirements for basement extensions
As property prices escalate, particularly in London, more people are considering extending their properties underground to increase floor space and create a more comfortable living environment.Read more
Will new planning laws make any difference?
No sooner had the prime minister delivered his speech on the planning system than the Housing and Planning Bill was introduced in the House of Commons last week.Read more
Commercial Office or New Home?
In 2013 the government introduced temporary permitted developments rights which allowed property owners to convert office premises into new homes without having to apply for planning permission.Read more
Court of Appeal says "I'm Your Man"…but only where there is no alleged change of use
Local planning authorities may take enforcement action where development appears to have taken place without planning permission or where conditions attached to a planning permission have not been complied with. 'Development' is defined in section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act as " the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations… or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land."Read more
Deemed Discharge of Planning Conditions
The Government has introduced the principle of deemed discharge into the Town and County Planning Act 1990 (by way of the Infrastructure Act 2015) and consolidated and reissued the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015 (the "DMPO 2015") to provide the detail on how deemed discharge works in practice. The new legislation comes into effect on 15 April 2015.Read more
High Court guidance for local authorities unable to defend JR proceedings due to "financial reasons"
In the recent decision of R (on the application of Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Forest of Dean District Council and Trilogy the High Court provided direction to local authorities prevented from defending their decisions in judicial review proceedings because of financial constraints.Read more
Concealment: High Court confirms Welwyn has not been replaced
Local planning authorities may take enforcement action where development appears to have taken place without planning permission or where conditions attached to a planning permission have not been complied with. In the case of the change of use of a building to a single dwellinghouse, once the unauthorised use has continued for four years without any enforcement action being taken the development becomes immune from enforcement.Read more
Adopted Public Highway - Payment of Commuted Sums
Section 38 of the Highways Act 1980 is the usual means by which highway authorities agree with a developer to adopt a road; that is the point at which the road becomes maintainable at the public expense. The traditional understanding had been that the highway authority agrees that provided the road is constructed to a pre-agreed standard by the developer, it will accept the adoption, with the highway authority then becoming responsible for its future maintenance.Read more