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 use certificates
  • 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

Relevant work

  • 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.   


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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Case Comment: EIA Screening Decisions - The duty to give reasons

The Court of Appeal decision in Jedwell v Denbighshire County Council & Ors [2015], 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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