Our Planning Team is at the forefront of developments in planning law to ensure pragmatism and efficiency of advice. We work with developers and local planning authorities on contentious and non-contentious issues, along with third parties wishing to comment or object on development proposals. The team includes several former local authority in-house solicitors, and so are well placed to advise all sides on how to achieve their objectives.


  • 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
  • Affordable housing
  • Planning appeals, including written representations, hearings and advocacy at public inquiries
  • Local development framework representations
  • Judicial reviews and high court challenges
  • Highways law
  • Listed buildings and conservation law
  • Commons, town and village greens

Recent 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.

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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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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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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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Office to residential permitted development rights - help for housing or jeopardy for jobs?

Last year the government introduced new permitted development ("PD") rights which, in certain circumstances, allow the conversion of offices to residential dwellings without planning permission. The rights were expressed to be temporary, lasting for three years.

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Government looks at cutting further red tape in planning system

Brandon Lewis MP, the new Housing and Planning Minister, has published a consultation on measures which are designed to make the planning system work more efficiently and effectively.

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"War Horse" wind turbine proposal rejected after Inspector applies recent Court of Appeal guidance

The Planning Inspectorate has dismissed an appeal against a refusal of planning permission for a single wind turbine in Iddesleigh, Devon. The case hit the press after it was revealed that the turbine would be situated in the rural setting of bestselling novel "War Horse". Author Michael Morpurgo was one of numerous objectors to the proposed development.

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How the Growth and Infrastructure Act will affect affordable housing

The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 has introduced a new procedure to renegotiate affordable housing obligations in section 106 agreements, as discussed by Ashfords John Bosworth.

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Royal Academy for Deaf Education launch new building plans

Ashfords are co-sponsoring the launch of plans for the new Academy for Deaf Education. The event will take place at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum with Andrew Rothwell and The Design Team representing the firm.

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Mason Tony 118

Tony Mason

Tony is a Partner in our Planning Team. He qualified in local government at the London Borough of Southwark. It was through his work in local government that Tony developed his skills in Planning, leading to overall responsibility for the legal planning function in two District Councils in Bristol and Somerset. In addition Tony deals with commercial property matters including, in particular, development work.

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"Batty" permitted development rights coming home to roost?

Gareth Pinwell outlines the interaction of the habitats directive and recently announced changes to permitted development.

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Supreme Court to consider whether absence of EIA and Appropriate Assessment was irrationally inconsistent with conditions imposed

The case arose out of the granting of planning permission for a lorry park, barley silos with wash bay and ancillary facilities; the proposed development being 400m away from the River Wensum, a Site of Special Scientific Interest ("SSSI") and a designated EU Special Area of Conversation ("SAC"). The claimant, Matthew Champion, a member of the Ryburgh Village Action Group, sought to quash: (i) the grant of planning permission by North Norfolk District Council, and (ii) the consultation response made by Natural England.

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Occupancy Conditions and Dependents

A recent case has examined what constitutes 'dependency' in the context of agricultural occupancy conditions on dwellings.

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Development consent orders: enforcement

A Development Consent Order ("DCO") is a statutory instrument granted by the Secretary of State to authorise the construction and development of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

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Cherkley golf course development: Court of Appeal redefines meaning of "need" in planning cases

The Court of Appeal has set aside an order quashing planning permission for the development of a hotel and spa complex and an exclusive 18 hole golf course.

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Government announces plans to improve the NSIP regime

The Government has published its response to a consultation reviewing the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project ("NSIP") regime. The consultation followed significant changes made last year, which extended the regime to cover certain business and commercial projects.

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Affordable Housing Policy - Good from afar, far from good?

The Government's official line is aiming to address the need for more affordable housing. However, the consequences of its planning initiatives seem to be largely undermining its provision. John Bosworth, partner and Head of the Planning Team explains why.

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Graham Cridland

Graham began his career with Ashfords before leaving to spend ten years working in Local Government, most notably for Exeter City Council. The desire to work in the private sector took him to Clarke Willmott and Michelmores before returning to Ashfords as a Planning Partner twenty years after leaving.

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Bosworth John 5602


I enjoy the mix of politics and law that you get from working in planning law, and the real need to understand where the other side are coming from in order to achieve your client's objectives.

+44 (0)1392 333842

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Meet the team