Spotlight on… Gemma Dudley

30th October 2023

This month, we shine the spotlight on Gemma Dudley, Partner in the Planning, Highways and Environment team.

1. What type of legal advice do you provide?

I specialise in planning, highways and environmental law. This can entail general, strategic advice in relation to planning applications and the development of planning policy, right through to the negotiation of Section 106 and other infrastructure agreements.

I also deal with contentious matters such as planning appeals, enforcement matters, statutory challenges and Judicial Reviews and provide advice as to how to best avoid such challenges when formulating planning proposals.

Most recently, I have been on the cutting-edge of devising solutions for Biodiversity Net Gain delivery and management, including the creation of my first Biodiversity Net Gain land bank.

2. Why did you choose your specialism?

The great thing about planning is that it is very political – and therefore constantly changing. I enjoy the challenge of keeping up to speed with this dynamic area of the law. I also like the diversity of working on both contentious and non-contentious matters.

3. What type of work does your team do that is relevant to Homes England? Or have you been involved in any Homes England projects?

I have been involved in Homes England projects throughout my entire career and have therefore worked on a number of significant projects throughout the country.  This has involved working alongside the project team in the preparation and scrutiny of planning applications, and developing strategies for dealing with any pitfalls around possible grounds for Judicial Review.

I have extensive experience of drafting and negotiating Section 106 Agreements, as well as other highways and infrastructure agreements, and have also been involved in Judicial Reviews and other contentious matters for Homes England.

4. What was your most memorable outcome for a client and why?

My most memorable outcome was securing a Compulsory Purchase Order for a local authority client. The land involved was derelict and in unknown ownership and the local authority wanted to see it redeveloped to provide much needed housing. We therefore secured the Order under Section 228 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 on the grounds that it would meet the interests of proper planning of the area.

Due to an objection from a neighbouring landowner seeking to claim adverse possession of some of the land, a public inquiry was held and we successfully argued that the Compulsory Purchase Order should be confirmed. It was very rewarding to see an underused piece of brownfield land put to good use.

5. How have you supported your local community?

One highly rewarding aspect of my career has been to help the community understand and engage with the planning process, enabling them to have an influence over the future development of their areas. This helps to build trust and cooperation in the development process and ultimately leads to more successful outcomes that give something back to the community and the environment.

6. Why do you think a commitment to helping the planet is important? Can you give any examples where you have made a change to help the planet?

It is clearly very important for us to protect our environment so that we can continue to live in a healthy and safe atmosphere. I believe that reducing reliance on cars is crucial and, given that I live and work in central Cambridge where travel by bicycle is both encouraged and the norm, I have personally found that an easy change to make.

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