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Planning, Highways and Environment

We provide advice in the specialist and complex areas of planning, highways, and environmental law. We have years of experience in representing all parties in the development process, and our team has been recognised by Chambers and Partners, and Legal 500 for its expertise.

Our Experience

We advise on every aspect of planning and highways law. This could be negotiating planning or highways works agreements, guidance over the threat of compulsory purchase, or helping you to tackle legal issues that may be preventing development, like public rights of way, village green or asset of community value applications or designations such as tree preservation orders or conservation areas. Where necessary, we’ll also challenge unlawful planning decisions in court or assist you defend against enforcement action.

We’ll work with you to get a full idea of your end goals from the start. That way, we’ll spot any issues that could affect future development of your land and deal with them quickly and efficiently.

We can help you with:

Planning and Compulsory Purchase

  • Planning strategy advice, including legal support with planning applications and appeals, interpreting permitted development rights and Community Infrastructure Levy liability
  • Interpretation of planning permissions and conditions, and advice on safeguarding planning consents
  • Drafting and negotiating section 106 agreements and unilateral undertakings
  • Bringing and defending legal claims including judicial reviews and statutory challenges
  • Planning enforcement issues and Certificates of Lawfulness
  • Promoting or objecting to Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), Development Consent Orders and Transport and Works Act Orders
  • Advising on CPO compensation rights and maximising compensation including applications for certificates of appropriate alternative development, blight notices and references to the Upper Tribunal
  • Advice on heritage issues, including in relation to listed buildings, conservation areas, and scheduled ancient monuments.

Rosalind Andrews

Partner, Head of Planning, Highways & Environment

Direct Dial: +44 1905 744 868
Mobile: +44 7872 871 091

How can I protect my land against the public acquiring rights?

There are a number of ways to stop footpaths or other recreational rights being acquired, without having to exclude the public from your land. Though signage is a commonly used option, the wording is crucial. There are also more straightforward options to protect against both footpaths and village green rights. Talk to us about the other approaches available.

I’ve received a Planning Enforcement Notice. What should I do?

Take advice now. There’s a very short timescale in which to lodge an appeal and missing the deadline means you must do what the notice says or face potential criminal liability.
It’s usually worth appealing as you may be able to get it overturned on numerous grounds. If the worst happens, an appeal could give you more time before you need to comply with the notice.

I want to convert my agricultural barn into a residential dwelling under permitted development rights. Is there anything I need to know before I submit the application for Prior Approval?

Yes, there are very specific legal requirements to qualify for permitted development rights such as whether the barn really has been used for sole agricultural use at the required dates. We can help you work through all of the detail and the expected requirements to give you the best chance of getting the result you want.

What is a Section 106 Agreement, and why am I being asked to sign one?

A Section 106 Agreement is an agreement entered into when the local planning authority is thinking of granting planning permission, but there are a few issues to overcome. It is entered into by the landowner who owns the planning application site, the local planning authority (which may be the District or Borough Council, or County Council, or both), and anyone else who owns a legal interest in land.

The point of the Agreement is to mitigate the impact of the proposed development. If the application is for new housing, this might be to provide funds for local schools to make sure there are enough school places for the new residents, or to provide new parks or other facilities as part of the new development. There are a wide range of different things which can be included in a Section 106 Agreement, but they have to all be things which are needed as a result of the new development being built.

The Section 106 Agreement will usually need to be signed by mortgage companies, and any tenants with long leases, as well as the freehold owners. It will also bind future owners of the site, and so it is important to take legal advice before signing a Section 106 Agreement to ensure that you do not burden your land, and make it difficult to sell in the future.

Highways Works Agreements: what is the difference between a Section 38 Agreement and a Section 278 Agreement?

A Section 278 Agreement is an agreement relating to the carrying out of highways works which are entirely within the existing adopted highway.

A Section 278 Agreement would usually be requested by a developer who requires the highways works to be completed in order to develop a nearby site. These works may involve the creation of a new access to a site from an existing highway, or may involve the carrying out of capacity improvement or highways safety work to accommodate the increase in traffic in the locality resulting from the development.

A Section 38 Agreement, on the other hand, provides a mechanism for landowners to dedicate, and for the local highways authority to agree to adopt a new road to be maintained at the public expense, provided that the road is built to the required specification. This is commonly needed for new housing developments where the developer is building a new access road on the site.

There are a few differences between the two types of agreement, and you should always seek legal advice before signing one. One major point to be aware of is that it is a criminal offence to carry out any work to an existing highway without entering into a Section 278 Agreement or obtaining another form of consent.

Planning permission has been granted for a scheme I don’t like – can I apply for judicial review?
If planning permission has been granted for a scheme you don’t like, there is no right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, and so the only option for challenging the decision is in the Planning Court.

Where planning permission has been granted by a Council, any legal challenge is by way of an application for Judicial Review. If planning permission has been granted on appeal, the legal challenge is made by way of statutory challenge pursuant to Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).

In either case, there is a very strict deadline for submitting the challenge to Court of six weeks starting the day after planning permission is granted. There is no option to extend this in a Section 288 application, and very, very limited options in relation to Judicial Review.

If you are considering pursuing a legal challenge, you should take legal advice as soon as possible after planning permission is granted. There are a number of points to consider before deciding to proceed with a legal challenge, and you need to ensure there is enough time to consider the merits of a challenge and prepare the application paperwork. To be able to proceed, you will need to have sufficient interest in the planning application, which generally means you should have made a strong objection to the application, as a minimum.

How can we help you?

We can help you

We can also help you with:

Highways and Village Greens

  • Advising on highways issues including creation, diversion, extinguishment and enforcement
  • Advising on existing or claimed town and village greens, commons, and assets of community value
  • Strategic advice on preventing the creation of public access rights
  • Drafting and negotiating highways and public infrastructure agreements and licences, including sections 278 and 38 highways agreements and sections 104 and 185 sewers agreements.

Environmental Law

Working with our Investigation, Regulation & Tax team we provide:

  • Advice on statutory nuisance issues, including appealing abatement notices
  • Advice relating to nature conservation, including ecological designations, the habitats directive, tree protection and environmental impact assessments
  • Advising on issues of water pollution, land drainage, environmental permitting and contaminated land, including alleged breaches
  • Advising on the waste regulations, including acting for operators in relation to alleged waste offences
  • Acting for clients in bringing and defending legal claims, including interviews under caution.

Our team is commercial, proactive, and forward-thinking and will work with you to devise a strategy to best meet your objectives.

Our specialist team works with commercial and residential developers, landowners, investors, social housing bodies, banks and other lenders, charities, private clients, local residents’ groups, local planning authorities and other public sector organisations on a range of development schemes.


Hear what our clients say about our Planning, Highways and Environment sector

Legal 500 2024 - Planning, Highways and Environment

‘The planning team at HCR were exceptional on a recent complicated matter where time was of the e...

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Restrictive obligations removed thanks to Planning, Highways and Environment Partner’s expertise

When a couple were looking to sell their property, they found that historic s106 obligations – which can r...

Read full testimonial

Prosecution avoided thanks to “extensive knowledge” of Senior Associate

Planning, Highways and Environment Senior Associate Brendon Lee was recently praised for his work negotiating a resolution...

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