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Planning law

Charles is the top-ranked junior for planning in both Legal 500 UK (2017) and Chambers & Partners UK (2018, 2017 & 2016) which comment that he is “a QC in all but name already”, a “match for any silk”, “a rising star of the planning Bar” "tremendously respected" and that "he stands out in the strong class of juniors he's in"​. He was also voted the No. 1 planning junior nationwide in Planning Magazine’s annual Planning Legal Survey 2018, based on a poll of several hundred planning professionals (having previously been No. 1 for three consecutive years in the Survey's list of highest rated barristers under the age of 35), as well as in the Top 10 of all planning barristers (including QCs) for residential development work. In October 2017 he was awarded 'Environment and Planning Junior of the Year' at the Chambers UK Bar Awards. In December 2017 he was shortlisted for ‘Real Estate, Environment and Planning Junior of the Year’ at the Legal 500 UK Bar Awards.

Charles’ practice covers the full range of advisory, inquiry and High Court work in the planning field. He has acted in some of the most significant planning court cases and inquiries in recent years (examples are given below and in the ‘cases’ and ‘inquiries’ pages above). For details of his infrastructure planning work, click here.

The majority of his work is for commercial clients, but he also undertakes regular work for local planning authorities and central government (particularly in cases of strategic importance) as well as private clients.

Regularly commended in the legal directories for his personable and approachable manner, he enjoys the team-work that forms a central part of planning practice. He is just at home cross-examining on complex technical issues at an inquiry as he is making submissions on novel legal issues in the High Court and appellate courts, or providing strategic advice as a part of a multi-disciplinary team.

Details of the most significant planning inquiries and court cases on which he has acted can be viewed by clicking the links above. Listed below are some highlights arranged sector-by-sector in the following order: (i) Major London development; (ii) residential; (iii) retail/regeneration; (iv) waste; (v) aviation; (vi) plan-making; (vi) enforcement; and (vii) other. Please scroll down to see each sector. 

Major London development

  • Promoting Prime London residential developments at Duke’s Lodge adjacent to Holland Park (for Christian Candy’s CPC Group), Chester Gate adjacent to Regent's Park (also for the CPC Group), the former Harrods Depository at 60 Sloane Avenue, South Kensington (a complex land use swap involving the relocation of existing offices to new bespoke office development in Kensal Green), 1 Campden Hill & 69 Campden Hill Road (a substantial Grade II listed property near Kensington High Street) and Fulham Riverside(463 waterfront dwellings near Hurlingham Park).

  • Advising on planning strategy in relation to a 500,000 sqft mixed use scheme at 15-16 Minories & 62 Aldgate in the City of London,

  • Tall buildings – successfully defending the London Borough of Southwark’s refusal of permission for a 12 storey tower at 6 Paris Garden & 20-21 Hatfields, Southwark, SE1 and acting for the successful objectors to a proposed tower on the site of Mildmay Hospital, Shoreditch.

  • Urban regeneration – acting for the SSCLG in the litigation concerning the compulsory purchase order for the intended to facilitate the multi-million pound makeover of Shepherds Bush Market (see Horada v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWCA Civ 169); advising the Greater London Authority on strategic planning issues relating to the regeneration of Old Oak Common; successfully promoting a compulsory purchase order by Westminster City Council to deliver the comprehensive re-development of the Tollgate Gardens Estate in Kilburn in order to improve the quality and quantity of the Council’s housing stock (a flagship project of the Council’s Housing Renewal Strategy).


  • Securing permission on appeal for numerous residential developments, including 188 homes in close proximity to the Grade I listed Berkeley Castle, 605 homes at Money Hill in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 159 dwellings including a 60 bed care home in Topsham (including a costs award), 91 homes plus office development in the AONB at Wallingford, 21 luxury dwellings in the London Borough of Camden (including a costs award) and 80 dwellings in Kingsteignton (including a costs award), and 145 apartments in Bristol.

  • Promoting major allocations through the local Plan EiP process including 5000 dwellings in Central Bedfordshire, 2000 dwellings East of Chippenham and 1800 dwellings in Waverley District.

  • Devising a successful, JR-proof strategy to obtain planning permission from local planning authorities for two Crest Nicholson developments on Green Belt sites in Broxbourne District.

  • Successfully defending High Court challenges to major residential planning permissions including Stroud BC v. SSCLG [2017] EWHC Admin (LPA’s challenge to an Inspector’s decision to allow an appeal by Persimmon Homes relating to a 188 dwelling scheme in Berkeley), Exeter City Council v. SSCLG  [2015] EWHC 1663 (Admin) (LPA’s challenge to 120 dwellings near Exeter), R (Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner) v. Blaby DC [2014] EWHC 1719 (Admin) (a challenge by Leicestershire Police to a 4,250 dwelling Lubbesthorpe Urban Extension in Blaby District).

  • Influential court cases on wide-reaching issues of law and policy affecting residential development including the NPPF definition of “Previously Developed Land” (Dartford BC v. SSCLG [2017] EWCA Civ 141), the ‘second homes ban’ in the St Ives Neighbourhood Plan (R (RLT Built Environment Ltd) v. Cornwall Council [2016] EWHC 2817 (Admin)); whether student accommodation can be included in a LPA’s 5 year housing land supply (Exeter City Council v. SSCLG [2015] EWHC 1663 (Admin)) and whether neighbourhood plans can allocate sites for residential development (R (Larkfleet Homes Ltd) v. Rutland County Council [2015] P.T.S.R. 1369).

Commercial / retail / regeneration

  • Acting for the promoters of a retail-led regeneration scheme on the edge of Newmarket including a new 3716 sqm ASDA food store together with associated development including 4 retail units, a café and two restaurants, an art gallery and the restoration of two listed buildings at a 6 day inquiry in February/March 2014 (leading Heather Sargent).

  • Successfully prompting Porsche Cars (Great Britain) Ltd’s proposals for the remodelling and extension of the flagship Porsche Sales Centre on the A4 in Chiswick, which was allowed on appeal in July 2014.

  • Securing a favourable planning policy framework for Jaguar Land Rover’s long term business plans in the UK (three development plan examinations in 2015-2017).

  • Providing strategic advice to Guildford Borough Council on its vision for retail-led town centre regeneration in its new Local Plan (with Christopher Katkowski QC).

  • Several High Court planning challenges to planning permissions and compulsory purchase orders for retail and commercial development including R (Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd.) v. Wolverhampton City Council [2011] 1 A.C. 437 (for Sainsbury’s in its successful Supreme Court challenge to the grant of a CPO to facilitate a large Tesco store in Wolverhampton on the basis that the Council took into account immaterial considerations), R (Midlands Co-Operative) v. Birmingham City Council [2012] B.L.G.R. 393 (successfully defending Birmingham City Council’s decision to make a CPO to facilitate proposals by Tesco for the retail-led regeneration of Stirchley), Newry Chamber of Commerce’s Application for Judicial Review [2015] NIQB 65 (appearing for the developers of a 80,000sqft convenience goods scheme in Newry, Northern Ireland, successfully resisting a JR challenge by rival retailers), Re Ellen Doyle’s Application for Leave to Apply for Judicial Review [2014] NIQB 82 (for the Northern Ireland Planning Appeals Commission successfully defending the grant of permission to the University of Ulster for a key element of a £300m mixed use regeneration scheme described in the decision as “the most important regeneration in North Belfast over the next 5-10 years”), Horada v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWCA Civ 169 (appearing for the SSCLG in a challenge to the CPO made by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to facilitate the multi-million pound makeover of Shepherds Bush Market), R (Privett) v. Gravesham BC [2016] EWHC (Admin) (for the claimant in a successful judicial review of Gravesham BC’s grant of planning permission for a BP service station and associated retail/commercial development next to the A2), Gallagher Properties Ltd. v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2016] EWHC Civ 674 (Admin) (for the SSCLG successfully defending an Inspector’s refusal of permission for a proposed 56,000sqm industrial estate at Waterside Park in Kent).


  • Acting for Ineos ChlorVinyls at a 5 day public inquiry in January 2014 seeking the lifting of a restriction on the amount of refuse derived fuel it is allowed to import by road into its Energy from Waste facility in Runcorn (with Nathalie Lieven QC).

  • Nine-day inquiry in April 2017 concerning a 34,000tpa anaerobic digestion facility in the West Sussex Countryside.

  • Successfully defending West Sussex County Council’s refusal of planning permission for a proposed waste recycling facility in a disused quarry adjacent to the South Downs National Park at Boxgrove Quarry, nr Chichester, at a four day inquiry in September 2012.

  • Advising Buckinghamshire County Council in connection with an application for a large waste transfer station in Amersham in July 2012.

  • Representing Veolia Environmental Services in its successful defence of a High Court challenge to its permission for a strategic integrated waste management facility in Padworth, West Berkshire.


  • Acting for the Arora Group (one of the principal landowners at and around Heathrow Airport) in connection with its proposals for expansion of Heathrow Airport, including a third runway, which is being promoted as a cheaper alternative to the proposals advanced by Heathrow Airport Ltd (see here).

  • Appearing for Heathrow Hub Ltd, the promoters of a multi-modal transport hub at Heathrow Airport, in its Supreme Court appeal in October 2013 concerning the inter-relationship between the Government’s proposed route for HS2 and the long-term strategy for Heathrow Airport: R (Heathrow Hub Ltd) v. Secretary of State for Transport [2014] 1 W.L.R. 324.

  • Providing extensive advice for the owners of Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey relating to the planning status of the aerodrome and associated aviation permitted development rights.

  • Appearing for the applicant in the High Court of Northern Ireland in Re Department of Environment’s Application for Judicial Review [2014] NIQB 4, concerning the proper interpretation of Northern Ireland planning policy in relation to airport car-parking in the vicinity of Belfast International Airport.

  • Acting for London Southend Airport at an inquiry in July 2014 regarding the proposed diversion, in  the interests of the airport’s operations and security, of a footpath that runs across part of the airport.

  • Appearing for a local aviation group at the Stratford upon Avon Core Strategy EiP in January 2015 at the hearings relating to a proposed policy to secure Wellesbourne Airfield’s future use and expansion as an airfield and protect it from redevelopment for housing.


  • R (Larkfleet Limited) v. Rutland District Council [2015] EWCA Civ 597, a challenge to the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan concerning the scope of policies which may lawfully be included in neighbourhood plans as opposed to district-wide local plans and in particular whether neighbourhood plans can contain site specific allocations.

  • Acting for the appellants in Ashdown Forest Economic Development LLP v. Wealden District Council [2015] EWCA Civ 681, a challenge to the adoption of the Wealden District (incorporating part of the South Downs National Park) Core Strategy Local Plan concerning alleged failings in relation to SEA and the requirement under the NPPF for DPDs to be supported by “adequate, up to date and relevant evidence” at examination (with David Elvin QC).

  • Acting for the claimants in Save Historic Newmarket v. Forest Heath DC [2011] J.P.L. 1233, on the requirements of strategic environmental assessment in the context of an iterative process of preparing DPDs (which led to the quashing of the housing policies in the Forest Heath Core Strategy) (with David Elvin QC).

  • Acting for the Secretary of State in R (Stevenage BC) v. SSCLG & North Hertfordshire DC [2011] EWHC 3136 (Admin), on the relevance of the proposed abolition of Regional Strategies to the preparation and examination of DPDs prior to abolition being effected.

  • Appearing at the Examinations in Public of the Rutland Site Allocations DPD (2013), the Stratford upon Avon Core Strategy (2015), the Central Bedfordshire Development Strategy (2015) and the Chippenham Site Allocations Plan DPD (2015), the Warwick Local Plan (2017) and the Coventry Local Plan (2017).


  • Acting for the Secretary of State in Ioannou v. SSCLG [2015] 1 P.& C.R. 10 concerning the scope of the powers on an appeal against an enforcement notice to grant permission for a different or modified development to that enforced against, and on the scope of the deemed planning permission in cases of under-enforcement under s.173(11) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

  • Acting for the Secretary of State in Bowring v. SSCLG [2013] J.P.L. 1417 on the scope of requirements that can lawfully be contained in an enforcement notice against an unauthorised change of use.

  • Acting for the Claimant in R (Harbige) v. SSCLG [2012] J.P.L 2012 regarding whether, for an unauthorised use of land to become lawful through expiry of time, it is necessary to show that the same use has subsisted over the relevant 10 year period or merely that the same use class has subsisted over that period.

  • Appearing before the Planning Appeals Commission in Northern Ireland in August 2012 at the hearing of an enforcement appeal in relation to unauthorised large-scale commercial car parking in the vicinity of Belfast International Airport


  • Mordue v. Secretary of State for  Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 539 (Admin), concerning the burden of proof in planning claims alleging that the decision-maker has failed to comply with the duty under s.66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to have special regard to the preservation and enhancement of listed buildings and their settings.

  • R (May) v. Rother DC [2015] EWCA Civ 610 on the proper interpretation of the policy guidance in NPPF para. 123 on avoiding and mitigating noise impacts from new development.

  • Acting for Exeter College, Oxford, in connection with its successful application to Oxford City Council for a new quadrangle at the Grade II* Ruskin College building on Walton Street, which was granted permission in February 2014 (with David Holgate QC).

  • Acting for Henley Healthcare Ltd at a 5 day inquiry in April 2014 regarding its proposal for a community mental hospital at its residential care home premises at Apple Hill, nr Maidenhead, and in an associated appeal against the enforcement of a condition restricting the age of occupants of the care home to “the elderly” (with Sasha White QC).

  • Acting for the Secretary of State in Garlick v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013] EWHC 1126 (Admin) on the requirements of procedural fairness in the context of planning appeals under the written representations procedure.

  • Acting for the Secretary of State in the Court of Appeal in R (Gleeson Homes Ltd) v. SSCLG [2014] EWCA Civ 1118 concerning the time when a recovery direction takes effect and whether the Secretary of State has implied powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to correct obvious errors in appeal decisions (with Jonathan Swift QC).

  • Acting in various proceedings relating to the enforcement, modification and discharge of planning obligations, including the leading case of R (Renaissance Habitat Ltd) v. West Berkshire DC [2011] J.P.L. 1209 on the interpretation of the requirement under s.106A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that in order for a planning obligation to be discharged the applicant must show that it “no longer serves a useful purpose”.

  • Acting in a series of High Court cases concerning the interpretation of Green Belt policy: R (Heath & Hampstead Society) v. Camden LBC [2008] All E.R. 80 (interpretation of PPG2 para 3.6 on replacement dwellings), West Lancashire BC. v. SSCLG [2010] J.P.L. 810 (interpretation of PPG2 para. 3.12 regarding material changes of use in the Green Belt), Knight v. SSCLG [2009] EWHC 3808 (Admin) (application of PPG2 in relation to previously developed land in the Green Belt), Hayden-Cook v SSCLG [2011] J.P.L. 90 (relevance of alternative, more acceptable forms of development in considering the 'very special circumstances' test), Europa Oil & Gas Ltd. v. SSCLG [2014] 1 P. & C.R. 3 (whether exploration for oil and gas constitutes “mineral extraction” under NPPF para. 90 and is thus capable of being appropriate development in the Green Belt) and R (Privett) v. Gravesham BC [2016] EWHC 1276 (Admin) (regarding NPPF para. 89 on redevelopment of previously developed sites in the Green Belt).